Talismanic Spalding RFC skipper Harry Sharman is adamant that his side won’t be setting any targets ahead of their return to Midlands One East action on Saturday.
Town welcome Midlands Two East (North) champions Belgrave to the Memorial Field for their opener (3pm), which marks the renewal of last year’s rivalry.
Although they were pipped to the title by their Leicestershire rivals, Town did win the corresponding fixture last season.
Sharman feels that that the fixture list has been kind to Spalding, but admits that his side aren’t quite as strong as the one that was relegated from the same division the season before last.
However, he insists that Town and their young side will do their best to mix it with the big boys.
“Obviously going up to this league is a big challenge,” said the skipper. “But we’ve been here before.
“We’re probably not as strong as we have been in the past, but we’ll relish the opportunity of playing back at this level.
“We’ll be up against big sides from bigger areas, so we’ll not be setting any targets. The aim is just to play as well as we can every week – I can’t ask for any more than that really.
“We’re at a bit of a disadvantage to the bigger sides as they have five sides to pick from, while we only have the two.
“But if we were going to pick a first fixture, it would probably be Belgrave.
“We know them well after two ding-dong battles last year and obviously we wanted to be at home first up.”
Regarding the above mentioned top sides, Sharman expects the likes of Syston, Mansfield, Ilkeston and Derby to be the sides challenging for the title.
That’s not a race Town are likely to be involved in, but the skipper does expect his side to shock a few – especially at the Memorial Field.
“We need to turn our place into a bit of a fortress,” added Sharman. “It’s going to be very hard to pick up points away, it always is.
“This league is very competitive and you can expect everyone to take points off each other.
“We’ll back ourselves to get results against anyone, especially at home – where we always have great support.”
Town have made very few changes to the side that finished last season with a 24-14 play-off win over Newbold on Avon.
The influential Ed Duerden has left the club after moving away from the area, while Andy Hoyles retired at the end of last season.
But centre Sion Williams has made a welcome return to the fold after a year away and Ben Hoyles (Andy’s brother) has also signed.
He can play fly-half or in the centre and is expected to be involved this weekend.
Sharman added: “Getting Sion back is a big bonus, he’s a very solid player and brings a lot to the side.
“It’s obviously a shame to lose Ed, while we’re still trying to convince Andy to come out of retirement.
“We’re hoping to get a result under our belt on Saturday – and hopefully the fans will turn out in force to cheer us on.”