|Ossett Albion manager Richard Tracey|
By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Richard Tracey wants to turn perennial strugglers Ossett Albion into Evo Stik Division One North top half contenders.
For the past four seasons, Albion have struggled at the bottom of the Division. After finishing sixth in 2009, financial problems hit Ossett and they had two relegation reprieves under former manager Eric Gilchrist.
Gilchrist left after ten years at the helm in 2011 and reserve team managers Lloyd Fellows and Paul Watson took over. The pair led Albion to an 18th place finish before a disastrous run of form last season ended with them being sacked in March as the club appeared to be staring at relegation.
Tracey and Steve Nicholson were appointed caretaker managers and steered Albion to safety which earned the former the job on a permanent basis.
The 34-year-old former Rotherham striker is now aiming to banish the ‘strugglers’ tag.
“It is always going to be a tough,” he told Sports Performer.
“Darlington have come into the league and have a massive budget and I have just read about a £30,000 sponsorship deal they have coming in – that’s the sort of money that would make a massive difference to any club, regardless of the level.
“What I hope it doesn’t become is a league with two leagues within it with the top half and bottom being completely different.
“I’d like it to be competitive and that we can be competitive now and not just aiming for points against teams around us. I want us looking to pinch points off higher ranking teams.
“We want to be top half – that’s a competitive and realistic aim.
“I think for three or four seasons the club has been in relegation battles or fighting until the end to stay in the Division.
“As a club, the priority is to come away from that and to build on that and be competitive and being in the top half would be the next step.
“It is a bit ambitious, but you have to set your aims high and if I was to say mid-table, I wouldn’t be unsatisfied with it. But I think we have a squad that can be competitive.
“I think we have got some quality in areas we needed and hopefully we have some more to come that will strengthen even more.”
Captain Stefan Holt, Tyrone Gay, Henry Owen and goalkeeper Adam Rhodes are among the 13 players from last season who have signed on.
Former Guiseley striker Adam Muller has joined as player-assistant and this week, Tracey recruited Nick Black and Farsley AFC midfielders Ryan Harrison and Craig Tonkinson.
And Tracey, who intends to continue playing this season, admits there may be more new faces arriving at Dimple Wells before the campaign starts on August 17th at home to Bamber Bridge.
“Clubs like ourselves, our deals have to come a bit later because we haven’t got the money to entice people,” he said.
“We’re picking out the lads to play week-in-week-out and the money issue isn’t necessarily the most important thing for them.
“Farsley have been great and nudged one or two lads our way and that really helps.
“We have to fight hard for our players, but with your Guiseleys, Frickleys, Farsleys and other clubs in our area, we have to look at the experience they are moving on to fit in their new players.
“We have to look at what we need and what’s available and whether it is within our budget.”
|Craig Tonkinson (left), battling for the ball, has signed from Farsley|
Tracey has played for Bradford (Park Avenue), Ossett Town, Frickley Athletic, Belper Town and Stocksbridge Park Steels and Albion during an 11-year Non-League Football career.
He has played in the Football League for Rotherham, Carlisle United and Macclesfield Town and he well aware that he needs experience in his side to be successful this year.
“I think it is essential for the young lads to have that experience around them like Stevie Nicholson and Rob Tonks who have played at this level for 15-20 years,” he said.
“They know how it is done and even for lads coming down from higher leagues, this is a different level and you have to adjust and amend your style – I had to do that at Bradford Park Avenue for two years. This happens when you come down from a higher level.
“We have to shape it and have some energetic players who have desire to do well with the experience around them.”
Ossett continue their pre-season friendlies schedule on Saturday at home to Matlock Town.