Stepping out together for our usual post-match chat at Sandhurst Town’s Bottom Meadow back on July 5, Spencer Day appeared to have the weight of the world resting on his shoulders.
He’d just seen an extremely raw and patched-up batch of Farnborough hopefuls handed a tough pre-season examination by the Step 6 Fizzers, forcing him to conduct a thorough 45-minute warm down and an on-the-field reprimand long into the evening night.
“This is going to be the toughest pre-season I’ve had in 16 years of management,” were his exact words to me. And he meant that from the heart.
After losing a plethora of big-name players in the final few months of last season – Donnelly, Connolly, Tarpey, Hammond, Laidler, Inns, Doyle, to name but a few – the Boro chief was handed the unenviable task of rebuilding a squad capable of surviving life in Conference South – and with, reportedly, the league’s lowest budget with which to work his magic.
Suddenly now though, with the new season upon us, there is light at the end of the tunnel – and it’s not just his two weeks on the sun-drenched beaches of Jamaica that have lightened the boss’ mood.
“I’m ecstatic with how pre-season has gone,” Day said after Monday night’s competitive goalless draw with Leyton Orient.
“Time will tell as to how good we are, obviously, but I’m a lot happier, and the good thing is we are still learning.
“We’ve just beaten two Step 3 sides away from home – and beaten them well – and all the players that we’ve brought in this summer have fabulous attitudes.
"There is a really good spirit around the place and I’m delighted that I’m able to put out a very competitive side for what is an extremely tough opening fixture against Boreham Wood.”
Unaware of the renewed hope inside Cherrywood Road, the bookies still make Farnborough one of the favourites to be relegated this season – a fact which only spurs on the Boro chief.
“I like the fact that everyone’s got us heavy favourites to be relegated because if you’d have seen us these last couple of weeks, I’d suggest we were in a really good position to upset the odds again,” he added.
“It spurs me on when I see bookies’ odds because there is a lot of positivity here, both on and off the pitch. People don’t see that.
"We can’t wait to get going, we've had enough of pre-season, we just want to get on and start winning points where it matters.”
With almost all of his preferred targets now tied down to contracts ahead of Saturday’s curtain-raiser, Day could even afford the luxury of welcoming back Dan Bennett to the Farnborough ranks this week.
Released by Day at the end of a disappointing season last term, the enigmatic Bennett has persuaded the boss to give him one last chance to impress and was back in a yellow and blue shirt on Monday night after penning a short-term deal.
Day explained: “It was right that Dan left us in the summer, it was my decision, and I always thought there would be an excellent chance he would be back here for the start of the season.
“Everyone knows I love Dan. He’s a player I’ve had for a long time and is a match-winner on his day. Sometimes players do have to go away for a while and realise that the grass isn’t greener.
"For Dan, this is a clean slate and it’s down to him to prove that he has the form to get into this side, which will no easy task.”
Others who have contributed to an encouraging summer are former Hamilton Academicals winger Declan McAvoy, ex-AFC Wimbledon midfielder Dan Pearse and Blackburn Rovers left-back Arron Tumwa – all who have since signed contracts.
McAvoy, who scored the only goal in a 1-0 win at Walton & Hersham on Saturday, told www.farnboroughfc.co.uk: “It’s great to be part of the squad and the lads, coaching staff and everyone at the club have been excellent with me and I think the coming season is looking to be a bright and successful one.”
Day has also strengthened his squad with two season-long loan deals this week.
After securing goalkeeper Charlie Grainger from Leyton Orient, Day was then given the go-ahead to resurrect a deal to bring Stevenage striker Fejiri Okenabirhie to the club on a similar arrangement.
The 18-year-old, who made his Stevenage debut against Bristol City last season, gave his new employers a scare on Monday, however, after being helped off with a back injury just half-an-hour in, but Day is hopeful the pacy front man will be fit to lead the line on Saturday.
With these exciting new additions on board, Day is hoping the stay-away fans will return to Cherrywood Road this season – starting with the visit of Weston-super-Mare next Monday night (ko 7.45pm) – and already he’s promising they won't be disappointed.
He added: “I can’t tell you what kind of season we will have but what I do know [is] the players will wear those shirts with pride and are really putting a fantastic shift in.
“The club has been through a lot in the last three years, through good times and bad, and we hope that we’ve shown enough in pre-season to get the fans back, and fingers crossed we can start the season well.
“It is a results business and it is momentum both on the off the field which we hope will make everyone particularly proud to be Farnborough supporters.”