Mildenhall Town’s preparations for life in the Bostik League Division One North have started with the addition of goalkeeper Jake Jessup.
Manager Dean Greygoose — a former professional goalkeeper himself — has been in the market for a new glovesman ever since the long-serving Josh Pope announced his departure last month.
Pope’s exit, enforced due to a relocation with work, was a blow for the club following their double-winning campaign of 2016/17.
The 28-year-old had made himself a firm favourite with the Recreation Way faithful, making more than 500 appearances at under-18 reserve and first-team level.
But the arrival of Jessup has signalled the start of a new era ahead of the club’s first ever season at Step 4 — the ‘keeper having signed on following a spell with Bostik League Premier Division side Lowestoft Town.
Aged 23, Greygoose is aware his new custodian still has improvements to make, but having previously featured at Vanarama National League South level with The Trawlerboys, he has also accrued plenty of experience.
“As far as I am concerned, Josh was the best goalkeeper in our league last season,” said the Mildenhall boss.
“He improved a lot and showed great consistency, making only two or three mistakes.
“We needed a certain type of ‘keeper to replace Josh, and Jake is the right one for us.
“He has not fulfilled his potential yet and perhaps has not kicked on as people predicted when he was 17.
“But he is a strong character and has got a bit about him.
“Jake is ambitious and that suits us. He is a coach himself and coaches always want to improve themselves.”
Jessup is Greygoose’s first addition of the summer, with more expected soon.
Forty players attended last week’s first pre-season training session, with a further 24 turning up on Saturday.
And, with the start of the new season a little more than six weeks away, Greygoose is excited as Mildenhall gets ready to break new ground.
“It was great to see so many players turn up for the sessions — it shows a real interest in the club,” he added.
“It was pleasing to see the condition they came back in because everyone needed to be in at least a reasonable state.
“Things are really exciting at the club right now — everything is moving in the right direction.
“We are talking to a few other players and hopefully if they sign, we can push on and give a good account of ourselves.”