AFC Rushden & Diamonds First Team manager Mark Starmer spoke to AFC R&D TV after putting his emerging squad through their paces in a pre-season training session.
I’m really looking forward to the first friendly on Saturday now, having been doing pre-season work for four or five weeks already, since the trials started. We’ve had triallists training 3 times a week, and having got rid of a few who weren’t right for us we’ve had others come in, and are now making some extremely good signings such as Aynsley (Mcdonald) or Alfie (Taylor), and others now want to play for us. It’s difficult for me, Andy (Peaks) and the team to get the right balance, but its enjoyable – it’s a good problem to have.
Tell us about your backroom team – what do they bring to the party?
Peaksy speaks for himself. His knowledge of the UCL, and the contacts that he’s got is a major plus – although he’s a good mate of mine anyway – and there’s his coaching ability as well. Those contacts he’s made over the past couple of weeks (and the same with Biff (Scott Carling)) mean there are players here because of them, who haven’t heard of me, but are here to play for the club and have bought in to what they’ve heard about me from Peaksy and Biff. What they are doing is second to none – it’s a major plus for me.
Looking at the new signings, It’s great we can attract these kind of players?
Aynsley (McDonald) texted me early in the year and said that if I was the manager he’d come and play for me – and he’s kept that promise, so I always knew he was coming. Alfie (Taylor) had been spoken to by Biff and Peaksy and we all met him the other night and he’s looking forwards to what we put on the table.
It’s a club they are coming to play for – not the money – it’s the club. No-one’s going to get anywhere near what they are capable of getting, and that says a lot. They are all looking forward to playing in front of the crowds we might get. They’ve all got one ambition, and that’s the same as mine, Andy’s and the club – and that’s to get out of the division as quickly as possible. No-one has got a divine right to get out of the division, but we’ll give it a good shot, and with the calibre of player we’ve got we’ll stand as good a chance as anyone.
With the changes to the league and within clubs it looks like being a tough league ?
Yes, extremely, and whatever league I’ve managed in I’ve respected every team we’ve come up against. I treat every team and their staff with the utmost respect, and will continue to do that. All my team will do that – there will be no big-heads or “we’re going to do this or that” – it’s going to be run properly, and I’ll respect everybody we come up against.
Like I said, we’ve got no divine right to get out of the division, everybody in the division will be looking to get out of it. We’ve got to work hard, we got to do more than anyone else to do it right, and we have done it right so far. We’re not doing it through splashing the cash because we haven’t got it. We are doing it through what we are offering, through the support we are hoping to get, through the team we’ve got and their qualifications, and the way we are going to train and do everything and that’s what will appeal to people.
I hope that message gets out there – it’s not “moneybags Rushden” – it’s through what we’ve got here and what we are hoping to do, and the way we are going to go about it that has appealed to a lot of players. I’ve got two more here tonight of decent quality who were playing two leagues above what we are – and that’s fantastic.
What goes to make a pre-season?
It’s a bit of everything really. We’ve had the trials and rather than just having a game I’ve done training sessions with them. I’ve not just looked at what they can do, I’ve looked at their application to training, and to the drills and how they apply themselves to that, as they aren’t just going to get it now, they are going to get it all winter twice a week, so I’ve looked at that as well – and some of them who’ve come and tried have not been anywhere near the level. I’m hoping that the boys we’ve got are going to enjoy what we are going to put on.
Now we start building up to the Wellingborough game, and we’ll start doing some formation work, but they are experienced players and there’s not going to be an awful lot put into them, apart from getting them fit, plus a bit of ball-work and getting to know one another, and then they’ll go out and play, and like I said a lot last year, I want them to play – they are here because they can play. They’ll need tweaking – of course they will, and that’s where me and my team come into it, but they know how to play, they’re not stupid, and they’ll be ready.
I’m sure the fans can’t wait until the game on the 14th, and I bet you and the team are the same too?
Yes, it will be fantastic, but I hope that people don’t forget the youth team, and are there to support them as well. They’ve been helping out in pre-season as well, and when I’ve needed 3 or 4 extra players they’ve come across and done very well, and I’m sure they’ll continue to do that. They’ve got a game at Wellingborough on Saturday too, so let’s make sure we are all there for that one too. They are a big part of the club too – they are the future either with the first team or the reserves – so, yes, get behind them, and get behind the first team in the next few games.
You can see the interview on AFC RD TV via the link on the right hand side of the www.afcdiamonds.com homepage. A preview of the game next Saturday will be released online shortly.