IMPROVEMENT is the aim of the game for Bridlington Town manager Mitch Cook as his side kick off their league season on Saturday.
After being pipped to the Northern Counties East League title on the final day last time around, Cook believes his side have what it takes to go one step further.
He said: “We have got to improve on last year. We did that last season, after finishing third and winning nothing in 2010/11, we got to second and picked up the East Riding Senior Cup.
“Now I am looking for us to improve again. Everyone wants to beat Bridlington because we have built up a reputation but we have to live with that.”
A tricky start to the season is going to be made even harder with a number of players unavailable for the big kick off.
Tadcaster Albion, one of only two visiting sides to beat Town on their own patch last season, arrive at Queensgate on Saturday.
“We start at home, which is what we wanted, but it is against a team who are going to be up there at the end of the season and who have spent quite a bit of money,” said Cook.
To make matters tougher, centre-half Chris Jenkinson is getting married and then heads off on honeymoon, fellow defender Wayne Aziz is also at a wedding and Billy Logan is on holiday and misses the first three games.
With full-back Frank Belt in Australia until November and Danny Brunton moving to Barton Town Old Boys, it will be an unfamiliar back four which lines up against The Brewers.
Cook is unsure if fans favourite Craig Palmer will be available for the curtain-raiser, or any other match for that matter.
“He told me he was injured when we started pre-season and he would let me know when he was fit.
“He’s not been to any of the sessions and if the lads give me an excuse I have to believe them.”
James Bennett and Robbie Hawkes have left for Town’s tenants Scarborough Athletic, but two former Seasiders have returned, Scott Phillips and Alex Rhodes.
Other new arrivals include former York City and Lincoln City player Tom Richardson and ex-Whitby and Scarborough FC midfielder Chris Batchelor who impressed in the pre-season friendly against Frickley.
“I’ve never been a lover of pre-season at this level. You can never get your full side out as you would like. We haven’t had everybody together once and we probably won’t until September.
“Football at this level starts too early,” said Cook, acknowledging that many other teams will have similar problems with players on holiday for the big kick-off.
“Maybe it is a good time to play tadcaster, but maybe they are saying the same about us.
“I don’t think any side is easy and you have got to play every side at some time.
“I don’t know if the league will be stronger this time aorund but certainly clubs are spending more money and players are signing from a higher level.
“The established sides have all made themselves stronger and the new sides will always be an unknown quantity.
“All the teams who did well last season are likely to be there again. The obvious favourites are Scarborough, like it or lump it, because they have spent the cash.
“But there are probably 18 teams who think they have a chance of winning this league. And so they should. If you don’t think you can win it, what is the point in starting?
“We’ve got to improve although we weren’t far off last season.”
After the Tadcaster test, Bridlington travel to newly-promoted Glasshoughton Welfare on Tuesday evening