Peterborough Sports chief Jimmy Dean has called on the city public to get behind his side in an historic season.
Sports launch their first-ever Step 4 campaign tomorrow (August 12, 3pm). when entertaining Kidsgrove in an Evo-Stik League Division One South opener.
Dean has guided Sports to back-to-back league titles in the United Counties League - and they were the highest-scoring side in the top 10 levels of English football in both campaigns.
But now the going is about to get a whole lot tougher with Sports no longer being a team expected to enjoy success, but one that Dean believes will be tipped to struggle by many.
He said: “We’re proud to have grown into the second biggest club in Peterborough.
“We’ve come a long way in a relatively short space of time and we’ve enjoyed the success of the last two seasons.
“But it’s a different situation for us now. We’ll be going up against big clubs with much bigger budgets than ourselves.
“It’s a challenge I’m relishing and I know the players are keen to impress at this level.
“It’s going to be a tough start as we’ve got an injury crisis on our hands, but I’m confident we’ll do okay if we can get all the lads fit and available.
“Reaching the play-offs would be a huge achievement in what I feel is one of the two strongest Step 4 leagues in the country.
“We’ve spent two years building this team and working hard to get here and hopefully people will get behind us.
“We’re a Peterborough club full of Peterborough people on and off the pitch, and we’re very proud of that.
“We know we’re never going to be a rival to Posh, but we’d like to think we offer another good footballing alternative in the city.
“Every single person through the turnstile will be a big help to the club, myself and my players.”
Central defender Richard Jones (who is awaiting a scan on a knee issue) and flying winger Jordan MacLeod (who suffered a fractured foot in pre-season) are Dean’s biggest injury worries.
Goalkeeper Lewis Moat is carrying a leg injury and faces a race against time to be fit for Saturday’s opener. Defender Josh Sanders, midfielder Dan Lawlor and striker Mark Jones are also doubts to face Kidsgrove with niggles.
Dean has added four new signings to his squad - the latest being former Cambridge City central defender David Femiola. He’s a former Step 4 title-winner with Kings Langley.
All-action midfielder Rogan McGeorge and right-back Ash Robinson both played in Division One South at Stamford last season, while left-back Jonny Hall had stints at Step 3 with St Neots and Step 4 with Soham last term.
Sports then go to Lincoln United on Wednesday (August 16).
Spalding United and Stamford AFC will be among Sports’ main rivals in Division One South this season,
Spalding surprised many with a third-place finish last season, a campaign that ended with a narrow promotion play-off final defeat at Witton Albion.
Stamford were the great under-achievers, but were possibly distracted by a club-record run to the first round of the FA Cup when they were beaten at League Two side Hartlepool.
Both are away on the opening day with Spalding travelling to Stocksbridge Park Steels - the team they beat in the play-off semi-finals last season - while Stamford are at Market Drayton Town.
Both are at home next Tuesday (August 15) with Spalding hosting Corby Town and Stamford entertaining Carlton Town.
Corby are expected to be one of the big hitters at this level.