Haverhill Rovers and Haverhill Borough reject earlier starts for league season

Ben Cowling

Ben Cowling

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Both Haverhill Rovers and Haverhill Borough have turned down the chance to start their league seasons on July 30.

The unusually early start date had been set by the Thurlow Nunn League as a result of the FA deciding to hold the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round on August 6 - the cup usually begins one week after the league kicks off.

Haverhill Borough player-manager, Martin Westcott

Haverhill Borough player-manager, Martin Westcott

Rovers have already committed to playing a pre-season friendly at Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier Division side Harwich & Parkeston on July 30 and so have taken the available option of playing their first Premier League fixture on the following Tuesday or Wednesday.

With Borough failing to qualify for next season’s FA Cup competition, they have decided to start their quest for promotion from the First Division on August 6.

Rovers manager, Ben Cowling, explained: “We’ve got a friendly on the 30th. We’ve requested that we start our league campaign on the second or third, depending on whether we are home or away, to get the game in before the FA Cup on Saturday.

“I appreciate why league has done it and you don’t want to play the FA Cup as your first game of the season.

“We didn’t want to go back and change our pre-season plans and the league have given us the choice to opt in or opt out.

“We are fine with that.”

For Borough player/manager Martin Westcott, a July 30 start was also not a desirable choice.

He said: “We are not going to start on July 30 because it’s too soon. We will go for August 6th.

“We can choose when to do it so that suits us best.”

With Cowling only three weeks into his time as Rovers manager, he has been busy building his squad, and estimates he has already spoken with some 40 players.

Terms have been verbally agreed with a number of players, but until signatures have been put to paper - something which will not happen until after the Thurlow Nunn League’s AGM on June 18 - Cowling is keeping mum about who those players are.

“We are working hard to get people in,” he said. “We don’t have the biggest budget and people have got to want to come and play for the club for the right reasons but in general terms I’m really pleased with the response from players so far.

“A lot of people want to come and play and I’m looking forward to working with some of the youngsters who did well at the back end of last season.

“I think we should have quite an exciting blend of players. It will certainly be a very locally based set of players which is very good and it’s what I had at Haverhill Borough and it worked for me then.”

Westcott and his new assistant manager, Rod Gaffan have also been busy sorting out Borough’s squad for next season, but are remaining equally as tight-lipped about identities.

Westcott added: “I’ve spoken to the players and they want to stay with Borough and try and win things next year and we are confident that will happen.

“There will be a few new players coming in but we are not making wholesale changes, we just want to add a couple to the squad.”

Borough have five pre-season friendlies lined up so far. Lke Rovers, all are away from home due to the installation of the 3G pitch at the New Croft and they hope to add a sixth.

The first is at Cambridge City on July 9, followed by matches at Walsham-le-Willows, Chatteris Town, Hardwick and Mundford - from the Anglican Combination League Division One.