THERE'S a welcome early season boost for Billericay Town fans with the experienced midfielder Glenn Poole re-signing for promoted Blues' first ever campaign in the Blue Square Bet South.
The 31 year-old declared: "I wanted to stay and I've agreed it with the gaffer (Craig Edwards) and I can't wait for us to get started."
Poole, who scored the vital penalty kick away to Margate in their 2-2 draw that secured promotion from the Ryman League Premier Division, made 21 appearances for the Blues since signing last December and was an influential player in their promotion run-in.
"I'm really pleased to have signed on for what will be a great experience for many of the players and I think we will more than hold our own at this higher level," he said. "I did have another offer come in to me but I didn't want to leave this great group of players because we're a real unit."
Poole, who the previous season left Braintree Town after helping them to promotion to the Blue Square Bet Premier, said he had his reasons for leaving the Amlin Stadium outfit.
"Perhaps it was pride that made me make the decision to leave but I've no regrets at coming to Billericay," he added.
Poole also revealed that he had never won promotion with a club and then stayed on but he was only too happy this time around adding: "I know Craig has some good players lined up to strengthen us and I think it's going to be a good season and I can't wait for it to start."
He went on: "I have agreed to stay and I really do believe we can surprise a few people next season. It's going to be tough because there are some good sides in the division but I'm confident we will do well."
Edwards this week confirmed that when pre-season training starts on June 30 he expects to have 40 to 50 players with many coming in as trialists.
"We've invited all of last season's championship winning side of course plus probably around another 20 or so players," he said. "We'll have a look at all of the new players and then whittle them down and hopefully pick up a couple of good, young prospects as we did last year," said Edwards.
"We've the same playing budget as had in the Ryman League and I believe it will be the smallest in the Blue Square Bet South.
"But we'll be giving it a go and the sole aim is to establish ourselves and stay in the league," he said. "I know there are bigger and better financed clubs we'll compete against but we'll not worry about that."
He added: "All the players, even those from last season, know that there will be competition for places in every position and everyone will have to earn their place in the side."
Town have been made 5-1 on gaining promotion which has astounded Edwards who added: "We're fifth favourites to go up and I can't believe that!"
He went on: "That won't worry me because I know that with the limited resources available we'll still have a good, workmanlike side out from the first game and we'll have a real go in every game."
The Blues have arranged nine friendlies with the first being a short trip to Waltham Forest on July 7. This is followed by Great Wakering Rovers (away) on July 14, Heybridge Swifts (away) on July 17, and Canvey Island (away) on July 21.
There are two more away games at East Thurrock (July 24) and Wingate & Finchley (July 28) before the first home game against Enfield Town on July 31.
Town then go up the East Coast on August 4 to play Lowestoft Town and are home on August 11 to Leiston.