POTTERNE captain Neil Clark is refusing to settle merely for consolidation as the villagers prepare for their historic bow in Premier level cricket.

Clark’s men host county rivals Goatacre in their first match in the Wadworth 6X West of England League Premier Two division on Saturday following their promotion from the Glos/Wilts Division last summer.

The Grove side beat Lechlade on the final day of last season to jump up to the highest stage in their history in what was Clark’s first season as skipper and a busy winter recruitment drive has seen the villagers further strengthen their squad.

Clark, pictured, said: “We had a meeting last week and a few people were saying that maybe a good aim would be to stay in this division, but I think that if you aim high, it helps to push you on towards that.

“If you aim to just avoid relegation, then you’ll probably be facing a bit of a fight so we’ll look above that and push on.

“We’re really looking forward to the new season. There has been a lot said previously about the league above where we were (Glos/Wilts) not being that much better and now we’ll get to see whether that is the case.”

Wiltshire ace Clark will lead a squad that has only lost the services of wicketkeeper Tom Cullen to Westbury.

Cardiff UCCE gloveman James Hendrickson will replace him behind the stumps while the services of Sri Lankan overseas player Sahan Wijerathne have also been retained for the next three years.

“We’re really pleased for him, added Clark. “He really enjoys it at the club and he also does a lot of coaching work with our age groups.’’

Ed Young, released by Gloucestershire last year, will also add considerable experience.

Clark added: “The whole club is buzzing. To be at Premier level, which is where we wanted to be, things couldn’t have gone any better.’’

Villagers get real lift from Kilbee comeback

GOATACRE captain Brad Dawson believes the villagers have received a massive boost courtesy of the return of Ed Kilbee to the club for 2014.

Kilbee moved to Cannock in the Birmingham League for the second half of the 2013 campaign, tempted by a lucrative pay-as-you-score offer, but is back with Goatacre this year as they prepare for another assault on West of England Premier League Premier Two.

After a summer accumulating runs in grade one and grade two cricket Down Under, where the left-hander played for Subiaco Floreat in Perth, where he averaged 37 in 17 innings with a top score of 72, Dawson is expecting Kilbee to shine for Goatacre over the coming weeks.

“Kilbee’s back, which is massive for us. It’s crazy how it works because we won every game without him last year. I think it just clicked and happened but he’s back, which is good.

“He’s had a good time in Australia. He’s played first and second grade, which is really good.

“He’s looking to do the county stuff again and he’s switched on again for Wiltshire. I think he could do quite well again.

“Hopefully he stays with us for the summer because it obviously makes a massive difference.

“He said he likes playing with his mates as well, which is good.

“He said the standard at Cannock was up there and most teams would have a pro or overseas who were decent but I think he’s going to enjoy it with us.”

Veterans Kevin Iles and Craig Gibbens return for yet another season, while Giorgio Rigali returned from Australia last week. Goatacre got to Potterne on Saturday.

Goatacre would like to here from anyone who would be interested in scoring for any of the teams (experience required for first team, but not the other teams) or umpiring for the club’s second team.

The junior section has also started practice for the season, and new or returning members are welcome to attend on Mondays between 6.30 and 8pm.

Anyone interested or seeking further information can contact Sam Parish on 0797 986 2438.