HARWICH and Parkeston boss Kieron Shelley wants to hit the ground running as his club prepare for their long-awaited return to senior football.

The Shrimpers begin a new chapter in their history on Saturday when they play their opening Thurlow Nunn League division one south fixture at home to White Ensign.

It will be their first match back at step six of the non-league football pyramid, having spent recent years in the Essex and Suffolk Border League.

Shelley, who took over shortly after the end of last season, is raring to go and believes organisation and local pride will be key ingredients when the action gets underway.

“We want to hit the ground running,” said the former FC Clacton manager, who this week confirmed the signing of former Brantham Athletic man Sean Gunn.

“It’s going to be a really open league and there will be a lot of hungry players, buzzing and determined to cause a bit of noise.

“They’ll stick together to try and win matches and that’s exactly the kind of mentality we’re trying to generate over here.

“The players have been turning out in big numbers for training and they’re responding to what we say.

“There’s never been an argument or cross word. Everyone’s just keen to learn and be successful together.

“There’s a lot of local players here and that’s what attracted me to the job when I left Clacton.

“As a player, from outside the area, I always looked over here with envious eyes.

“There’s always been a knitted group of players who always stuck together and when you played against them you knew you were in a game of football.

“All the local fans would come out and get behind the local players and, as the opponent, you always knew it was going to be a tough afternoon or evening.

“We want to bring that back to Harwich.”

Shelley says he is not “deluded” in terms of what his squad can achieve this season.

However, he is backing his players to “turn heads” by initially making themselves safe and then hopefully continuing to climb the table.

“It’s an unknown quantity for everyone and that’s why we came back early – to make sure we’re organised,” he said.

“Being organised is half the battle.

“The journey’s just starting and who knows where it’s going to end?

“Hopefully the wheels keep turning and we can turn a few heads this season.

“We’re not deluded and I’m not standing here saying we’re going to finish in the higher reaches of the table.

“We’ll be looking to stay safe and get those points on the board and then we’ll sit down as a group and talk about what we achieve after that.

“That’s my philosophy.

“It’s small steps, but with the right attitude and desire, we hope to get the right results.

“We’re fully prepared and up for the task and we hope the town gets behind us.”

Harwich completed their pre-season campaign with a 4-1 victory against Leiston Reserves.

The Shrimpers have another home league game on Tuesday night against neighbours Holland FC.