MANAGER Graham Kemp is challenging his charges to make history at Hamworthy United after capturing Conference South winner Chris Dillon and Wessex hotshot Martin Warren.
The esteemed duo form part of a quintet of new arrivals at the County Ground alongside wideman Tom Price, former Christchurch midfielder Dan Blackburn and ex-Wimborne Town youngster Liam Donachy.
Hammers’ sixth-place finish in the Wessex League’s top flight in 2005 remains the club’s best league performance but Kemp believes his bolstered squad is capable setting a new standard in the forthcoming campaign, writes Andy Mitchell.
“The squad is where I want it to be now,” said Kemp. “After making some key signings our squad is as good as most in the league and as long as we’re on our game, we will be a force to be reckoned with.
“It’s our first full season here and we want to make our own mark. My aim is to achieve the club’s highest finish and if we surpass that quickly, I might reassess our targets.
“The pundits on social media don’t even have us down for the top 10 so I’m sure it will be an interesting season either way.”
Centre-half Dillon, who emerged under Kemp at Christchurch, played in America and Australia before being snapped up by Eastleigh where he made 18 starts and five substitute appearances en route to winning non-League’s second tier last season.
Despite his subsequent release, Spitfires boss Richard Hill gave the flexible left-sided defender a glowing reference, stating that Conference South clubs “could do a lot worse than to sign him”.
But with Dillon’s football career currently restricted by work commitments, Kemp swooped quickly to land his former protégé.
United’s boss added: “Chris is just starting the process of applying for the fire brigade and I understand that won’t be a five-minute job so we hope to have him here for a while.
“He would like to be playing higher but at his time of life, career comes first and this is a great coup for us.
"There were only one or two players who could fill Shaun Brian’s boots when he left and Chris was one of them. I’m over the moon.”
Meanwhile, Hamworthy’s protracted pursuit of Warren, who bagged 19 league goals across spells with Bournemouth Poppies and Blackfield & Langley last season, has finally paid off.
Kemp said: “You need more than two out-and-out strikers to be successful and while Russell Cook and Ben Osborne have done well for us, we recognised the need to have alternatives.
“They have been like Batman and Robin over the past few years but looked a bit jaded towards the end of last season.
"Expecting anyone to be on-song for 60 games at this level is just not realistic, so Martin will have a big part to play.”