It was Off the Post’s delight to speak to the Harefield united boss, Jason Shaw who is approaching his 6th year in charge of the club. Since he has been appointed, he has the lead the club to the Spartan division 1 championship in 2019. He the leading the club on the pitch and they are looking like one of the sides to beat in the Spartan premier division this season. We spoke to Jason after a pre-season friendly against Barton Rovers on the 23rd July 2021.
We are speaking after your game against Barton Rovers, it ended with a 8-2, how pleased are you with this result?
It was a good run out for the boys, a good game for Courtney with a hat-trick, he has been playing well in pre-season. He’s had chances in the previous games, but was good to get off the mark for his new club.
His strike partner Zack who returned from uni to play for us scored a hat-trick we also have Richard Pacquette who came on and still scored 2 goals. We didn’t miss too many and took our chances today against Barton Rovers.
How has pre season been for you so far?
Our pre-season has been good, we have only lost 1 player due to covid, so its been a settled squad and the coaches have been putting on good sessions in pre-seasons for the boys.
Any new signing/outgoing?
Lenny Farhall to Uxbridge
Sam Shaw to Hartley Witney
Callum Neil – Edgware
Courtney Austin – Rayners Lane
George Murphy ex Barnet
What is the club’s target for this season?
With the reshuffle, we want to be competing and be in the top 6 around christmas and then push on towards the end of the season and be in that promotion race. We want promotion and we want to be in that mix. But there are a few clubs in this division with good budgets and players so it will be tough.
You have now been in charge of the club for 6 years, have you been pleased with the progression the club has made?
I am really pleased with the progression we have made, with the majority of us having been here from the start such as myself, Michael and Derek so there has been a stable back room team to help the players progress.
While It’s not great losing the like of Sam and Lenny to other clubs, but shows the progression of the football club and especially for our younger players such as them who came through the youth system If it can help the reputation of the club to attract youngsters or players to the club its great. These two also helped the club get from step 6 to 5 and hopefully the next youth players can take us to step 4 football.
When we arrived at the club they were in debt,but to look at the club on and off the field, we are now going in the right direction. We now have a B squad now allowing players to come back from injury and to also integrate the younger players into the squad which can only help and aid their development as players.
Are you pleased with two former players who have now progressed higher up the pyramid in Charlie Goode and Blaise?
Again this shows the club and the work that goes on. A few of these were before my time, but Blaise came through the youth side and into the 1st team for the year we went up. I encourage him to go for the move, even though I did tell him it’s a bit cold up in Scotland.
Do you think/hope the season will be completed this time? What do you make of the league front loading fixtures?
I do agree with this, we do need the games in and i’d rather play a lot more at the start of the season with how we like to play. I’m happy with that and hopefully it suits us.
Who do you think will be the hardest team to take on in the division given the sideways moves?
Leighton will be in around the title, Biggleswade, Oxhey Jets. Risborough will be strong and they have 2 ex Harefield players there. But the first 3 will be up and around the title race. But there are a few new teams who will be around them, so it will be interesting to see what they bring.
Your side are one of the top scoring teams in the division, do you hope to keep up with this in the current season?
We do indeed, we will always create chances and hopefully we keep this up through the season. If we can get 30 goals from Courtney, then maybe 15-20 from Richard Paquette and Tash Jordan will contribute as well, we will be one of the top scoring teams in the division.We can create the chances, we just need to put them away and then hopefully we will be in that top 6 mix as i said earlier.
One of your most experienced players Richard Pacquette was injured last year, is he fully fit?
He is fully fit now. He is one of the first names on the team sheet and he always looks after himself. I see him and Courtney working well upfront this season and with the youngsters around him will only develop them.
How do experienced players such as Richard help the side develop?
He is now part of the coaching staff as a player/coach and around his fitness. His experience is massive and he is a great role model for the youngsters and at 38. The young players can learn a lot from the feedback he gives to them considering his time in the game.
With no club ground sharing, will this help the pitch stay strong through the season?
It does depend on the weather, but we have now more control over it. But we also have the B squad and the U18 side who use the pitch. So around 20-30 less games on it throughout the season.
What is the target for the club in the short/medium term?
The long term aim is to get to Step 4, then stabilize at that level, then players who have been there and done it at that level. But to progress and grow year on year.
What are the biggest issues facing non league and your respective club?
Finances is always a challenge, so although we dont have a massive player budget like some other clubs in our leagues we have managed to keep the club going during the lockdowns we have faced and that has to be the priority over everytning. no club no football. I believe the club can progress and move forward providing we don’t have another lockdown. Hopefully with the vaccinations there should be no more future financial impact on us and other non league clubs who have faced difficult times during these lockdowns
Do you think covid will bring more people into watching non league games?
I think there will be a percentage of people that wont want to return to big packed stadiums and want to get a football fix and hopefully we see more crowds at non league stadiums such as here at Preston Park.