In the first of a new feature for this season, Phil Spencer, a new member of our reporting team, interviews Harvey Neary, man of the match against Penrith.
Harvey Neary believes that getting points on the board in the early weeks of the season is the only thing that matters.
Whitley Bay started the season with a 2-0 win over Penrith Town on Saturday with the South Shields academy graduate bagging a brace and scooping the man of the match award as a result.
Speaking of what it was like playing the first match of the new campaign, Neary said: “It was hard getting into it.
“I just wanted to ease myself into the game.
“We had a bit of a disjointed preseason with holidays and stuff so it was more about getting gelled together with the new signings and trying to make everything work that we’ve been working on.”
“Three points is all you can ask for really,” he added.
“Nicky says it all the time, the first six weeks of the season is just about getting points on the board.
“You’re not going to play your best football coming in off preseason so the most important thing is winning the game and keeping a clean sheet as well. It helps the confidence of the team.”
Scoring twice in the league opener will no doubt be a confidence boost, with Neary joking: “I only got five or six last year I think so I’m already on my way to beating that!
Personally, I just want to try and score as many as possible, but it’s the same for everyone.”
Tonight’s clash with West Allotment Celtic is the second of four matches that Whitley Bay face at Hillheads in the space of just two weeks.
With seven fixtures scheduled for the month of August – five of those being at home – Neary believes that the busy calendar gives the team a good chance to jumpstart their campaign.
He said: “Last year was just as busy.
“I think we went the first 18 games unbeaten and that set us on the way for a good season so hopefully if we can recreate that we can have a good season by getting a good run going in the first few weeks of the season.
“It’ll only help the confidence of the team.”
Asked how he he handles the demanding fixture list, Neary said: ““For me personally, I like to get myself out and get some blood in my legs rather than sit inside feeling sorry for myself.
“So I’ll rest up, recover and you’ve just got to roll with it and get through it.”
Whitley Bay narrowly fell short of promotion last season despite an impressive campaign in which they finished fourth in the EBAC Northern League Division One.
With the play-offs opening up as a potential target this term, it’s clear that The Bay will be looking to improve on last year’s display to put in a genuine promotion push.
Discussing targets for the season, Neary said: “You just want to improve on what you did last year.
“We finished fourth and so anything higher than that is a bonus.
“You’ve also got the playoffs this year so you want to be in the mix for that, or challenging for promotion and getting out of the league.”
Neary also admitted to having some targets of his own, however he did confirm that they are very much secondary to the success of Whitley Bay as a team.
Asked about his own objectives, Neary said: “I set some in the back of my head but I don’t really look into it too much as long as I’m doing my best to help the team.
“The most important thing to me is getting the win, that’s more important than any personal goals that I might have. I just want to win the game, win the next and carry it on.”