WAYNE Whitbread has been in Clee Hill United’s dug-out for so long – he can’t remember the precise length of his stint.

But he has lost none of his passion or enthusiasm for the manager's role – and next week’s big kick-off cannot come quickly enough.

United have enjoyed an impressive pre-season run and host rivals Brown Clee, now managed to Chris Waldron, in their opening Mercian League Division One fixture next Wednesday.

United thrashed Shobdon 8-2 last weekend in a warm-up match.

Whitbread said: “I was trying to work it out the other day how long I have been in charge at Clee Hill and I think this will be my 14th or 15th consecutive season as the manager.

“I love the job and I have been very pleased with pre-season - we have played some really good football in the three games.”

Stevie Preece (2) and Ollie Smith were on target in Hill’s 4-0 win over a depleted Brown Clee in their first warm-up match.

Chris Slingsby and Dave Perks netted in a 2-0 midweek victory over Tenbury United.

And then Hill battered Shobdon 8-2 in a one-sided friendly after braces from Adam Warren, Preece, Ryan Harper and Chris Slingsby.

Whitbread said: “We don’t normally play friendlies against teams in our division but we had arranged the game with Ludlow Town Colts but they folded and the management took over at Brown Clee.

“Brown Clee had a few players who did not show up on the night, so it will be a completely different match next week and I am sure they will have players back.”

Whitbread was disappointed with Shobdon’s showing.

“We were a bit disappointed because we really needed to test ourselves,” said Whitbread.

“When Shobdon turned up they told us they were a mixture of first and second team players.

Hill romped into a 5-0 advantage after just 20 minutes.

“After 20 minutes, the game was over and we took our foot off the gas.”

He added: “We have 22 players signed on and four are rugby players so we can’t afford to pick up too many injuries.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle’s training has been well attended and they have a couple of friendlies to play before the Mid Wales League South season starts on August 16.

Manager John Goodridge said: “We have lost three players from last season’s squad but are very hopeful about bringing a couple in and a few of the younger players who haven't figured regularly over the last couple of seasons will be given the chance to hold down a regular place as they certainly have the potential.”

He added: “The White Horse in Clun has sponsored a new kit for the forthcoming season and Craig Morris Haulage three match footballs.”