THERE have been plenty of changes at Chilton Fields over the summer as Stowmarket prepare for life in London Two North East.
After leading the club to promotion from London Three North East, Nigel Seaman has left his role as head coach due to work commitments, to be replaced by ex-West Suffolk College and Cambridge coach Nigel Brown.
It is the second consecutive summer Stow have enjoyed promotion but lost their coach, following promotion from Eastern Counties One and the subsequent move of Gavin Hogg to Bury.
Stow playing chairman Jamie Warner, whose side open their campaign at home to Old Streetonians tomorrow (3pm), said: “I think we are good enough to go up another level.
“Bury and Colchester have had flying starts in London One North and they need and deserve to move on, but we could hold our own with the others in London One North like Diss.
“One more step up the pyramid would be great, but I don’t know whether we will do that this season – by Christmas we should know if we have a chance.”
As well as changes on the coaching front, 14 new players have been signed, while hooker Jack Haward has replaced Ed Hawkins as captain following the latter’s move to Bury.
Meanwhile, Thurston captain Ben Sinclair wants his side to prove they are back where they belong when they mark their return to Greene King IPA Eastern Counties One, with a home match against Southwold tomorrow (3pm).
Rangers bounced back to the division at the first attempt, following their requested relegation in 2010/11, by finishing second to Hadleigh in Eastern Counties Two last season.
“We’ve had one year out so we’re really pumped and looking forward to getting stuck in,” said Sinclair.
“We’re looking to be competitive and show this is where we belong — we’ve got to keep the positive momentum on and off the field and we’ll see where it takes us,” added the outside centre.
Thurston must cope with the loss of last season’s player of the year, Aaron Waters, after the second row forward joined London One North side Bury St Edmunds.
Eastern Counties Two does not begin until September 22, but Mildenhall and Red Lodge Eagles travel to Haverhill in the Suffolk Shield tomorrow (3pm).
Defending champions Haverhill are also Mildenhall’s first league opponents seven days later, when the Eagles are the hosts.
Thetford just missed out on promotion from Eastern Counties Two last year and will be hoping to get their season off to a good start against Crusaders on Saturday, September 22.