WHITLEY Warriors have appointed Garry Dowd as coach for a second season.
And he is already preparing to put together a squad that will see the Hillheads outfit able to regain the National League titles they conceded to Billingham Stars in the 2011-12 campaign.
“I’m delighted to be back for another season,” he admitted.
“And I’m looking to build on what we achieved last time round.
“Considering where we started from last summer, with 12 players from the league and play-off winning side departing Hillheads, the squad we managed to put together did really well to push the Stars right until the last week of the season in the league, although we maybe could have done better in the play-offs.
“But this time we pretty much know who will be around and with the right additions, I’m sure we can bring the trophies back to Whitley.”
After losing so many players last time round, Dowd, pictured, has lost just two players at the end of the last campaign, with defenders Rob Wilson and Andrew Cook confirming they will not return.
Eighteen-year-old Cook is going to university and the Whitley coach is confident he will prove to be a good signing for someone.
“Andrew is a good young player and will be an asset to whoever he plays for,” he said.
“But hopefully we will see him back in Whitley colours once his university days are over.
“As for Rob Wilson, he has decided to hang up his skates and will be a huge miss to the club.
“In the dressing room and on the ice, Rob is a very big part of the club and it will be strange to see his peg empty when we turn up for pre-season training.
“But we wish him well and hope to see him at games throughout the coming campaign.”
As to replacements, the coach has begun his search and already identified some of the players he would like to see join Whitley.
“I’ve already spoken to some players about coming to Hillheads,” he said, “and I’m very hopeful we will have at least two or three new players in the squad by the time the campaign gets underway.”
The Warriors will be renewing rivalries with Solway Sharks come September after the Dumfries based club won promotion without dropping a point last season and the two games will be eagerly anticipated, bringing good crowds to Whitley for a resumption of the A69 derbies.
There will also be new opposition at Hillheads next term.
Sutton Sting – who have several players with English Premier League experience in their squad – taking the second promotion slot after beating Nottingham Lions in a play-off to see who completes the line-up in National League Division One.