Blues boss Paul Moore is in buoyant mood despite a significant summer of change at Shawbridge.
Moore, alongside assistant Dave Hughes, were forced to move swiftly in the market after having to contend with losses in key personnel at the end of the 2012/13 campaign.
Captain Lee Pugh has made the step up to the Conference National after being snapped up by Chester, while goalkeeper Hakan Burton and defender Chris Smalley have left for Curzon Ashton and Northwich Villa respectively.
“It’s a massive blow for us,” declared Moore. “But in Lee’s case you can’t blame a lad for wanting to go to Chester. It’s a big opportunity and a good step up for him. The shock was Chris Smalley because I didn’t expect that at all. He just wanted a new challenge which is fair enough. We’ll just have to make sure we beat Northwich Villa and Curzon Ashton when we play them. But lads come and go - that’s the nature of football.”
However, Moore wasted no time in plugging those apertures and has added several new faces to the squad as well as retaining the services of several of the club’s treasured assets. Influential midfielder Simon Nangle and last season’s leading goalscorer Daley Woods have both committed their futures to Clitheroe FC despite attracting interest from rival clubs.
Meanwhile, Moore has goalkeeper Richie Mottram available for the new term following injury and has added defenders Mike Crompton, Steve Collier, Lewis Horrocks and Tom Berlick to the Ribble Valley ranks. Attacking midfielder Andrew Griffiths has also joined alongside forward Danny Hewitt and prolific Barnoldswick Town striker Mark Threlfall. Moore has also secured Scott Bakkor on contract terms.
“We’ve made additions to the squad and we’ve recruited well,” beamed Moore. “I’m very happy with what we’ve got and it’s very encouraging. We’ve got other lads in on trial as well so we may find some hidden treasures there as well. I think the supporters will be happy with what they’ll be seeing on the pitch.”
The Blues culminated last season in eighth position, just outside the Evo-Stik League Division One North play-off places with a club record haul of 73 points. Now Moore is hopeful of going one step further.
“You start the season off believing that you can do well and then the first 15 games or so will give you an indication of where we will be at,” he said. “I’d say we need around 80 points from 42 games so we’re looking at an average of two points a game to make the play-offs. I’m really looking forward to the season ahead.”
Defender Jack Higgins has been appointed captain for the 2013/14 term, Nangle will take on the role as vice captain while Mottram will be the club captain.
Moore said: “Jack is the captain now and I think a new skipper will be good for us. He’s earned that role. He’s a good lad who is respected by the lads and he’s got the necessary leadership qualities without a doubt. He will be a top captain for us. I think he will relish that role.”
Clitheroe will take on a Blackburn Rovers XI at Shawbridge to get their pre-season preparations underway on Saturday, July 6th, with kick-off at 3 p.m.