Former Manchester United academy player Michael Sacks believes exciting times lie ahead at Wingate & Finchley as the team prepares to start their new campaign in the Ryman League Division One North at Great Wakering Rovers tomorrow.
The 20-year-old centre back recently moved to London due to work commitments. Upon leaving FC United during the summer, he had his heart set on joining the Abrahams Stadium club: "As soon as I found out I was moving to London, my first phone call was to manager Michael Stone, even before telling my old man.
"Wingate is a great club and the future looks really bright. There is a big Jewish community here and I know a lot of people. I'm excited to be here."
Before joining FC United, Sacks was at Old Trafford for two years from the age of 15 and was trained by former Republic of Ireland and Manchester United hard man Roy Keane, who was doing his coaching badges at the time. "I also trained with Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs," said Sacks.
"In the end though getting a contract was between me and another young player, Ryan Shawcross, and he won. He has gone on to join Stoke City and will play in the Premier League this season."
However, Sacks is not bitter and understands how cruel the game can be. And he admits how pleasing it is to be playing football in a Jewish environment. "It's good that there are several Jewish players here. Obviously, Wingate would like to have more but we are playing at a very high standard. Jewish boys can make it but it doesn't just require ability. It requires a lot of commitment and that is just something most of them don't have."
As for Stone, he believes the club are making small steps in the right direction: "We've had a good pre-season and it's also nice to see a good competition for places. This is what we wanted to see with players looking over their shoulder to battle and earn the right to start.
"Last season we struggled to stay in this league, so you can't expect to make the turnaround so quickly. We're also making strides off the pitch but it's going to be a slow and steady progress. The aim is trying to maintain and establish ourselves in this league."
Vice-captain Craig Ellis also expressed his excitement about the new campaign. He is aiming to improve his disciplinary record which saw him sent off twice last term.
He said: "We've gained a lot more experienced players who have played at higher level and have a good mix now of youth and experience.
"We want to see improvement from last season. With the likes of Dean Nyman, Daniel Stanton, myself and now Mike Sacks there is a good a breed of Jewish players."