KEN Rae is keen for Kidderminster Harriers to forget the events of last season and concentrate on the club’s future, writes Peter McKinney.
The Aggborough outfit are gearing up for another season pushing for promotion from the Vanarama Conference Premier.
Manager Gary Whild may have been handed a smaller budget, thought to be in the region of £500,000, to shape his squad, but has had an overall productive summer in the transfer window.
The addition of forwards Craig Reid and Reece Styche, both hit men with proven track records at Kidderminster’s level, have bolstered their strike force.
The addition of experienced full-back Jared Hodgkiss filled one of the gaps left by Mickey Demetriou’s switch to Shrewsbury and Lee Vaughan’s move to Cheltenham Town.
Kidderminster’s retention of highly-rated young players such as Marvin Johnson and Chey Dunkley means the squad is shaping up nicely, and prompted some bookies to put them among the favourites for the title.
Rae certainly believes the club should be aiming for promotion to the Skybet League Two through the play-offs, when they kick off the season at Lincoln City on Saturday (3pm ko).
He said: “You have to be realistic. The budget is reduced from last season but it’s very competitive and Gary’s built a team that is good enough to challenge for the play-offs.”
TRUST “We trust Gary and he’ll spend the money to the best of his ability and we’ll see where we end up. Hopefully we’ll either be champions or we’ll have a day out at Wembley,” he added.
“Reaching the play-offs would bring a sense of achievement and there would be 15 or 16 other teams who would like to get into the top five.
“It was well documented what happened last season but that’s in the past and we look forward to the future and we’ll see how we get on at Lincoln. It’s a tough start followed by a difficult home match against Alfreton.”
The positive business in the summer has ensured that season ticket sales have been healthy, with over 600 already sold.
Last season’s promotion hopes suffered from mid-season instability, with Steve Burr departing in January and his successor Andy Thorn sacked after just two months at the helm.
Eventually, Burr’s right hand man Whild was named manager until the end of the season, and just defeat in their final 13 games, persuaded Rae to hand him the job on a permanent basis.
Rae says he has learned the lessons of his spell as Redditch United chairman.
With one of the smallest budgets in the Conference North, the Reds defied the odds to stay up under the management of Whild, but experienced financial worries before entrepreneur Chris Swan bought them in 2011.
Rae joined Harriers’ board in 2012 but took the role of chairman in March this year after Mark Serrell’s departure.
SPRUCE UP But the new chairman has not wasted any time making his mark with a host of good work during the summer to spruce up Aggborough.
The club have spent £50,000 relaying the pitch and adding an irrigation system.
He said: “It’s a lot different from Redditch because Harriers are a full-time football club and the work that happens behind the scenes to get us ready for this season started when we finish in April.
“We’ve gone through an awful lot this summer, with the stadium being repainted, speakers repaired and replaced as well as a new playing surface so it’s been all hands to the pump.
“I am very fortunate that I have a good band of directors who support me and a very good staff as well.
He added: “The best piece of advice given to me is don’t panic.
“Very often things are taken out of your control and the best thing I can do is give it my all. I always have and I always will.”