Sixty-three days after the play-off triumph against Runcorn Linnets, Reds started their preparations for the 2023-24 campaign.
The pre-season work commenced under the watchful eye of Danny Grainger and his coaches as first teamers and the Development Squad merged for the opening session. Indeed, no fewer than forty-seven players turned up at Newton Rigg with Ceiran Casson and Jim Atkinson the only notable absentees due to work and holidays respectfully.
Helping Danny put the players through their paces were Terry Mitchell, Lee Fearn and goalkeeping coach, Billy Redden – the former Reserves and Reds’ Ladies manager. Development staff, Lee McCullough, Craig Johnston and Malcolm Allison were also present.
After the warm-up, the players underwent the ‘bleep’ test and Greg McGregor retained his ‘duracell’ title as the last man standing despite being pushed all the way by two of the six trialists on view.
The Development Squad ‘winners’ were Scott Williamson and Chad Grisdale.
Recent recruits Aidy Roxburgh and Finlay Wallbank met their new colleagues for the first time and both looked in good shape over two gruelling sessions. To their credit, all the players came back in good condition and all were fully committed to the various drills, runs and exercises.
Danny Eccles worked hard alongside the other goalkeepers whilst the outfield players pushed themselves to the limit throughout the varied programme.
Manager Danny Grainger was delighted with the first session saying, “It was great to be back on the pitch today and I’m happy with the condition of the boys on their return.
“The test results have improved and everyone has obviously looked after themselves over the summer. With the majority of the squad there, along with the trialists we’ll be looking at for a few weeks, we were able to get two really good sessions into the lads in preparation for the games which start next week.
“It was great to have Lee Fearn helping with the fitness aspect and Billy Redden overseeing the goalkeepers which enabled Terry and I to closely observe the players throughout the various sessions.”
“We are back on Tuesday for another tough session ahead of the first game at Whitehaven on Thursday,” he concluded.