Robinson reflects: Tring Athletic boss looks back on a positive 2014/15 campaign
The Tring boss gave an honest assessment of the 2014/15 campaign and outlined how he feels that the side can progress throughout the coming months.
“A long season has come to a close with an excellent display, all be it a defeat to a very strong Conference South Hemel Hempstead side in the St Marys Cup Final,” he wrote this week.
“It’s been another long season but we have again built on last year and again enjoyed another good finish to the season, ending with 70 points which was an improvement of 12 on last season.
“Highlights of the season included another good run in the FA Vase, winning four rounds and only losing 1-0 to a very strong Norwich United side, who won their Eastern Counties League by 26 points.
“On the day, the game could have gone either way and, at 0-0 with 30 minutes to go, we feel they should have had a defender sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, which was a very poor decision and a massive turning point in the game.
“Good wins at Wembley, Kings Langley, Hoddesdon and Leverstock Green highlighted our good away form, but we need to sort out our home displays if we are to be truly competitive.
“The side has evolved over the last four seasons, with the majority of the older players moving on or retiring, with the ones that have stayed being a great influence on the squad.
“It’s no secret that we don’t pay players in any way; this is tough in a league where the vast majority of teams do, and with this in mind we have really focused on recruiting younger players from other clubs - and of course promoting what we have coming through our own very hard working reserve and youth set up.
“The theory has worked well, with our side’s average age being 23, and seven of our cup final squad were 20 or under.
“We have to make this system work and reward the good committed players who see their future with us by giving them game time. But we need to balance that with remaining competitive and challenging on all fronts.
“To highlight this, 18-year-old Jack Hopwood came into the side in November when Matt Evans unluckily got injured and he hasn’t missed a game since - a feat which is quite something for a goalkeeper of his age at this level. He is off to America coaching until November and we look forward to seeing him back.
“We had three players this season score 21 goals or more, which has been a fantastic achievement and something which they should be very proud of.
“Chris Vardy, Kieran Turner and Taylor Collins scored 70 between them which is a staggering statistic and a great reward for their hard work this season.
“Our midfield has been key to our season, with Greg Deer, Sam Joliffe, Ollie Hogg, Ryan Sturges, Ryan McMahon, Lee Stobbs, Trevor Gibbs, Rob Tomlin and Luke Dunstan giving us real energy and allowing us to play a real high tempo pressing and attacking game.
“All at times have looked outstanding in a long and gruelling season.
Defensively we have looked very good as the season progressed. Dan Steadman, Adam Toone, Chris Salmon and new boy Kevin McManus have all shone in the 3-5-2 formation that we have played. Its something different in this league but it has allowed us to play three centre-halves with wing-backs which fitted with the players we have at the club.
“Like all clubs we have had our fair share of injuries through the season, with Stewart King, Dave Salmon, George Tomlin and Ollie Butler missing big chunks of the season.
“We had four players who didn’t play at all - Jack Seaton, Jack Sunderland, Nick Holden and Rob Duncan all underwent various operations,and obviously we will be looking at all of them returning next season as they regain full fitness.
“Hopefully we can retain all of our players for next season and really push on, it will be a waste if we don’t have the chance to build on this season, and what we are trying to achieve at Tring Athletic on and off the field.
“It’s always a difficult time with players being tempted with payments and the lure of higher football, but we genuinely believe with two or three more players we can really give the league and cups a good go, and try to improve a stage further in the Vase and the FA Cups.
“I genuinely hope we keep everyone together and push on; potentially it’s a very exciting squad which deserves to achieve something.
“Hopefully we have learnt from the last campaign and 15/16 will be our season. We have already put together the bulk of our pre-season plans and have some arranged some exciting friendlies which are being added to the website.
“We return to training on the Tuesday, June 30 and are talking to new players but everyone is welcome, it never stops. Enjoy the summer.”