Fareham have been tipped to continue their impressive growth after landing Ben Barnes as their new performance director.
The decorated former England international has agreed to a far-reaching role at the National Hockey League conference west club.
Barnes’ appointment represents a coup for the outfit who are targeting continuing the rapid development they have achieved in recent years.
Fareham have also appointed Steve Lemon as the first-team’s new head coach, with Nigel Cook moving into a head of recruitment position.
Lemon believes Barnes’ arrival means Fareham will continue to make exciting progress.
He said: ‘He is an England international and has won the Premier League as a coach and player.
‘It’s big news and is certainly a coup.
‘He approached us and said he was interested in getting involved.
‘It wasn’t that tough a decision to make to get him on board once that happened.
‘Ben will have a club role which includes looking at the first XI.
‘But he will look at juniors and ladies, too – and how we can improve there.
‘We are rebuilding. We had a five-year plan and got the first team into the national league.
‘Now we have a new ground and have taken the decision to get Ben on board and push forward again.
‘You can’t stand still, we want to improve all around the club.
‘It’s a whole club evolution and we want to move forward.
‘It won’t happen overnight, but Ben is here for the long term and not a quick fix.
‘We have to get the structure right through the whole club.’
Fareham have also strengthened their squad by bringing in Australian forward Paul Nicholls.
He will add experience and quality to a team who picked up a 5-1 friendly win over St Albans and a narrow 3-2 defeat to premier division new-boys Wimbledon in warm-up games.
Lemon is looking for the first team to avoid any dalliances with the drop zone when the season gets under way next month.
And the coach even had a light-hearted jibe for local rivals Havant.
‘I think we’ll be looking for the top half of the table.
‘And we’ll be looking to stay away from the relegation places we seem to have been around for the last couple of seasons.
‘It’s not going to happen overnight, but we want to establish ourselves by Christmas and then see where we are from there.
‘We have an Australian lad coming over, too, called Paul Nicholls.
‘He has previously played for Old Loughtonians in the premier division and has a good pedigree.
‘Hopefully he will have a massive impact, but he will bring in experience.
‘Any addition to the squad is great, but to have someone like Paul is brilliant.
‘The boys are working hard and things are looking good.
‘The club as a whole is a nice place to be at the moment, because we are on the up.
‘And it will be good to cement our position as the number one club in Hampshire!’