Promoted Heath are up for the challenge of the top flight

Broadbridge Heath manager Steve Painter
Broadbridge Heath manager Steve Painter
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Broadbridge Heath manager Steve Painter is aware there will be some tough days ahead as they prepare to start life in Division 1 this weekend.

The Bears are new to the league having been promoted from Division 2 last season, and Painter is determined not to let the inevitable baptism of fire darken his side’s spirits.

He said: “We haven’t set any expectations. We’re not lucky to be in Division 1, we deserve to be in Division 1, and the way I see it, we’re going to go out and enjoy it.

“We’re going to have some dark days, but we’re also going to have some good days, and we’ve just got to enjoy it.”

Several new faces will be amongst those looking to enjoy Heath’s higher standard of competition this season, with Danny Mobsby, Jamie Wanstall and Mark Bevan joining from Haywards Heath.

Striker Jack McNab – returning from five seasons in New Zealand – also joins, as do midfielders Jeffrey Mahoodoo (Crowborough) and Tom Gannon (formerly of Horsham YMCA).

Painter is pleased to have expanded his squad and only lost one player (James Day) in the process.

He said: “We’ve got a few in without even trying, really. In previous seasons I’ve been ringing around, trying to get players in – I haven’t had to do that this season – it’s been quite a shock.”

Pre-season has been a mixed bag for Heath, with two losses, three draws and a win notched up so far, with new signing McNab bagging three goals in the process.

Painter is careful to take the season’s prologue with a pinch of salt, however.

He said: “Although it’s important, it gives you time to look at different shapes, different players, different positions, and I never gauge our pre-season as a reflection on how we’re going to start the season.”

Heath are at Loxwood on Saturday, before hosting Horsham YMCA in midweek.