This time last season, Preston Edwards was part of a Fleet side still searching for a home win. And on his 23rd birthday weekend, they found it, beating Mansfield Town 3-1. A year on, the 24-year-old goalkeeper is hoping to celebrate in much the same way as Bath City come to town. Read on to find out Preston’s thoughts on meeting a fellow world record holder, his feelings about re-signing for the Fleet… and which new member of the squad has the tightest shorts in Kent.
Q. Having turned 24, it’s obviously meant the end of your England C career. How much do you think you’ll miss the experience of international duty?
A. I’ll miss the England experience a huge amount. I’ve been in the England setup since the age of 17 when I was at Millwall, until the age of 23 at Ebbsfleet. The England experience shows how well you’re doing at your club and it’s an honour to represent your country at any level. It was a nice touch at the end for them to make me captain on my last game in Bermuda.
Last season, you followed up your birthday with our first home league win of the season against Mansfield. Are you hoping to repeat the trick this time around?
I would like to win every game possible but especially in my birthday week. A clean sheet would be nice as well.
Speaking of repeating the trick, did you know you’re up against a fellow world record-holder on Saturday? Bath striker David Pratt is the fastest outfield sending-off, with only three seconds on the clock. Will you be trading much banter with him on Saturday?
All I know I was the fastest goalkeeper to be sent off. I will have a little word in his ear on Saturday to say I nearly beat him!
Being one of the Fleet’s longest-serving players, has it been much of a culture shock to return to what has been an entirely new setup this season?
The club deserves the new change. Its been through some rough times recently and it’s nice we have got good investment and fresh ideas. I’m really enjoying the change and long may it continue.
Supporters were obviously over the moon at having you on board again this year. What were your main reasons for re-signing in the summer, as you’d publicly bid farewell a short time before?
At the end of last season the atmosphere at the club wasn’t great. Most people didn’t think we would have a club and I thought it was time to move on. However, when the Fleet had the big change in the summer, it changed everyone’s approach entirely. I see myself, players and fans talk more positively and I’m delighted I re-signed.
Can you see as far ahead as playing full-time football, either with the Fleet or elsewhere, or is it just a case of a season at a time?
You never know anything in football. So you do have to take it at a season at a time. I would love to be playing football full-time again though.
Are the squad feeling any pressure this season, what with the first win taking five games to arrive?
No, not feeling any pressure at all really as it’s very early days yet. It’s nice to get the first win, of course, and we’re just looking upwards now.
This season you have another new goalkeeping colleague in Brandon Hall. Are you feeling under pressure yet for that No.1 jersey?
Brandon is a great young goalkeeper and will only get better. It’s unfortunate that there is only one position in goal so that’s why there is such competition. And he brings a fierce competition, so I have to stay on my toes.
Brandon aside, you’ve obviously got a whole host of new teammates to get along with. Who’s the new joker of the pack?
The new joker in the pack. Hmmmmm…. let’s say Cookie is a character. And Michael Thalassitis just makes me laugh because he’s so stupid!
And Craig Stone somehow had the reputation of the worst fashion sense in the dressing room. Who’s his successor for that coveted award now?
The worst fashion sense goes to Dean Rance. The tightest shorts in Kent.
Do you keep in regular touch with the lads who have gone to Dover? Are there any private wagers about who’s going to finish above the other this season?
I do still keep in touch with a few of the boys. They were good teammates of mine. We will finish above Dover without a doubt!
How was the banter in the Dover game? Did you get much behind-the-goal chat bearing in mind the new rivalry between the clubs and the fact you played at Crabble?
I didn’t get much abuse from the Dover fans. I enjoyed my time down there, won the league title with them and it’s a good club.
Thanks Preston… finally, what’s your prediction for Saturday?
Saturday we will win 2-0. Alex Osborn to get his first goal. Plus a Billy Bricknell tap-in.
And for the season?