Needham Market boss Richard Wilkins: On a new league, new players and money in the non-league game

Richard Wilkins

Richard Wilkins - Credit: Archant

Needham Market boss Richard Wilkins is upbeat ahead of the new season.

The Marketmen will play in the Southern League Central division, along with fellow Suffolk teams Leiston and Lowestoft in 2018/19.

Fresh waters to charter for players and fans, with the likes of Kettering, Rushden & Diamonds, King’s Lynn, and Tamworth among different league opponents set to travel to Bloomfields.

“Yes, I’m upbeat and looking forward to it,” Wilkins said.

“Last season wasn’t great. We all know that. Only when I managed to get everyone fit did we go on a decent run.

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“But I’m excited really and looking forward to the challenge of new opponents.

“I’ve just got used to teams and managers and how they play in the Ryman League and now I’ve got to start all over again in the Southern League, but that’s fine. I’m sure our fans will look forward to visiting different grounds and seeing different teams visit us.”

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Needham have been busy signing players ahead of the new campaign.

Jerry Kamanzi and JJ Wilson are two of the latest to join Needham.

Kamanzi is well known at Needham having played for the club last year, while Wilson had been a target of the former Colchester United defender for a while and after being released by the U’s.

“The hardest thing we have faced this summer is knowing what league we were playing in and signing players accordingly,” Wilkins added.

“We had three or four players lined up, but when we were told we were playing in the Southern Central, that ruled a few of them out, as they are more London-based.

“But Jerry and JJ are both living near the top of the M11, which suits them and us.”

There is plenty of money again being thrown around in non-league this summer and, like the pro game, it shows no signs of abating.

Wilkins has his views.

“I don’t blame players for chasing money,” he said.

“I do like to see players play as high as they can mind you. Clubs need to take the blame for all the money floating around, not the players. I just want to see clubs remain sustainable.”

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