Hippos hoping that 2019 brings better things

PUBLISHED: 10:28 26 December 2018

Archant

Honiton Town boss Kev Blackwell is preparing his team for their final game of 2018, Saturday’s (December 29) trip to St Martins.

It’s been a year of much change for the Hippos, who started the year fighting what turned out to be a successful battle, against a basement finish in the South West Peninsula League Eastern Division – they ended the campaign fourth from bottom, eight points clear of basement side Liverton United.

This season, with Kev Blackwell back at the helm, it’s been one of gradual improvement for the team and they went to Axminster Town on Boxing Day morning sitting 12th, having won six of their 18 league outings so far this campaign.

We caught up with Hippos boss Kev Blackwell before the Christmas festivities got into full swing and first we asked him what his highlight of 2018 has been.

The Town boss replied: “For me, the highlight has simply been being part of things again at the club. I really am extremely proud to call myself ‘manager of my home town club’.

“The highlight on the pitch still has to be that very first game against Elmore, we lost 1-0, but it confirmed to both Nick [the Town assistant boss Nick Ogden] and myself what we believed - that this side deserves to be in this league and that we aren’t out of place competing in it.”

He continued: “Yes, of course, we are ‘punching above our weight’ in a league where our local rivals are able to attract players with their budgets and that does cause us issues, but our strength is having a team that comprises predominantly of locally-based lads, that all genuinely want to play for Honiton Town Football Club.”

On the flip side of the positivity that the Town boss exudes, he does make a good point when he says: “However, if there’s one matter that has been a bug bear, particularly this season, then it is the fact that much of pre-match team planning has become one of thinking about who I can draft in as opposed to the ideal scenario of worrying about who I have to leave out, owing to good availability!”

He continued: “That’s a shame, because as we showed against a then table-topping and unbeaten Elmore, we can, on our day, with our best side out, be a match for anyone at this level!”

So, what, if anything, would the Town boss like to see improved as the club moves through 2019? He replies: “In two words, improved availability. That’s the key. We do have a number of seriously committed lads who deserve to be part of a successful football team and if we can make a significant improvement in our availability across the playing divide, then we have a tremendous opportunity before us to make our mark at this level.”

He continued: “The club chairman, quite rightly, has put targets in front of us to achieve, but to give us the best chance of that, we need to be able to pick from our full pool of players on a regular basis.”

Read an extended interview with the Town boss now at www.midweekherald.co.uk

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