Brixington Blues continue to go from strength to strength providing football for local youngsters
PUBLISHED: 12:37 06 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:37 06 May 2020
The 2019-2020 football season will be remembered because of COVID -19 bringing football matches to a stop.
Irrespective of that there were a lot of postponements due to wet weather and waterlogged pitches.
To underline just how tough the season had been ‘before’ the premature ending of the campaign by the Coronavirus pandemic, as at March 21, the Blues’ Under-11s had played only seven league matches and still had nine to play as well as still being in the League Cup!
Many of the Blues’ other age group teams were in a similar situation.
Blues’ chairman Richard Taylor says: “I have not been able to see many games this past season as my main role, each Saturday morning, has been to be the ‘car park attendant at the Withycombe Raleigh Common (WRC) pitches.
“Indeed, so time consuming have been those duties that I think I have managed to watch only two matches from start to finish.
“Organised parking of cars up there is critical. Whilst there are five pitches, two adult size, one intermediate and two mini-football size, it is not possible to accommodate any more than three matches at any one time due the size of the car park.
“I really must say a huge thank you to all those parents who have responded positively to my request for car sharing. It makes a huge difference.
“There could be good news on the horizon. The Club has put in an application for Section 106 funding to extend the car park to provide significantly more parking space.
“In summer 2019 a robot was installed to cut the grass and it does the job very well.
“Without a regular groundsman, WRC is now a ‘turn-up-and-play’ facility. This proved to be workable, but I did miss a cup a tea from Dave Woodley (the previous groundsman at the facility).”
During the past season, Brixington Blues fielded teams from Under-7 through to Under-16 as well as an ‘inclusive’ group. All teams have received weekly coaching on the artificial surface at Exmouth Community College.
The club also provide weekly goalkeeper training from a qualified goalkeeping coach.
Taylor says: “Our inclusive group have coaching sessions in the sports hall at the Exmouth Community College on Monday evenings during the football season.
“Coaching is provided by our excellent qualified FA coaches and assistants. The emphasis is on ball control, ball skills and passing.
“All players receive the same coaching so that they are capable of playing in any position. We encourage players to play out from the back at all times and to pass to feet and quickly react if possession is lost.
“All of our teams have progressed strongly during the season and been very successful in matches played. Matches are not supposed to be competitive; results are not recorded and there are no league tables. But in reality, the matches can be very competitive and goals will be celebrated. In fact, these matches are very good to watch and the players show remarkable ability for their age.”
He continued: “The U9s, U10s and U11s do take part in the knock out cup competitions and these are officially competitive matches. The U9s did very well this season and they were due to contest a cup quarter-final before the season came to a halt with the Coronavirus crisis.”
One of the most successful of the younger Blues teams in recent times have been this season’s Under-11s who are managed by Gavin Dawkins and they also had a last eight KO Cup place in the bag – this for a team that had been cup finalists in each of the past two years!
The Blues’ chairman added: “Coronavirus not only brought to an end to our team’s cup progress, but also put paid to the U8s Easter trip to Barcelona where they were due to play in a football tournament.
“It would have been a fantastic experience for everyone involved and now they are left trying to recover their costs. Hopefully they will not be put off arranging another trip.”
Looking around the other Blues’ teams; at the time of the season ending early, the Under-12s were lying sixth in Division One and had booked a berth in the U12 Plate competition.
The Under-14s also sat sixth in Division One and this team look set to enjoy similar success next season as an Under-15 team.
The Blues Under-15s have consistently been a top-three side through the age groups from U12 to U15.
This season they sat third and had a Cup last eight spot in the bag.
In September they will be in the U16s league. It will be another tough season with no easy matches but with some new signings and with their strong management driving them on they will be pushing to win the league.
Last August there were concerns that the Under 16s would not have enough players. Then suddenly they had a squad of 23 players and lots of parental assistance. Once they got to know each other they became a talented group of players and good results followed. Then later in January as match after match was postponed due to pitch conditions enthusiasm drained and in March with GCSE revision classes taking place on Saturday mornings there were not enough players left!
Taylor says: “We thank Darren Kenny for all his hard work and endurance with the U16s, a set of players he has looked dafter for the past three years.”
He continued: “We expect to have, four Division1 teams representing the Club in September.”
Rounding things off, the Blues’ chairman said: “As a club we are very fortunate to have brilliant group of qualified coaches and assistants that are backed by an excellent management team.
“The best that there has been during my years with the club.
“If anyone is interested in playing for Brixington Blues our club secretary Emma McBryan on 07796 304057, is the person to contact.
“We remain hopeful of being able to stage the 2020 Presentation event at Withycombe RFC for Sunday, June 14, but that does of course, depend on whether the government will be allowing such events to take place.”
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