Axminster Town boss: “We’ve made mistakes and we will learn from them.”

PUBLISHED: 10:15 09 April 2020

Action from the October meeting between Axminster Town and Torridgeside. Picture ANDREW GRAHAM

Action from the October meeting between Axminster Town and Torridgeside. Picture ANDREW GRAHAM

Andrew Graham

Axminster Town boss Josh Stunell feels that, certainly at the level Town are now playing at, there was no other option other than to bring the season to a halt in light of the Covid-19 crisis.

He says: “I do think it’s one of those ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ moments. At the top level of our game, of course, it’s all driven by money, and that’s the reason they are all ‘hanging on’.

“As we saw in rugby’s case, they made a decision and have moved on in terms of ending their season, but, to put in into perspective, the rugby campaign was in the home straight and there were no clubs, to the best of my knowledge, with the sort of fixture lists some of our football teams had with as many as 14, 15 and even 16 games still to be negotiated!”

He continued: “What else could the football authorities do at our level. As for the seasons results being expunged, while it will be of distress to some – and I do feel for the likes of Ilfracombe Town and, further afield, Helston, clubs who have invested to make the step up and effectively terminating the season without promotion and relegation plays against their hopes and dreams. For us at Tiger Way, we can take so many positives from the campaign, regardless of there being ‘no conclusion’ to it.

“We made mistakes along the way and we will learn from them and I really do feel that we can put what we have learnt this season into a plan of action that, if it all comes to fruition, will see us amongst the top six sides in the South West Peninsula League Premier East next season.”

The Tigers boss is clear ‘what did not work’ in the season now ended.

He explained saying: “In hindsight we brought in a number of players who, on paper might have been playing at a higher level and we figured they’d find it a breeze at step six, but, for various reasons, that was not to be the case. Indeed, I do think one or two possibly ‘got found out’ and we’ll need to be mindful of that as and when we recruit for next season.”

On the plus side, Stunell says: “We have a young squad and, if we can keep them together – and the early indications are that they do all want to stick around, and perhaps add one or two additional pieces of quality then I think we can hit the ground running next season.”

We asked the Tigers boss what needed to happen for Town to be where he wanted them to be next season.

He responded saying: “We will head into next season with the same targets as we had when this recent campaign began in as much as we want to finish as high as we can.

“We need to be mindful of just where we came unstuck this past season. One classic area of problems for us was the seven or eight week run we had early on in the campaign with a regular sequence of Saturday/Wednesday/Saturday and we need to be ready for that again, possibly with a bigger squad because, where we got hurt in that period of games coming thick and fast, was that we picked up injuries and did not have the cover we needed to allow us continuity of quality performance.”

The Tigers boss rounded things off saying: “No, for me this past season has bene anything but ‘a waste of time’. As I have already said, I feel sorry for those clubs that were heading towards honours, but there are also clubs who will no doubt have felt they have ‘benefited’ from this early end with no up’s and down’s to be factored in. For there here and now it’s clearly all about all of us staying safe and making sure that when the green light is given for a new season to begin that we, at Axminster Town, are in the best shape possible to take the club off on another exciting journey.”

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