Ahead of the Toolstation Western League campaign kicking off this weekend, we spoke to Dean Cardew (first team manager), Luke Gibbons (football co-ordinator) and Bill Booth (chairman) to share their thoughts on last season, the off-season and looking ahead to the coming season.
After last season's 12th place finish in our debut season at step 5, it was going to be a summer of recruitment to try an improve on that this time out. Dean had this to say ahead of the season;
"While I can’t believe the season is upon us again already, I’m really excited to get going and see how this new look squad competes this season. It’s been a completely different pre season this year compared to last year. We’ve had a lot more time to prepare and the sessions that Ficey has put on have been first class.
We’ve lost some very big characters in the summer, either to other clubs or retirement, players who have served the club for years and who will go down in history for the success they had here, so the job of replacing them has been extremely difficult. However, what we’ve managed to do is bring in players that I have been trying to sign for a few years now, so that’s positive. With the amount of new players coming in, the priority through pre-season has been to try and get them to gel as quickly as possible and I don’t think we could have done a lot more in the time we’ve had.
Hopefully we can start the season positively, get some points on the board quicker than we were able to do last season and kick on from there."
The off season has been a very busy period for Luke Gibbons, football co-ordinator, since there has been a lot of movement in the management teams through the club this season. Unfortunately, this close season saw the demise of our fourth team which has been a great stepping stone for players coming from youth into mens football since the introduction of the side in 2017. Luke had this to say on the upcoming season;
"Last season was one for learning across our sides. With our maiden voyage into the Western League, we finished in a respectable position after building into the season and finishing strong. Whilst we’ve lost some members of that group, Dean and Ryan have built brilliantly this summer with some major signings which will see us become even more competitive. There seems to be a real buzz around the group and while pre-season results have been encouraging, the training sessions have been where the true “hard miles” have been put in by the players. I’m excited by the prospect of welcoming Nailsea & Tickenham to The Mill for our season opener.
With our Reserves, we highlighted the need to secure a new management structure to provide clear direction for the group. After managing the side alongside Vice-Chair, Ian Stephens, we knew there was a good base to build from if the right personnel were brought in. Callum, Steve and Bruce have done that in the off-season with more players pushing for that jump to the Western League when the opportunity arises. I certainly see this group progressing this season.
Our 3rd team see themselves in a new League, by name anyway, and under new management. The search post Callum’s promotion was always going to be difficult and we will always search for a manager that holds the Club’s core values at heart. After internal discussions, Ian Stephens, John Doherty and I will oversee the side as we continue to bring through talented youngsters in the local area, alongside the right mix of experience. We’re delighted that a handful of players have been training with the Reserves pre-season and that is the true gauge of success for the team. I’m sure we will see more knocking on the door over the season and be fully ready for the step come this time next season.
Finally, I wish our Youth and Junior wings all the success for the coming season. We saw sides promoted and reaching Cup Finals last season which is a true testament to their development and love of the game, a big thank you to their coaches who put so much time in on and off of the field to ensure that fixtures can be played in a fun and friendly environment. I look forward to getting to as many games as possible this season."
As with any off-season, many, many things have been done behind the scenes ahead of the new season and that is testament to chairman, Bill Booth's commitment to the cause by driving for constant improvement. Here's what he had to say ahead of kick-off this weekend;
"Another season approaches and the sense of anticipation is tangible in the air at The Mill, as is the smell of fresh paint! There has been lots of work invested in and around the ground over the close season, which is ongoing with the changing rooms currently getting a makeover, but as you read from the updates from Dean and Luke there has been lots of change on the football front as well.
Having worked really hard to consolidate themselves in the TWL the 1st team squad has had a revamp. It is true to say we have seen some stalwarts move on and retire, and we wish them all well, but the quality that Dean has brought in is really exciting and Dean, Ficey and the boys are eager to get going and feeling confident they can push on from the foundations built last season.
Both of the St Piran teams have seen changes in management, as described by Luke, and both squads have seen some churn but there is definitely a confident vibrancy to both groups that bodes well for the coming season. There is also lots of young talent on show and a desire to work collectively across the squads for the greater good of Torpoint AFC.
The Youth and Junior wings continue to flourish and we are constantly working to get more cohesion across the three wings of the club.
The committee, staff, management, coaches and players all work hard to make Torpoint AFC a proper football club that sits at the hub of the local Community. Please get involved and come along and get behind the teams at all levels, we cannot do it without your support!"