THE doors at Homers Heath have swung off their hinges in recent weeks as Buckland Athletic have welcomed a glut of new talent into the side ahead of the 2023/24 season.
Gaffer Dan Hart has hardly spent a minute off his phone over the summer as he has ensnared one addition to his coaching team and the services of six new players.
Three players – Callum Martindale, Callum Watson and Sam Leary – arrive from Saltash United, who were narrowly beaten to the Western League title last season. A further duo in the form of Teigan Rosenquest and Reece Shanley commit to the Bucks from Cornish side Helston Athletic and Josh Grant, who appeared for Buckland in the curtain-closing defeat at Barnstaple Town last term, joins from Southern League side Tavistock AFC.
'I think [the signings] show that the recognition of the club and the status of the club is where we want it to be moving,’ said Buckland boss Hart.
'When I first joined, we spoke about wanting the club to be the most appealing in all of Devon and Cornwall and I really believe it is – even with clubs that sit at higher levels at present.
'I feel we can really start to attract players from leagues above, to show them what we want to do, what we want to achieve, how we can give them an environment where they can enjoy their football week-in, week-out and hopefully that can pay dividends on the pitch.’
The six-man swoop comes after Buckland tied several of last season’s stars to contracts. Hart believes that the competition for places in the team created by these arrivals is healthy for the squad.
'From my own career, the successful teams I’ve been in are the ones where you’re turning up to training or a match day and you’re always constantly having to earn your place and perform at your best level,’ he said.
'We had a fantastic building year last year where we achieved our goal but it comes naturally to want to move on from that and try to achieve something special.
'Naturally, with the squad size that we have, there will be some victims of [the competition for places] and I am sure our squad will shrink slightly before the season starts.
'We have made a pledge to allow all the existing players at the club to train in pre-season, to prove their worth and to come back fit and sharp and to buy into what we do. For us, they deserve that at the very least because they were fantastic last year and bought completely into what we are trying to do.’
Hart’s ambitions have also seen the strengthening of the team off the pitch. The familiar face of Danny Lewis will be seen around Homers once again.
'Danny played for Buckland for four years and captained them when they won the South West Peninsula League and went into the Western League and then I played with him when he left the club and headed to Plymouth Parkway,’ Hart said.
'He’s spent time since then as a player and as an assistant and was manager in the final months of his time at Saltash. I think that he will bring real tenacity and his energy and enthusiasm will match mine.’