A new era beckons for Ballyclare Comrades as they embark on their Championship 1 campaign this weekend.
During the past 12 months the winds of change have swept through Dixon Park, with the dressing room revolving door turning at a rate of knots.
Since this time last season manager Eddie Hill has resigned, and when his successor, David Dorrian, selects his team to line out against Loughgall, only three of those who started against Larne in the opening fixture in August 2014 remain – Doherty, McCart and Trussell.
Flood, Gage, Agnew, McAlea, Doyle, McClean, Buckley and most recently Cooper have all departed from that original line-up, so the fans will have a new-look team to support.
Dorrian has been active in the transfer market during the close season, bringing in goalkeepers Sean Ward and Gregg Shannon, defenders Sandy McDermott, William Wharry and Michael McQuitty; midfielders John-Brendan Dobbin, Johnny McClurg, Tiago Leite and Stuart King, along with striker Curtis Dempster.
The pre-season programme has been one of the most successful in recent years, with wins against Nortel, Stranraer, Shankill United and Moneyslane, while being denied a win against Ballymena United by an injury-time equaliser. It all augurs well for the future.
But now comes the crunch, with Championship 1 clashes against Loughgall and Lisburn Distillery as well as a tricky Steel and Sons Cup trip to Ards Rangers within the first eight days of the big kick-off.
Club chairman, Trevor McCann, is in buoyant mood. “Despite the loss of so many players, I feel quite confident approaching the new season,” he said. “Our new manager has wide experience and he has brought in quite a number of new players who have been showing up well
“He has excellent contacts in the football world and we have been impressed by his new signings,” he added. “We finished in the bottom half of the table last season, so our immediate aim will be to move up in to the top half.”
Manager Dorrian commented: “There is a fantastic team spirit in our squad, with the new players settling in extremely well during the successful pre season programme. We don’t want to be involved in another relegation scrap this season, and I am aiming for a mid-table finish,” he added.