Honiton Town boss speaks about Appledore withdrawal, the coming league changes, the Town fixtures and more...

PUBLISHED: 11:37 21 December 2018

Honiton Town away at Budleigh with manager Kev Blackwell (right) and assistant Nick Ogden watching their team from the technical area. Ref mhsp 43 18TI 3409. Picture: Terry Ife

Honiton Town away at Budleigh with manager Kev Blackwell (right) and assistant Nick Ogden watching their team from the technical area. Ref mhsp 43 18TI 3409. Picture: Terry Ife

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Honiton Town boss Kev Blackwell is preparing his team for the Boxing Day game at Axminster Town, and here he tells us his views on the Appledore loss to the South West Peninsula League, the coming changes to local football, the Honiton Town fixtures and more...

The South West Peninsula League (SWP League) Eastern Division has been reduced to 18 teams following the withdrawal from the league of Appledore.

The North Devon side advised the SWP League of their decision during the week and it means all those teams who ‘won’ points against them, have had them taken away and a new table has been published by the league – see www.swpleague.co.uk for the full table.

Appledore were sitting third bottom having only banked nine points from their 14 games, comprising of two wins and three draws.

Honiton Town have had one of their 11 defeats chalked for as they were beaten 4-1 by Appledore, one of their two wins!

Following the news of the Appledore withdrawal, Honiton Town boss Kev Blackwell said: “It certainly is disappointing to see a team pull out. I know how much hard work goes into running a side getting lads together and turning out on a Saturday so no doubt their decision to withdraw their side from the league will most certainly not have been taken lightly.”

With regard to the forthcoming re-organisation of some levels of football – the SWP League is set to have three divisions next year – one more than this years, East (which four East Devon-based sides – Honiton Town, Axminster Town, Sidmouth Town and Budleigh Salterton play in) and it means a number of teams are likely to apply to step up from the current Macron Devon and Exeter League.

Town boss Kev Blackwell says of the proposed alterations: “With the coming changes

It is a little disappointing in as much as for us to climb to what we considered the next cherished level of the football pyramid (Devon and Exeter League up to SWP League], we did so working very hard to win our way though a tough Premier Division and so, it does not sit too well that other teams will simply ‘step up’ through a sea change of the system. It does tend to feel for us that all our hard work appears to be for nothing!”

He continued: “Yes we want progress and we always do and I am sure the reorganisation is down to football reasons and all of us at Honiton Town will, of course, fully support it.”

Speaking about the fixturing – Town last played a home game in mid-November and will play just two more before early March! The Town boss says: “I have no doubt that who ever the good person is who ‘does’ the fixtures, it must be a logistical nightmare, but the way the fixtures are stacked up after Christmas makes little sense to me when we had games rammed in at the start the season and now, over Christmas when the lads really do want a break.

“That said, I understand that the league is organised for the likes of Honiton town and money talks in this league.

“That’s me speaking as football manager rather than a representative of Honiton town FC, but it does appear so little thought goes into helping us on how we fulfil our fixtures.

“It all does come down to me becoming less of a football manager trying to implement systems formations and get an ethic across, and more of an administrator, trying to get players into a team and fill in the correct form to make sure a fixture is fulfilled.

“At the moment within our club, the players probably have too much power. What we need, as a football club, is for players to be ‘our players’ and not, as many players are – and we, as a club, are certainly not alone with this matter – duel registered so that they can play SWP League football with us and Macron Devon and Exeter League football with a different club, even though we have team splaying in the same Macron League!”

He continued: “There’s no escaping the fact that, in order for us to become stronger fro top to bottom, we need players who commit to Honiton Town – as one club. But, as I have already alluded too, we are not alone with this matter and I don’t doubt that managers up and down the country at this level lament such a situation.”

He concluded: “The answer really is one of us needing to have players sign forms for both league’s, with us. I am truly sorry to bounce that burden of responsibility upon the players – but it is so important to the bigger picture and indeed future well being of our club.”

Town are next in action on Boxing Day when they visit second in the table Axminster Town and, three days later, they travel again, this time to St Martins.

The biggest ‘winners’ of the Appledore demise would appear to be title-chasing Elmore who did drop two points when held by the North Devon side and the only other team that Appledore beat was Brixham, so their position has also been ‘strengthened’.

It means the top six at the head of the table now reads: Stoke Gabriel (39 pts from 16 games); Axminster Town (36 from 18); Elmore (35 from 16); Torridgeside (34 from 15); Bovey Tracey (32 from 13) and Brixham (32 from 15).

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