Skipper Graves has eyes on top five place

Eric Graves
Eric Graves

Belper Town captain Eric Graves was in optimistic mood as the Nailers returned to the training pitch last week.

The 29-year-old is no stranger to pre-season training and knows fully what to expect this time around whilst also aiming to be a leading example to the younger players around him.

And with just under a fortnight to go until the opening friendly against Ashby Ivanhoe, Graves is aware of some tough sessions ahead.

He said: “Pre-seasons don’t change too much as there’s always a lot of hard work involved.

“When I first started out years ago, we didn’t see a football for the first two weeks but nowadays you tend to do some hard running, then some shorter, sharper stuff and then get the football out and see if you can deal with itwhen your legs are shattered.”

In the build-up to the new season the Nailers will line-up against Championship side Burton Albion, a club that Graves once plied his trade for back when the Brewers were a non-league club.

He said: “This should be a good pre-season friendly and hopefully we can get quite a few fans through the gate.

“For me, it will be nice to play against them, although it may turn out that we are given the run around.

“Every season they get promoted it makes my footballing CV look even better. They have the management team from when I was there, with Clough, Garner and Taylor. And then the legend that is Rocky the kitman is still around so it would be great to see him again.”

After last season’s 13th place finish, Graves will be looking to make this campaign a huge one for Belper Town as he looks to guide them to promotion.

He added: “This year we obviously need to get off to a better start than we did last year. We need to give ourselves a platform to push on towards a top five finish.

“It would be nice to have a decent cup run in the FA Cup or FA Trophy as well if we can. That would be good for the lads, the fans and the chairman.”

On his role as skipper, Graves continued: “I suppose I feel a bit of pressure but I enjoy it.

“When things are going well, being captain is easy. It’s when things aren’t going well that it’s my job to try and lift the lads on the pitch.

“I’m learning all the time in the role but I love it and I hope to continue for as long my legs will keep me playing.”