Cornish clubs should not be sorry, Seagulls boss insists

Cornish clubs should not be sorry, Seagulls boss insists

Mousehole will be making their debut in step 5 of the English national league system next season. Photo Paul Williams

23rd June 2021

By Tom Howe

Ahead of their maiden campaign at step five, Mousehole manager Jake Ash says Cornish clubs shouldn’t ‘feel too sorry’ for their progression into Western League football.

The league, which historically featured the likes of Falmouth Town, Liskeard Athletic and Saltash United, has predominately been made up of clubs from Bristol, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire in recent years.

But the modern-day league is set to reflect days gone by, with the promotion of three Devon clubs, Buckland Athletic, Plymouth Parkway and Tavistock, preceding the entry of a Cornish quartet of Mousehole, Helston Athletic, Millbrook and Saltash next term.

The addition of Cornwall’s representatives has caused plenty of discussion with clubs like Bitton, Odd Down and Shepton Mallet faced with increased travelling, while the manager of Bridport has suggested trips into Cornwall could hinder recruitment.

Ash said clubs like Mousehole shouldn’t be ostracised for their ambition, telling the Voice: “I can see it from their point of view and can see how, as a sell, it is going to be difficult.

Their players aren’t used to [travelling into Cornwall] and they can play for lots of other clubs on their doorstep where they wouldn’t have to.

Ultimately, that is not our fault. It is called the Western League and progression from step six, if Cornish clubs want to go anywhere, is to go into that league.

“I don’t think we should feel too sorry. If clubs are ambitious, this is what we have to do. Seventy-five per cent of our squad are from Penzance, St Ives and that area so it is going to be a long day for them. The away games are a day away on the bus with your mates, having a good time, playing a bit of football and hopefully getting three points and having a beer on the way home. That doesn’t sound like the worst way to spend a Saturday.

“[Cornish clubs] have got to do that every other week. The others have to do it four or five times. I can understand that it might not be hugely appealing but I know from my time at Truro, when I spoke to teams that came down, they used to enjoy it and make a night out of it. Our home record at Truro was probably worse than our away record because teams used to come to make a weekend of it and want to win so the night out was a bit more enjoyable.

“We will see. It is definitely going to take a bit of adjusting to. Mousehole is geographically such an extreme and will get some tongues wagging for a little while but this is the right step and direction that the club have to go in if they want to progress.

“Other teams will just have to have a nice day on the bus and a beer on the way home.”

The Seagulls are now a week into pre-season preparations and, with their Premier Division campaign set to kick-off on July 31, have already boosted their squad with the addition of the attacking Callam McOnie and versatile Kyle Fraser, who arrive from Newquay and Porthleven respectively.

Their summer programme takes them to Porthleven on July 3 and St Blazey on July 6, before three home games against i2i Soccer Academy (July 9), Plymouth Parkway (July 17) and Exeter City of League Two (July 21).

A friendly at Southern League side Larkhall Athletic completes the set on July 24, a week before Mousehole's first competitive action.

Ash continued: “When the last lockdown happened, we had a chat with the boys and asked them what they wanted to do. For their mental wellbeing, as much as anything, the lads wanted to get back and do a little bit even if we didn’t have any games or anything to work towards.”