Honiton Building for Long-Term Success

PUBLISHED: 07:22 11 November 2020

Action from the Honiton Town 2-1 defeat to Elmore. Picture; ANDREW SYMONDS

Action from the Honiton Town 2-1 defeat to Elmore. Picture; ANDREW SYMONDS

© Andrew Symonds

Honiton Looking for Long-Term Success

The immediate satisfaction of three points on a Saturday afternoon will not always be the major priority for Honiton Town at the start of a long-term project for success.

New manager Liam Raybould has agreed on a template for future stability at Honiton and that will naturally take time.

While those building blocks take a while to assemble, the Raybould approach is both pragmatic and enjoyable.

“The planning is not just for the next few weeks, or even the rest of the season, it’s about setting a platform for long-term success,” said Raybould.

“We’re trying to get players and sponsors in place for the future. The chairman, Roger Doble, and I have the same vision for the club and we want to try and break into the top six.

“You need a structure within the club to do that, a blend of youth and experience. We’ve got a two-year project to see where we can take Honiton Town and Roger has given me his confidence to build a good team.

“It is very refreshing for a manager and we are working hard to build a good atmosphere around the club.

“In terms of performances on the pitch, I like to think of myself as a practical manager. Some games are more physical and you have to be ready for that, and others allow you to get the ball down and play.

“My primary philosophy is for the players to enjoy competing for Honiton Town. We all want to win games and have a good time, on and off the pitch. Football is also a contact sport and you have to stand up to sides like Brixham and Ilfracombe, or you’ll get nothing from the game.”

In the immediate term, Raybould started life as Hippos’ boss with a tough 6-3 defeat at Bovey Tracey and then an unfortunate 1-0 loss at Torpoint Athletic.

The fixture computer had certainly not been kind to Raybould but his first game at home, although managed from a distance, ended in a record-breaking 17-2 destruction of lowly Stoke Gabriel.

“It was certainly a baptism of fire at Bovey Tracey, both teams intent on attacking, and they scored six goals to our three in reply,” said Raybould. “Bovey is a tough place to go, they’ve signed some good players and a lot of the quality they had last season has returned.

“Things didn’t get much easier, as we then went to Torpoint Athletic, another good side. We were under pressure for a lot of the game and they just pinched it with one goal.

“I wasn’t actually able to attend my first home game, as it was my son’s birthday, so I was sort of helping out through my phone. I think 17-2 is the biggest win in the history of the league.”

While the victory was very satisfying for Honiton and a big help to the goal difference, Raybould is understandably dubious of the notoriety Stoke Gabriel have received for their ignominious start to the season.

Stoke have conceded a painful 187 goals in their opening 15 fixtures and that has led to national coverage for the South Devon outfit.

“A lot of teams have been putting double figures past Stoke and very strange for a club that won the league a couple of years ago,” said Raybould. “What I don’t understand is that they are getting so much coverage for losing heavily.

“They were on TalkSport the other day and I believe there is a fund being set up to support them financially. It’s not a great promotion for Devon football and strange that Stoke are getting money for losing 15-0.”

Thankfully, the short and long-term future for Honiton Town looks a lot brighter. They will emerge from lockdown with hopes of moving into the mid-table area of the South-West Peninsula League and then set targets for even more success.

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