Brighouse Town are ready for kick-off and aiming to put the town on the footballing map as they take on the big boys in the new season.
Town, who were crowned Northern Counties East League Premier Division champions in April, have had a busy summer as they prepare to make their bow in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One in 2014/15.
The historic campaign begins on Saturday afternoon at the club’s ground on St Giles Road, Hove Edge, against Radcliffe Borough.
Chairman Ray McLaughlin hopes the town will turn out in force to support the team.
“We came into semi-pro level six years ago with the aim of putting Brighouse on the footballing map. This level of football has certainly done that,” he said.
“We are hoping that is reflected in attendances.
“The support has been good and we hope it continues to grow.
“Sometimes it was literally two men and a dog watching us on a cold winter’s night, but bit by bit we have got a good band of supporters over the past six years.
“The interest has been great. We were getting crowds of 300-400 in the push for promotion last season.
“Local businesses have been backing us too, sponsoring matches and match balls.
“That’s fantastic and is a real positive for us going forward.
“People have been stopping us in Brighouse to ask us how things are going.
“We have been a bit unnoticed in the past but there has been much more attention on us this year.”
Ray said pre-season friendlies have gone well, and there has been an extra edge in training sessions as the squad eagerly anticipate facing former football league clubs such as Darlington and local derbies against Farsley, Scarborough and the two Ossett teams.
“We’ve got some massive games coming up,” he said.
“We’ll also be playing against Salford, with their Manchester United connection.
“When you look through the fixture list, nearly every game is a big game.
“We are not kidding ourselves. We will probably be the smallest team in the league but are hoping to establish ourselves at this level.
“We know it’s going to be tough but we think we will be competitive.
“The league we are in is where Halifax Town came back into when they reformed.
“For Brighouse to be there now is a great feat for a club like ours.
“It puts into perspective where we are - we are in with the big boys now.
“I think Brighouse is a big enough town to have a team at this level of football, so we just have to make sure we get things right.”
The club is also looking forward to a civic reception at Halifax Town Hall next week.
“That’s a nice boost at the start of the season and good recognition for everyone’s hard work,” Ray said.
He added that the club is looking for sponsors, including for the stadium.
For more information, contact commercial manager Andy Stewart on 07792 296392.