GARRY Flitcroft insists a mix of team spirit and support from the stands will ensure Chorley will be a force in their debut campaign in the Vanarama Conference North.
Last season’s Evo-Stik League Premier Division champions will be up against clubs with bigger budgets – AFC Fylde, Barrow and Harrogate Town to name but three – in 2014-15.
But Magpies manager Flitcroft, whose side will also go head to head with the likes of Stockport County and Boston United in the second tier of non-league football, is refusing to rule out a second successive promotion push.
North Ferriby United and Hednesford Town proved when they finished in the top four last season that teams coming up a level can make an immediate impact.
But what fills Flitcroft with the most belief is the togetherness among his players and the fact that Chorley, who regularly attract crowds of more than 1,000, will have one of the biggest backings in the division.
The Magpies are anticipating a bumper gate for today’s season opener at home to Lowestoft Town (3pm) and Flitcroft, who has guided the club to two promotions in his four years in charge, said: “I’m happy with my squad this year.
“A lot of teams have spent big money but we’ve got a big team spirit and a big heart and I think we can be up there this year.
“The likes of Fylde only get 250 fans but they’ve got a monster budget because they’ve got a backer.
“We’ve got to work with our resources but we’ve got a great fan base of 1,500 – and we even had 2,100 last year – and if we can generate the same sort of crowds that will help my budget.”
Flitcroft has signed left back Adam Dodd following his release from Blackpool, centre back Tom Smyth from Colwyn Bay, midfielder Harry Winter from big rivals and fellow promoted outfit Fylde, and former FC United of Manchester defender Kyle Jacobs.
And on the eve of the campaign Flitcroft added Jack Lynch to his squad. The midfielder had impressed in pre-season and moves to Victory Park from Carlisle United, where he made one appearance in League One last season.
But the ex-Blackburn Rovers captain has lost Paul Woolcott to retirement and Keil O’Brien to League Two side Bury.
Flitcroft, whose brother David manages Bury, said: “We had a brilliant season last year.
“But we’ve had four good years here with two promotions and a play-off final loss.
“But last year just topped it off really. Right from the beginning of the season I knew we were going to do well, we looked strong in pre-season and I got the players in that I wanted.
“It was a tough season and the pressure was on but the lads came through. Now we can’t wait to go again.”