Huddersfield Amateur FC Ladies had a season of two halves last term but manager Richard Brearley says everything is shaping up nicely for the new campaign.
Brearley said: “Last season the first team had an amazing run up to Christmas, however injury and reliability hampered the run in. This time around the plan is to find consistency for the whole season.
“For me personally, coaching the first team is an honour. The season didn’t go quite to plan but the incredible run up to Christmas and seeing us sit top of the league was fantastic.
“The drop of form after that brought about a whole different challenge and was disappointing. We then finished the season in a controlled manner which was amazing to see.
“We were the only team to beat Leeds United under 21s. This was right up there with our best ever moments. Tactically we got this spot on. Then to finish the season with a full squad against Leeds City and put in a top notch performance was a fitting end to the campaign. It was our best ever campaign.”
The club had to re-organise its coaching team when head coach Craig Higgins left early on in the season.
“Losing Craig Higgins early doors was a massive blow,” said Brearley. “We had to dig deep and evaluate how we did things. It was difficult but we bounced back bigger and better.
“We have unfinished business and want to improve. We have built – and continue to build – something really special here. From the outside I don’t see a ladies’ section (at our level) at any club better than ours. I am proud of everyone involved and honoured to be a part of this.
“For our second team, they did well in their debut season. Consistency was an issue in an extremely unbalanced division three, in my opinion. The hope is lessons have been learned and the bottom division will not be littered with ‘elite’ teams.
“This seems to be an issue each season. To be able to develop newly-formed teams we need to be playing teams at the same level. Hopefully this will be the case and we can have a competitive division.”
On how recruitment is going for the new season, Brearley said: “Everything is falling into place nicely ahead of the new season for us. The off season has been very productive. The first task was to rejig and improve the coaching staff.
“I will continue to head up operations as well as manage the first team with Rachael Graham Martin working closely as my assistant.
“Stephen Batley will continue as our second team manager with Lara Abbott as support and admin. Amy Hemblys retains her position as captain of the first team as does Abbott in the second team. The vice captain roles go to Holly Coulson and Sophie Pye. Hannah Robinson has been recruited as a fitness coach.
“The second team is now full, however I would potentially like to add another player or two to the first team squad, with a defender at the top of my wish list.
“We managed to retain most of last season’s squads. We are especially excited by the signing of a new striker and the potential signing of another top, top midfielder.
“It’s not only competition for places that is important, it is to have squads that can adapt for each fixture and that will be key to a successful season.”
Brearley said there was a togetherness and bond already being developed for next season and added: “The togetherness and the fun factor of our squads will set us in good stead.
“We will continue to progress and improve. We need to have a productive pre-season to be ready for the challenges ahead.
“There is no reason we can’t challenge for promotion. That has to be our aim. I’m sure the teams in the First Division will all have improved and will be stronger than ever.”