IAN LONG welcomed a new face to his backroom staff – and then continued his focus on bolstering Alvechurch’s playing staff.
Josh Skidmore has joined as coach, having replaced Richard Upton.
Wolverhampton-based Upton has decided to depart because of the travelling and growing business commitments but former Halesowen Town, Cheltenham and Bilston midfielder defender Skidmore has linked up alongside Long, assistant boss Richard Colwell, goalkeeping coach Chris Walwyn and Keith Rostill.
“Rich travels from the other side of Wolverhampton and it’s been a problem travelling in midweek, especially because he runs his own plastering business and he travels around,” said Long.
“Josh will come in as coach. He was assistant with Jon Purdie at Bilston last season and he will add a new voice and new ideas.”
Meanwhile, Long said defender Mark Smith’s decision to stay at Lye Meadow will be a “massive” boost for the club.
Long described the 31-year-old former Halesowen and Tividale player as “the best footballing centre half” in the Midland League Premier Division.
“I’m chuffed Mark is staying – it’s great news,” said Long. “As a footballing centre half, there is nobodu better in the league and he is also dangerous in the opposition penalty area.
“He is a popular member of the squad, the lads look up to him and, with Karl Edwards moving on, he is our most experienced player.”
After finishing runners-up with a record points tally last term, Alvechurch will retain the nucleus of the squad but Danny Ashton, Sam Williams and Edwards are the latest to depart.
Midfielder or defender Ashton has switched to likely league title rivals Sporting Khalsa, while striker Edwards and midfielder Williams have moved to fellow Midland Premier side Walsall Wood.
Alvechurch began pre-season training last week, with Long running the rule over several trialists.
Josh Semedo, a winger from Wolves Sporting who had a couple of years with Portuguese giants Benfica, looks set to agree a deal.
Defender Orrin Pendley, who impressed playing for Studley against Alvechurch last season in the Worcestershire Senior Urn, also trained with the Churchmen, as did Sunday league hot-shot Andy Nicol.
Nicol, who has bagged a remarkable 122 goals with Sunday side Austin Ex-Apprentices in two seasons, has already caught the manager’s eye.
“Andy played for Alvechurch in the past and had then been playing Sunday football, scoring plenty of goals, and he certainly didn’t look out of place in the sessions we did in training,” said Long.
Alvechurch were dealt a blow, however, with goalkeeper Paul Evans pulling a hamstring which could rule him out of the whole of pre-season. More will be known after further assessment over the next couple of days.