Barkby United are confident they can erase the memories of their previous top flight fling and establish themselves among the Premier Division’s elite this summer.
Their only previous season at County League’s top table came in 2010 when they survived just one season, but they have maintained their key players of last season’s promotion-winning campaign and added to it.
Former Leicestershire CCC batsman Matt Boyce joined the club mid-season upon his retirement from first class cricket ?? and has re-signed for 2016, along with Aiden Morris, while Eamonn Burke returns.
New signing Nitesh Vadgama will strengthen the batting depth after his move from Kirby Muxloe, while all-rounder Max Carmichael returns after success with Queniborough.
The club will also have former county player Tom Flowers available for his first full season at Beeby Road in six years as Barkby’s head of cricket. His brother Steve, meanwhile, skippers a side which will be dominated by homegrown talent when they open the season at County League powerhouses Loughborough Town.
Tom said: “The squad has prepared well and looks in good shape, and we will be honest to ourselves and play the same positive brand of cricket that has helped us back here again.
“We are in better shape as a squad since our last outing in the Premier League with the same young, homegrown players a lot more experienced and ready equipped for the challenges ahead.
“Ultimately, we will fear no-one, and our aim is to take one game at a time and secure Premier League status for 2017.”
Steve added: “We have prepared superbly throughout the winter, and we are hoping to do much more than just compete in the league this year.
“I’m certain we will raise a lot of eyebrows and spring some surprises on the way.”
Barkby’s Second XI are also keen to close the gap to the Firsts after slipping down to Division Five East last season.
They get under way at home to Oakham Seconds.
Captain Adam Cookson said: “Our depth of squad means that with a very strong First XI, our Seconds will gain strength in parallel.
“We had a great team spirit last year even though we had a poor year performance-wise, so hopefully we can build on that ethos and produce something special this season.”
The Third XI, meanwhile will be led by new skipper Mike Lilley in Division 10 East.
“I think players should see this time as an opportunity to put their hand up, earn their way and achieve their season goals, whatever they may be,” he said.