Mossley boss Campbell keeps expectations in check after promising start
It isn’t surprising that Mossley YM manager Gary Campbell is a little hesitant when it comes to talking up his team in the media.
Last season, in a feature with him, The Park’s very own Keith Bailie labelled the Carnmoney Road side “Division 1C’s surprise package” after an unbeaten start in their first five league games… but then had the misfortune to lose their following game.
Exactly a year later, Mossley are in even better shape, having won all of their opening five league games to put them just one point behind joint leaders Dunmurry YM and Shorts, who have games in hand.
But, with a wry smile he warned: “I am obviously a bit more cautious about what I will be saying about ourselves this year. All the same, you can’t blame anyone else for how you perform. That is down to the team itself.”
Despite that early promise last year, Mossley ended up finishing the season in seventh place, exactly mid-table. This time round, they want to finish higher.
Campbell admitted: “Last year, we were hoping for top four, but we ended up going into free-fall with a bad patch around Christmas. I’m not setting any targets like that this season, but what I do want us to do is improve on last year’s finish.”
It’s a realistic enough goal, even without considering the fantastic start they have made, and although Campbell insists he doesn’t want to shout about his team’s chances from the rooftops, you still get the impression he is feeling quietly confident.
He continued: “We are a lot stronger all round this year, we have changed our second team manager, and have switched our training round. The ball-work we do has changed, and while I know getting players to come to training was a problem for this club in the past, we are now getting the numbers.
“My assistant, Glen McCrum deserves a lot of credit for the coaching he does with the team. He sees a lot of things that others don’t always see, and that is a big plus for us going forward. The boys are working hard, training hard, and deserve something for the effort they are putting in.”
Whatever transpires, one thing is for sure: the cup competitions won’t provide any distraction from Mossley’s key focus on improving on seventh place in the table.
Knocked out of the Steel & Sons Cup by Glentoran II, the Border Cup by Nortel and the Irish Cup by 18th Newtownabbey, there will be nothing but league fixtures ahead of them between now and Christmas. And that suits Campbell just fine.
He added: “The cups are something great for the boys to be involved in, but it’s not always the same for the manager. I think the only complaint we can have about the cups this year, is being beaten by 18th, because they are in our league.”
However, away victories against Dunmurry YM and Bangor Amateurs - two of the early front-runners in the 1C race - will surely more than make up for that disappointment.
Next up this Saturday is another testing fixture against joint leaders Shorts, and it must be encouraging to know that win, lose or draw that one, they will still be very much in the conversation.
The trick, this time around, is staying there.