“Thank god, pre-season is over and I’m really looking forward to starting the season on Saturday”. quipped Dawson. “It’s been a hard couple of weeks with where we have been and we’ve had some very long days, but it’s all geared up for Saturday now. This game is what we have all waited for. I said the same when I joined, it’s getting very close now and with us being at home, I just can’t wait to get the season under way.
“All the lads just want to get started now, there is only so much running you can do, the long days but everything that we have done has been structured and all done in the right way, but now we have to make it count on Saturday.”
Dawson is under no illusion that this is going to be a tough season for all the players but even touched into a philosophical mode when thinking about his response to a long hard season.
“Walsall will be saying the exact same thing that we are. Every team will be saying the same thing. We’ve set the standards high and it’s always vital to get off to a good start but, in saying that, it’s not life or death, it’s just a game of football that is going to be won or lost on Saturday, but with the standards that we have set, we want to get off to a good start on Saturday.
“We have a good strong group of lads in the dressing room, and its needs to be. It’s a long old season, there will be plenty of ups and downs and we all have to stick together. It’s not going to be plain sailing.”
Whilst the ambition of the Chairman and manager has been public knowledge since the end of last season, the Bury skipper was keen to stress that the season will not be an easy one and looks to the strength of the division with plenty of good teas all aiming for just two promotion spots.
“This is probably one of the hardest leagues to get out of, with the quality of teams that are coming down or coming up. I could, realistically, say that there are 12 to 15 teams that could have a good chance of going up. I do believe that there are many teams that want to do what we want to do.
“I’m looking forward to it, bring on the challenges. Now we just have to hit the ground running come Saturday. I know Walsall, I’ve played them many times over the years and they are a well-organised side, they keep the ball well and we know that it will be a really tough game for us and, hopefully, we can come out on top.”
“This is what we are paid to do. You’re not going to win anything playing a pre-season friendly game. The league counts, the cup games count. The only fear amongst all of us is, please God, do not get injured. One or two of the lads do have knocks, but that happens at every club, but they are doing great and the manager has a very good squad to choose from.”
With three players returning to the club after lengthy spells away from Gigg Lane, Stephen Dawson is, perhaps, the best player to sum up the difference between the club he left ten years ago and the club he re-joined over the summer.
“The difference in the club from my last spell here is as different as night and day. It’s incredible just how far the club has come, even just coming into Carrington and I know every player goes on and on about it, people must be sick of hearing about it, but if you can’t come into Carrington every day with a smile on your face and go out to train on those pitches, then you shouldn’t be playing football. This is probably the best training facility that I’ve been at in my whole career. It’s incredible.
“For all of us, it’s just roll on Saturday, let’s get it started. We’ve seen all the build-up on the TV and in the papers, let’s just get it started now. We’ve done a lot of work on Walsall like they have done on us. We will go into Saturday knowing their strengths and weaknesses. Now we really need to start and show the fans all the hard work that we have done.