JIM ATKINSON: We’re all desperate to play

Reds first-team goalkeeper Jim Atkinson says everyone is desperate to get back to playing football, following his decision to remain at Borough Park for the 2021/21 season.

Atkinson, 26, has enjoyed two curtailed campaigns as Danny Grainger’s no. 1, keeping 21 clean sheets in his 47 starts between the posts and re-signed yesterday.

Touching on a range of topics over the phone on Thursday, the stopper said: “It’s good to know what I’m doing next year.

“It was just a case of Danny wanting to keep me or not, and he did after speaking to him.

“It’s nice to have it done and dusted so I can get ready for the new season.”

Well and truly a key member of the senior squad, Atkinson is yet to see our success in the Northern Premier League rewarded due to his two terms at the club now being ruled and void.

“The downside has been no promotion,” he admitted.

“I think over the last two season, we’ve deserved it so it’s a shame but we’ll have to go again.

“It’s good to have the same core of the team that we know can be successful in this league.”

With vaccinations being rolled out across the country and the nation now on the government’s roadmap, it seems quite possible that life could return to relative normality by the time next season comes around.

A full campaign would be the goalkeeper’s first at Borough Park, what he has his eye on.

“That’s what we after, a full 38 games,” the 26-year-old affirmed.

“I think if you offered everybody Saturday and Tuesday matches every week just to get a full season in, we’d take it because we’re all that desperate to play.

“It’ll be nice to get into a routine and start winning in front of a crowd.”

As someone who’s used to spending most of his time enjoying or enduring the noise of spectators behind his goal, Atkinson has missed full stadiums.

“It’s different hoping for that [crowds] because it’s usually normal but we haven’t had a full crowd for a long time now.

“It’ll be nice to finally have a full house back at Borough Park.”

On the games themselves, particularly pre-season’s more restricted matches, the former Queen of the South stopper said: “They feel like glorified training sessions.

“We went to Morecambe, a League Two club, last summer and there were no fans so it just wasn’t the same.

“It’d have been nice to have some fans in, playing proper football and it was rubbish that it felt like a training session.

He went on to say: “It’d have been nice to have the RISC’s fun bus down there and everything going on but it wasn’t to be.

“Figures crossed with can this year and it’ll be back to normal.”

His banter buddy Dav Symington also re-signed with the club yesterday, something Jim jokingly commented on.

“Well, it was part of my contract that he had to sign or else I was leaving – we come as a package!”

Finally, with the the 20/21 campaign over and the new term on the horizon, Atkinson is looking forward to things both on and off the pitch.

“This year will feel better than the last two years because everyone’s missed it so much.

“Part of football is having nights out, doing things, but at the moment, you can’t sit and have a pint after the match or anything like that.

“It’s just rubbish so it’ll be nice to have the social aspect back again as well as the football.”

Read Dav Symington’s re-signing interview here.

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