‘We’ve won quite a few people over’ – Stowmarket Town boss Rick Andrews... Also... Money, signing Dean Bowditch and future aims
Stowmarket Town are flying high in Thurlow Nunn Premier having made some major signings... MIKE BACON caught up with first-team boss Rick Andrews
Stowmarket Town boss Rick Andrews feels his club have 'won quite a few people over' as the Greens Meadow outfit challenge for silverware this season.
The Thurlow Nunn Premier Division side stunned many in the Suffolk non-league world in the summer as they targeted and got the signatures of seasoned top performers like Tom Bullard, Joe Jefford, Seb Dunbar and Jack Ainsley, among others.
They've added more quality since, with players such as Matt Blake and more recently former Ipswich Town star Dean Bowditch.
While many hailed the ambition, others were less forthcoming, citing money as the main reason Stow were attracting players. And while Andrews isn't hiding from the fact the club has good finance, the environment off the pitch is equally as important to him.
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Stow are unbeaten in 18 league games and this weekend look to make the last 32 of the FA Vase - they're at home to Stansted.
The team with the 'target on their backs', they have coped with that initial pressure and are now kicking on.
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"Of course there was an element of pressure on us at the start of the season," Andrews said.
"We knew that. Some of the social media responses to a few of our players joining us, many who had given good service to other sides, was surprising to say the least.
"But I always said, one, ignore them, and two, do your talking on the pitch.
"Now things have settled down I think we have won quite a few people over. Plenty of people are now saying 'fair play' to us and what we are trying to do.
"Yes, the club has money, but I feel we have spent it wisely. If we do go up, there is not a lot of tinkering to do.
"We didn't' just target players on ability, but mentality as well, because we knew we would be the team others wanted to beat. I couldn't have asked for a better response.
"But for me, it is as important to communicate and give players an enjoyable environment to play in - communication and honesty is key for me."
So, what about the future of the club?
Currently flying high at the top of the table, promotion to Step 4 is well within Stow's grasp this season.
"I would like to take the club as far as possible, of course I would," Andrews added.
"We have ambition and would like Step 4 football next season. Establish ourselves there and then aim for Step 3 after that.
"I'm not setting any time constraints. We'll take it as it comes, but we know where we want to be."
Stow have a break from league action this weekend, as they go in search of equalling their best-ever run in the FA Vase.
It's the last 64 and Stow entertain Stansted at Greens Meadow. The club's best performance, last season, was reaching the last 32.
"We would love a good Vase run, 100%," Andrews admitted.
"We want to create history for the club and go further than the last 32. You need a bit of luck and we perhaps had a bit of that in the last round, which was tough. But we came through it.
"Someone was telling me the other day we are now one of the favourites to win it, which is a bit strange because we were 66-1 going into the last round. Now, having won that apparently we are 4-1!
"I'd like to wish all the Thurlow Nunn clubs in the Vase this weekend, best of luck."
The recent signing of Dean Bowditch is a huge coup for Stowmarket and Andrews has said the former Ipswich Town striker has settled well. Bowditch made his debut for Stow against Mildenhall last weekend.
"Dean has settled in really well," Andrews said.
"He's already offering a few bits of advice here and there and of course he's a quality player and supports what we are trying to do.
"Bringing Dean into help our FA Vase run was another part of our thinking.
"But we've won nothing yet and I always tell my players that win or lose we are humble in how we go about things.
"That's important to me."