Pic: White Rose Photos
WHITBY TOWN’S Chris Hardy won’t let the club’s excessive travelling be used as an excuse – and the ambitious boss expects his side to be challenging for promotion despite losing star man Dale Hopson.
The attacking midfielder, 24, scored 31 times in all competitions for Whitby last season and was sold to Evo-Stik Premier champions Blyth Spartans last week after putting in a transfer request.
Blyth and fellow promoted side Spennymoor last season showed that clubs situated at the extreme ends of the league’s borders can still achieve big things.
While Hopson will be a big miss for the Seasiders, Hardy is keen to recruit the right type of player. Experienced winger Andy Monkhouse has become his first summer signing and the ex-Guisborough Town boss is willing to be patient.
“We’ve identified an entry level player at Whitby now and it’s making sure we bring in players that improve the environment,” Hardy told The NLP.
“The majority of the squad was already on contract but Anthony Bell has gone to West Auckland and Mark Robinson has signed for Guisborough.
“Dale is a very talented player and when you can put that many goals on the tally charts, you will draw attention to yourself.
“He’s played a bit of professional football and has talent in abundance so Blyth are getting a good player.
“We will now reinvest the fee we’ve received to replace him. With the type of finances that are knocking about at this level of football, you do need a pot to be able to bring players in.”
The North Yorkshire outfit will do over 6,500 miles in the Evo-Stik Premier next term, second only to Workington.
“Geographically, Whitby isn’t on the doorstep for many people,” Hardy added. “We tend to recruit from the Teesside area which isn’t too bad logistically.
“At the end of the day, the players we’re looking for are those that are on the up and those we can help develop.
“I’ve spoken to some Northern League players but most want to stay at their clubs at Step 5.
“I do believe that if players have the right temperament and the commitment then the travelling becomes part and parcel of it. If you get the right mindset, the right mentality, then the travelling isn’t really an issue.”
Hardy expects to have his summer shopping completed by their first friendly on July 15 at Billingham Town, giving them plenty of time to get ready for the big kick off on August 12.
“I don’t think anybody will run away with the league this year, it’s going to be tight and a good start will be key,” Hardy added.
“If you can be consistent in what you’re doing – and it’s difficult in this league – you’ll automatically be in and around those play-off positions.
“That’s what we’ll be aiming for after finishing sixth last season. We need to find that little bit more to either get into the play-offs or even push for that top spot.”