Dunks ‘buck the trend’ and look to a bright future

PUBLISHED: 09:00 26 September 2018

At a time when grass roots football, in particular with regard to village clubs, is going through a period of struggle, it’s always heartening to hear of clubs ‘bucking the trend’.

One such club is East Devon-based Dunkeswell Rovers who, after a summer during which it looked for some time as if the club might close, looks now to have had a major revival and, in their most recent match, they struck a resounding 8-2 ‘home’ success over Culm United.

We say ‘home’ because the team is actually playing their home matches this season at neighbouring Hemyock, which was the venue for the side’s latest win in their Macron Devon and Exeter League Division Five outing.

The ‘Dunks’ are this season being managed by two people: Sid Berry (who was a regular in the side over the past few years in a team run so well by Rod Hill, who ended his association with the club at the end of last season) and Brian Cann (a resident of Dunkeswell for some 25 years and who, as a player, made over 600 Western League appearances).

Brian and Sid were in the dugout at Hemyock to watch their charges take on Culm United and they saw their side race into a four goal lead before going on to win 8-2.

Josh Cann – son of Brian – scored a hat-trick from a right wing berth and the other goals were scored by Ben Kidson, Dan Stapleton, Jacob White an own goal and one from 16-year-old Joby Mabbutt, who has as an uncle a legend of the professional game – former Tottenham and England star Gary Mabbutt.

Brian Cann, speaking first about the club’s renaissance, said: “Football club secretary Rob Williams deserves so much praise. I had always said my footballing days were done and certainly I did not fancy getting soaked on a Saturday afternoon watching a team from the sidelines, but when the club came calling I had a rethink and have to say that this last Saturday I most certainly took a touchline soaking, but it was an absolute pleasure to be stood there while also working with a bunch of lads who are so keen to listen to what is expected of them.”

He continued: “We played some great football and young Joby [Mabbutt] was central to most of the action. He has something about him and is a joy to see playing. Sid [Berry] and myself seem to have managed to get together a tidy bunch of players. We have 70 per cent of last year’s Dunkeswell team and have added the likes of Reece Andrews, Ben Kidson, Sam Farmer, Max McKewan and Jacob White, to name but five, and they are all gelling well and, perhaps more importantly, all clearly buying into what we are asking of them on a matchday.”

Saturday’s win over Culm is a fitting on-field success to stand toe to toe with what is going on off the pitch. The club is set to return to Dunkeswell to play home matches on a new pitch that should be ready for the start of next season and there’s plenty of local business that has already got behind the club and provided much-needed sponsorship support.

Brian says: “We are very grateful to the support we have been afforded by the likes of Highfield Stores and Perry of Oakley – the latter who have provided us with the polo tops that help with the feeling of togetherness as a group on match days. There’s certainly a ‘feel good factor’ within the club at the moment and matchdays could not come quick enough.”

Next up for the Dunks is Saturday’s (September 29) league game at Exeter-based Central (3pm).

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