Interview With Second Team Co-Manager Jamie Stones

What are your objectives for the upcoming season? 
 It's no secret that any Men's Second Team wants to be as close as possible to the 1st Team and this is no different for us. There's currently 1 league that separates our two teams and our ultimate objective this season is to bridge that gap. They key aspect in that for me, is making sure we do it in a way that suits the philosophy and core values of Ilkley Town AFC. We love to play with the ball on the floor, at a high tempo and want fans to be excited when they're watching us. If we can do this and bridge the gap to the 1st team, then come May I will be a very happy man!

How are you preparing the players to be ready for the upcoming season? 
We're coming to the end of what has been a fantastic pre-season for us, we've been at it for about 7 weeks now and were really happy with the progress that has been made in that time. Myself and my co-manager James Hirst, have tried to set a framework for success and togetherness in the time we've had so far. Allowing the players to take more responsibility for their individual and team development , which they've done a great job of. Fixture wise we've had some mixed results but the pleasing aspects for me and James is watching the players learn from those experiences, which will really help us in this upcoming season. 

 How does the second team provide a pathway for players into the first team? 
The club has been working tirelessly over the last 9/10 seasons to improve the senior section and juniors, whilst making sure the two have a strong link. It fills me with a lot of pride to manage at a club where you can start your journey as an under 5 and progress all the way through to super veteran football. The role the second team plays in that is quite simple really, we provide a platform for young, promising local players to continue on their journey through the club, we support the first team in taking some of their distinguished 'first team' players to gain match fitness and sharpness. Finally, providing an opportunity for elder ex first team players with lots of experience to come back down to the second team to help guide and develop the younger progressing players. Like I said before, I am very fortunate to have taken over with a fantastic structure in place and credit must be given to Richard Giles, Simon Armstrong, Sam Dexter, David Houlston, Peter Illif, Iain McDonell and many more behind the scene for this. 

Which teams will be a challenge to face this season? 
This is an interesting one, as is the case usually in amateur football, anybody can beat anybody. We have lost 4 very good competitive teams so I think the league will be wide open. There are some clubs in our league this season that our first team had some interesting rivalries with, we are excited to be taking on the baton representing the club in those. I was hoping we would see two more local semi-professional club reserve teams joining us in the league this season but sadly that wasn't meant to be. However, it is great to be welcoming a fellow Semi Professional Club - Harrogate Railway Reserves to the league and I am sure they'll be very competitive.