AFTER nearly 45 years in senior football and the trials and tribulations of last season, you could have understood Phil Simkin making the 2013/14 campaign his swansong in the game.
But however tough relegation from the Conference South was to take, the Dorchester Town boss remains as motivated as ever to lead the Magpies into the Southern Premier League.
He is not one for setting targets, a long career has taught him not to try and predict how his side might do in a very competitive league, but he is a lot more confident going into this season compared to the last one.
“Last season was an absolute nightmare and we want to put that behind us,” he said.
“I don’t want another season like that and I couldn’t go through it again.
“I’m a lot more confident going into this season compared to last year.
“What we have got now that we didn’t have last season is front players who can score goals and create chances.
“The signings of Ben Joyce, Dan Cann and Dan Smith have been massive for us and we now look very good going forward.”
He added: “At times last season it was very difficult and upsetting, but I haven’t lost any motivation for the game.
“Ever since I can remember, Saturdays have been all about football, I’ve never known any different.
“I’ve been in senior football for 44 years and it still gives me a buzz.”
Will Agbo, Ryan Woodford and Jason Brookes joined Joyce, Smith and Cann as the new arrivals at the Avenue this summer – Sam Lanahan was given a permanent deal too – and captain Nathan Walker returned to the club after a disappointing spell with Weymouth.
And while the likes of Ryan Case, Charlie Losasso, Josh Tennant, Jamie Beasley and Jack Twyford won’t be seen in Magpies’ colours this term, neither, of course, will Mark Jermyn.
After close to 15 years serving the county town outfit Jermyn decided the time was right to move on, though he should be back in Dorchester when new club Poole Town visit next April.
Dorchester’s relegation last season means that, Weymouth and Poole aside, the team, and Simkin, will be encountering clubs that they don’t necessarily know a great deal about.
One of those are Saturday’s first opponents Arlesey Town who finished 15th last time out under the management of former QPR defender Rufus Brevett.
“I don’t set any targets,” said Simkin. “As the old adage goes, I take each game as it comes.
“It is new territory for me and quite difficult at the moment because I’m not very familiar with any of the teams in our league.
“We are doing our best to find out as much as we can about the other clubs, but it’s a bit of a step into the unknown for the first few games.”