Consolidation is crucial for club adapting to new level
IVEL Barbarians chairman Roy Murgatroyd has set the club the target of consolidation in Southern Counties South this season.
Ivel are embarking on their first campaign in the division after winning the Dorset and Wilts One title last season. The Yeovil club has seen their player pool boosted over the summer, which has had a positive effect on both Ivel's first and second teams.
And new chairman Murgatroyd, who replaced long-serving head Harold Williams in the closed-season, believes that retaining that strong level of squad depth will help benefit the entire club.
Murgatroyd said: "Obviously the first thing we must do is make sure we stay in that league.
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"We're not looking to go rushing up and get promoted at this stage, we just want to consolidate and be at the right level to stay in that league.
"We have very high hopes for our seconds but for our firsts, the league they are entering has had a big reshuffle and there are now some very strong teams in that, and we definitely have a stronger pool of players, which has benefited both our first and second teams.
"Hopefully as the youth team starts more and more players play – and importantly they are staying around for us now - then we hope to consolidate the squad even further and provide the depth we need to try and make a move.
"The squad is getting stronger and that has to be our main aim so we can compete quite comfortably. We have to retain our pool of players and match the level for that league."
Murgatroyd also sung the praises of new coach Sam Cuff, who arrived at Ivel in the summer, and said his arrival has had a positive influence on the playing squad.
"Sam's very good and I've heard him say to the players on numerous occasions 'you are not going to beat teams by 60 or 70 points like last season'. He's very firmly keeping their feet on the ground but at the same time reminding them that they are a good side.
"He's picked up on one or two weaknesses that he's working on to make them stronger, but he's definitely keeping them grounded and not allowing them to get carried away, which has been very impressive."
One of the key factors behind Ivel's recent success has been the strong family atmosphere at the club.
The club prides itself on its inclusive nature, with a number of teams that cater for all ages and abilities, as well as a strong ladies' set-up and a prospering youth academy that has been utilised to benefit the senior teams to great effect.
It is a community-minded spirit that Murgatroyd is exceptionally proud of, and he was keen to stress that Ivel are always on the lookout for new players, with any fresh faces always welcome at the club.
"There seems to be a nucleus of people up there doing lots of jobs and I always seemed to be one of them. We've got a real family atmosphere at the club and we're keen to promote that," he said.
"We always have to be open and welcome to everyone because we don't retain players for that long a period.
"If people want to play at a social level then that's fine and if they are keen to improve and want to play in some of the tougher competitions we can offer that as well. We just welcome everyone. Anyone that comes to us is important."