FLEETWOOD Town players new and old warmed to their task yesterday as glorious sunshine greeted the start of pre-season training ahead of the club’s momentous first campaign in the Football League.
The blazing sun may have made it a baptism of fire for the over-30s in the squad, like new recruits Damien Johnson and Jon Parkin, but they were spurred on by some rousing words by Micky Mellon, spelling out that he is targeting a third promotion in four seasons as Fleetwood manager.
Johnson, a League One promotion winner with Huddersfield last season on loan from Plymouth, said: “It’s a big reason why I came here – to challenge for titles and promotion, and I see no reason why we should not be challenging.
“It seems to be the way it goes – the weather hasn’t been great all week, but we all knew that come the first day of training it would be boiling and the sun would be shining.
“They don’t try to kill you on the first day but I think there’s a lot of work ahead of us.”
Striker Parkin, who also had a spell on loan with the Terriers last term from Cardiff, agreed.
He said: “The manager is talking about promotion and that’s what you want to hear.
“I could have plodded about in League One and seen my career fizzle out but I want to really achieve something here.
“The first day of pre-season is something you look forward to and dread at the same time, but it’s nice to get it out of the way.”
Both players can’t wait to start the serious business of a first ever League Two campaign with Town, preceded by a glamour home tie against Nottingham Forest in the Capital One Cup.
Johnson added: “We have some big games to start with, and it’s nice to have one of the biggest teams in the draw in the cup, but there’s plenty of hard work to do before then.
“This really feels like my first day, rather than a few weeks ago when I signed. It’s been nice to have a few weeks off, but by the start of July it’s good to get back to work.”
Parkin added: “I can’t wait to get started, so let’s get these five or six weeks out of the way and get the season under way. But pre-season is part and parcel of being a footballer, so you just get your head down.”
Besides the fitness work, the pre-season enables the new boys to acquaint themselves with their new team-mates, with next week’s training camp in Austria set to be particularly beneficial in that regard.
Northern Ireland international Johnson added: “It’s good to meet the lads finally. I’ve been made to feel very welcome by everyone.
“Hopefully we’ll all be pals after Austria. They all seem nice lads and there are five or six new lads, so I’m not on my own.
“It’s a big year for Fleetwood Town and the set-up here is as professional as any club I’ve been at. It’s really good to meet everyone and settle in.”