10 reasons to see the return of the #bitored
Sligo Rovers are back - the Bit o' Red begin their SSE Airtricity League campaign against Athlone Town on Saturday night.
So what's new in 2014? What do we hope to achieve and who is going to be the inspiration for the Red Army this season.
Countdown with us as we explain 10 reasons to see the new-look Sligo Rovers on Saturday.
10 - Sligo Rovers won 10 of our 16 home games played in 2013 which was the most in the league. Goalkeeper Gary Rogers broke all kinds of record including longest time without conceding a goal. Rovers are unbeaten in Sligo since last July's Champions League qualifier against Molde.
9 - Our new number 9 for the season will be loan signing from West Ham Sean Maguire. He joins a host of other attacking option which include Danny North, Raf Cretaro, Aaron Greene, Kieran Djilali and another new addition Eric Odhiambo. With North suspended this Saturday, manager Ian Baraclough has said he has no fear giving Maguire the chance to lead the line. He said: "Sean has shown he is more than capable of starting on Saturday night. He is fit and ready if we choose to select him."
8 - The number of additional minutes played in last season’s FAI Cup final. In that time Drogheda equalised only for Rovers to snatch a winner straight after to claim a third FAI Cup in four years in dramatic fashion. It was breathless, it was exhilerating, it was everything Sligo Rovers can be to thousands of supporters and we want all that excitement on Saturday.
7 - In total the Bit o’Red have added seven new faces to the squad for the upcoming season. They are the returning keeper Richard Brush and mid-fielder John Russell. Strengthening the defence is Kalen Spillane a centre back from Cork City and full-back Danny Ledwith from Shamrock Rovers. Scorer for Drogheda in last year’s FAI Cup final Paul O’Conor joins in midfield along with forwards Eric Odhiambo from Hereford and West Ham loanee Sean Maguire.
6 - Ballina midfielder David Cawley scored a career best six goals in the league last year making him one of the club’s most reliable goalscorers. He has been one of standout performers in pre-season and including last Sunday's President's Cup match with St Pat's. See if Cawley can shine again on Saturday.
5 - Jospeh Ndo will begin a fifth year with Rovers with five major trophies already won with three FAI Cups, one league title and one EA Sports Cup. Last weekend he moved to 300 career appearance since moving to the League of Ireland. Five years with the #bitored, always believe in Ndo.
4 - Rovers will be aiming to win the league title this year for the first time in our history. It was most recently won in 2012 having been previously champions in 1937/37 and 1976/77. "Our number one priority is to bring that league trophy back to Sligo," said new signing Paul O'Conor. Help us achieve our ambition of number four.
3 - This will be manager Ian Baraclough’s third campaign at the helm. He is the only manager in the club’s history to have won both the League and FAI Cup for the club as well as the only man to deliver a trophy in his first two seasons. A leader and a winner.
2 - Sligo Rovers legend Raffaele Cretaro sits second on our all-time leading appearances list with 395 appearances. Could he also go second on the all-time leading goalscorers list this year? He needs another 14 to do so. We tweeted the fact on Thursday and Cretaro's attaching colleague Danny North responded, "he'll get that, full faith in the Tubbercurry Tornado". So do we.
1 - There is only one place to see all this action, drama, excitement, goals and joy this season and that is The Showgrounds. Be there on match nights starting with today’s game against Athlone Town.