Robins supporter Will Edden looks ahead to the new season and discusses pre-season.
There will be cold Tuesday evenings, there will be long away days, there will be infuriating moments that make your blood boil, writes Will Edden.
There will be good times and there will be bad times. You might lose your voice a couple of times. At other times you'll probably question your sanity. You'll experience a huge range of emotions. Who knows? You might even have the time of your life. Brace yourselves. The new season is coming...
And oh how we needed it. The doom and gloom surrounding Whaddon Road at the back end of last season was dangerously infectious. It was as if all the positives from the previous two campaigns had been slowly sucked away over the course of the year and by the time we reached a calamitous 3-2 home defeat to Dagenham, there was nothing positive left. Even those fans that had smiled bravely throughout the bleakest of seasons were now struggling to put an optimistic spin on things. But the beauty of football is that all the difficulties of 2013-14 are now firmly behind us. Rarely in life do you get the chance to forget all that's been before and start afresh. Football is an exception.
One of the best feelings as a football fan is the buzz and the enthusiasm that surrounds the beginning of the season. New signings, a clean start and fresh optimism. Whatever unfolds during 2014-15 we travel to Bury on the opening day as equals with the rest of the league and until that table says otherwise, then supporters can dare to dream. But before that first ball is kicked there is the small matter of pre season.
Anybody who ventured down to Whaddon Road to see us take on Kenny Jackett's Wolves outfit was treated to a beautiful summers evening and some pleasantly surprising football. Cheltenham may have lost the game but there were some encouraging displays and a chance for the fans to see a glimpse of the new additions to the squad. There were more good signs against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday and many now will be expecting big things from Byron Harrison after his superb winner. Lee Vaughan – signed from Kidderminster – has now captained the side against Wolves and Rovers and it is the tough tackling right-back who has caught the eye most. It will be interesting to see who Mark Yates names as his skipper on the opening day as after the Rovers friendly he implied that it may be somebody who is yet to join the club. Player/coach Steve Elliott has also done the job in the past and with whispers of a potential return for the vastly experienced Jamie Cureton, Yates is not short of suitors for the role.
One undeniable benefit of having somebody like Cureton in and around the squad is the skills and know how he can pass on to the younger members of the team. The average age of the squad has come down this season and after relatively successful cameos from Zack Kotwica, Harry Williams and briefly from Joe Hanks last year, it seems there may be – and rightly so – a touch more emphasis on youth this time around. I know I'm not the only one who's excited to see the young players who have signed their first pro deals try and establish themselves at the club and it could be a great way of bringing the players and fans closer together.
The club have been trying hard to bridge the gap between the players and fans and deserve credit for initiatives such as holding an open day at the training ground. Ultimately however the easiest way to bring everyone connected to the club together is success. However in a classic catch 22 situation, one of the best ways of achieving success is everybody sticking together and pulling in the same direction. As always it will be tight in League Two and this season more than ever I think fans are finding it hard to predict what our season may bring. Pre-season offers a fresh start after last year's disappointment and if us fans can get behind the team and the players respond to us, then there's no limit on what we could achieve this season.
You can follow Will on Twitter ((@w_edden) on Twitter to discuss this week's blog. Don't forget that all of this season's official blogs will be available to read throughout the year here.