Ely City manager Brady Stone keen to wind back the clock to get Robins flying high in the Thurlow Nunn League once again
By Brady Stone’s own admission, last season Ely City moved too far away from what had made them a competitive outfit under his management.
In the two campaigns that followed their promotion back to the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division in 2016, the Robins’ Step 5 status never looked in any danger as they racked up 13th and 14th-placed finishes.
Throw a club-record FA Vase run to the fifth round and a first Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup triumph since 2013 into the bargain and it is fair to say things were looking up for Stone’s charges.
But that two-year high was followed by the lows of last term, one in which Ely flirted dangerously close with relegation before a positive final few weeks kept their head above water.
Long-term injuries and player departures were a leading factor in the worrying slump, and it forced Stone and his assistant Martin Grey to make a host of changes – both tactically and personnel wise – in a bid to halt the slide.
This time around though, Stone has insisted no such alterations will be made.
“Last season was far from enjoyable. On and off the pitch it was tough,” he said.
“There was some people doubting us but Martin and I knew we were the right people to get us out of it, which we did.
“Neither of us want another season like that so we are going to stick to our ways and the things that got us to where we are.
“We tried everything we could last season and perhaps that was part of the problem – we moved too far away from what makes us a good side.
“We have always been a tough side to beat, one that is a threat going forward and good from set-pieces with Jamie Alsop’s delivery – that is what I want us to be again.
“Things are going to be done our way again and the players know that.”
Having retained a large majority of last season’s squad, Stone has also been pleased with the four signings he has made.
Adam Capel has turned his loan from Cambridge City into a permanent switch, while Ryan Harnwell (Wisbech Town), Michael Harvey (Hadleigh United) and Luke Crisp (Fulbourn) offer Stone further options.
It means that during the months that follow, Stone is looking for more than just survival.
“It is always a difficult league and it could be even tougher this season because it seems like everyone has strengthened,” he added.
“The first aim is always to stay up and that is what the club wants, but we as a management team and players want more. If we can stay clear of injuries then we have enough quality to be around the top 10.”
Ely start at Gorleston on Saturday (3pm) before hosting Mildenhall Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).
More by this authorLiam Apicella