TULIPS: New-look Spalding impress Hussey

New Tulips on the block: Back (from left) ' Jay Smedley, Miles Chamberlain, boss Pat Rayment, Jacob Joyce, Andy Toyne; front ' Lee Canoville, Francis Green, Luke Kennedy, Shane Tolley and Kieran Doherty. Missing are Ash Stevens, Lee Drury and Lewis Brooks. Photo (NIKKI GRIFFIN): SG280612-334NG (to order call 01775 765433 or visit www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoto)
New Tulips on the block: Back (from left) ' Jay Smedley, Miles Chamberlain, boss Pat Rayment, Jacob Joyce, Andy Toyne; front ' Lee Canoville, Francis Green, Luke Kennedy, Shane Tolley and Kieran Doherty. Missing are Ash Stevens, Lee Drury and Lewis Brooks. Photo (NIKKI GRIFFIN): SG280612-334NG (to order call 01775 765433 or visit www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoto)
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DANNY Hussey has played in plenty of top teams – but he can’t remember many better than Spalding United’s current crop.

The veteran defender, who is beginning his second season as player/coach with the Tulips, admits to being incredibly excited by the squad recruited by boss Pat Rayment.

Francis Green, Lee Canoville, Shane Tolley, Jordan Joyce and Andy Toyne are among the big names to agree summer moves to the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, in the most eye-catching pre-season of recent memory.

Only Steve Evans’ Stamford side pre-2000 – which boasted ex-professionals David Speedie and Milton Graham – comes close to rivalling the new Spalding in Hussey’s mind, but he’s refusing to get too carried away.

While he expects to have limited playing time this season, the versatile defender reckons his on-field experience could still prove key as the Tulips hope to compete for honours on all fronts.

“There was a real buzz about the place at our first pre-season session on Thursday,” said Hussey. “I’ve been involved with plenty of teams in the UCL Premier Division and beyond, but not many have the ability of this squad.

“Only really the Evans Stamford side comes close and I can’t think of any better in the past ten years or so.

“There’s quality everywhere you look. We’ve got four strikers that will all score goals and will scare any side, while getting Lee Canoville in was massive – nobody thought we’d be able to pull that one off. These kind of players will help the others improve.

“It’s great to have such a strong side, but we now need to work hard off the field to make sure we’re in a position to challenge for the title.

“Everyone will want to beat us next season and we’ll have to be prepared for that.”

With King’s Lynn Town going up – and taking a host of the title-winning Long Buckby side with them – Hussey expects St Ives Town, Newport Pagnell, Quorn, Holbeach United and Deeping Rangers to provide Spalding with their stiffest tests next season.

He’s backed boss Pat Rayment to succeed in his quest to revamp the club from top to bottom – and hopes people are taking notice of the changes being made both on and off the field.

“Pat’s been a revelation for this club,” added Hussey, who was Rayment’s number two in his former job at Deeping. “He’s breathed new life into the team and I think people are starting to change their opinions about the club.

“There’s been a negative perception of Spalding United for quite a while. In terms of signings and putting the club on the map, what more could Pat have done so far? Not much, I’d say.”

Hussey reckons Spalding should be able to field two different sides against Moulton Harrox in their first pre-season fixture at home to Moulton Harrox on Saturday (3pm).