THE new chairman of Henley Town Football Club says the team should be aiming for promotion this season.
Kim Chapman, who took over the post in June after four months as acting chairman, has also vowed to put the club “back on the map”.
Henley kick off their season tomorrow (Saturday) with a trip to Old Woodstock Town in Division 1 East of the Uhlsport Hellenic League and Chapman is excited about how the team is shaping up.
He said: “We’ve got a new squad with lots of new players so it depends on how we start. Hopefully we will be able to tell in the first five or six games whether we can challenge for promotion and by Christmas we will know if it’s a realistic possibility.
“We have a new training regime this year and training has been first class in pre-season. We have some very professional players who have been put through their paces and seem a lot fitter this year.
“What I want to achieve is to get a good first team which can get promotion to the next level of the Hellenic league and get the club back on the map.”
Henley have already brought in 10 players during the close season, including the return of midfielder Elliot Whitehouse from Hartley Wintney, Jack Mew from Maidenhead and former Wycombe Wanderers trainee Asa Povey.
Centre forward Grant Temp also joins from Burnham after spending last season on the sidelines with a slipped disc.
There has been a change in the dugout too, with Craig Sumner joining to share managerial responsibilities with current boss Craig Hiscock.
Sumner, who led Sonning FC to the Reading Football League Division 1 title last season, previously coached the youth team at Henley Town, winning the Oxfordshire Youth Cup in 2013.
He said: “Craig asked me to join up with him to create a more youthful side and hopefully it will work for us. I’m more of a coach than ae_SClBmanager but we will both be responsible for team selection.
“The reserves have been strengthened by some 19 and 20-year-olds because almost the entire reserve team left last season. Most of the first team squad has stayed.
“We want to finish higher than last year and if we can get towards the top end of the table it would be a good achievement. We want to play good football on a surface which has improved over the past two years.”
The Red Kites will also return to the FA Vase this year. They were given a bye in the first qualifying round and will go on to face Chinnor on October 4.
It is one of four cup competitions the team will compete in this season and Chapman is hopeful the new set up can lead to success.
He said: “We have two new managers, both highly qualified, who have brought in new players and will share the responsibility.
“It was such a hard job for Craig Hiscock on his own last year so this time we have one who can run the side each week and the other can say whether he thinks it’s right or wrong. They are equals really.
“We have Chinnor away in the Vase so our fingers are crossed for that game. It’s the first time we’ve been in the Vase for a long time but if we play well and the team pulls together we can beat them.”
Chapman is also keen to get the club more involved with the Henley community this season.
He said: “We want to get the club running as it should be and involve the local community.
“We’ve already got a youth set-up for 16 to 18-year-olds and on Fridays we run a youth club for seven to 14-year-olds. It helps us to get the kids to come down and keeps them off the streets.
“We have also met with Dieter Hinke to try and get a bond with AFC Henley.
“We need to make the club a community club again. Henley Town is going forwards.”