ACCRINGTON Stanley's first summer signing Andy Tretton is hoping to forget play-off heartbreak and help the Reds go straight up into the Football League next season.
The former Hereford centre half has missed out on promotion back to the league twice with the Bulls after losing to Aldershot in 2003 and Stevenage this year in the Conference play-off semi-finals.
"It is hard as the play-offs are such a lottery," said the 28-year-old former Derby and Shrewsbury defender who has signed a two-year deal at Stanley after being released from Edgar Street.
"The Conference is getting stronger but Accrington are a good side and hopefully we can have a good season and will make a strong challenge.
"I played against Accrington last season and they are strong with a lot of quality. I think everyone at Hereford expected Accrington to be in the play-offs last season and expected to play them and were surprised when they fell away.
"But I know they are going for automatic promotion this season and I was impressed with what the manager and the chairman had to say."
He knows the chase for the Conference title will be even tougher this season but he hopes his addition will help the Reds make the step up.
"The Conference is getting stronger all the time as the league clubs are trimming their squads and the players are filtering down into the Conference," said the England National XI player.
"But I think the secret in the Conference is consistency and I know Accrington are striving to be more consistent.
"I know they did well against teams in the top eight or ten last season but then lost to the so-called lower teams. These are the games when sometimes you have to concentrate more so hopefully we will be able to get that consistency this season."
He admitted that striker David Brown, who moved from the Bulls to Stanley in March, had an influence on his move to the Interlink.
"I know Browny well and obviously I spoke to him," he said. "He used to stay at my house when we were at Hereford and he only had good things to say about the club. He is a good judge of character so I trust his judgement.
"I obviously know plenty about Accrington - they have a lot of history and had a lot of success over the last few years in coming up to the Conference and have done well. "I know Hereford haven't had much joy when they have played Accrington in the league.
"But now I am really excited about getting started, meeting the lads, playing in pre-season and hopefully I will get into the first team."
Tretton, who won 19 of the 22 league games he played for the Bulls last season although an ankle injury kept him out for three months, will be battling with Mike Flynn and Robbie Williams for the centre half spots.
Manager John Coleman said: "I have admired Andy for a while and I think he will give us experience we need at the back and should do well."
The manager admitted he hopes to add another face "by next week" - possibly a midfielder - and he said he has a few possibilities for the striker and left back positions he has been aiming to fill.
Meanwhile, Coleman has missed out on goalkeeper Craig Dootson who has signed for Coca Cola League Two side Bury. Coleman has been chasing the 25-year-old for a number of years and almost signed him last year.
Coleman expressed his interest but Bury came in for Stalybridge Celtic's highly-rated Player of the Year.
"That was a bit of a blow," admitted Coleman. "But we are looking at another goalkeeper now."
He admitted nothing was further forward with striker Lee McEvilly following the interest from a Coca Cola League Two side.
"Nothing has happened. We are waiting for them to get back to us," said the manager.
And he has still to have talks with winger Rory Prendergast, who has another year on his contract but has been arousing interest from other clubs. "He is still under contract so, unless someone comes in for him, he will be here next season," added Coleman.
NORTHWICH Victoria have launched an appeal after their expulsion from the Conference. The Vics were relegated for not meeting FA deadlines over the transfer of their Conference membership to the club's new owners. They, along with Forest Green who would earn a reprieve, will learn their fate when the make-up of the new divisions is finalised at the Conference's AGM.
EX-Red defender Stuart Howson has signed for Lancaster City after leaving Droylsden.