Stowmarket chairman Martin Barnard is targeting an immediate return to London Two North East ahead of the start of the new season.
Following a difficult campaign, which culminated in relegation and saw Roger Walker replace Nigel Brown as first-team head coach, Stow are now planning their route out of London Three North East which starts with a visit from Old Brentwoods to Chilton Fields tomorrow (3pm).
And having kept the majority of last season’s squad, as well as bolstering their ranks with the returns of winger Dan Garrard and prop Gary Goodchild from Bury St Edmunds, Barnard is confident of achieving their aim of promotion at the first attempt.
“We have learned a lot from last season, had a really good summer in which we’ve strengthened and our aim is definitely promotion,” he said. “I think we actually have a stronger squad than last season and so we are very confident of challenging at the right end of the table.
“We had a change of personnel with four games to go last year, but won three of those games and finished really strongly, so hopefully we can carry that momentum forward.
“That losing mentality can be hard to get out of, but a change of personnel appeared to be enough towards the end to create a spark.
“We actually felt a little unlucky to go down because we won more games than some of the sides above us, but ultimately were just not good enough.
“Roger had a point to prove as the new head coach and I think that is definitely still the case so should stand us in good stead.”
Despite his confidence, Barnard was quick to point out the importance of a good start to the season, with Stowmarket facing another highly-fancied team for promotion in the form of rivals Sudbury in a derby-day encounter next week.
“We know promotion won’t be an easy task as a lot of teams in this division have strengthened including Sudbury who will be up there,” he added. “It is always great to have a home start — it is essential to hit the ground running.”