Exmouth Town number two: We have to make sure we do things in line with all the Covid-19 guidance

PUBLISHED: 17:08 28 July 2020

Exmouth Town at home to Barnstaple in a FA Cup game. Ref exsp 33 19TI 0148. Picture: Terry Ife

Exmouth Town at home to Barnstaple in a FA Cup game. Ref exsp 33 19TI 0148. Picture: Terry Ife


Exmouth Town players report back for pre-season for the first-time tonight (Tuesday), writes Steve Birley.

However, with other local teams in the ‘fast lane’ with regard to sorting out pre-season friendlies, Town are being far more cautious as assistant manager Andy Rawlings explained when he said: “We are aware of plenty of teams organising pre-season friendlies and looking to pack them in from August 1, but the way we read the current pandemic guidance is that things really are nowhere near ‘back to normal’ and so this forthcoming 20/21 campaign and indeed the pre-season, is going to be like no other pre-season we have known.

“From what I gather about other clubs and their pre-season planning it seems some clubs are simply not adhering to the guidance in as much, as we understand it, using dressing rooms remains a no, and, as for playing a pre-season friendly, it looks, as things stand, as if that is going to have to be ‘behind closed doors’.”

The Town number two continued: “Look, we’d love to have pre-season games pencilled in two a week from this weekend through until early September, but its neither practical nor, as we are led to believe, safe, to do so.

“The last I heard or read on the pandemic is that it has certainly not ‘gone away’ and I fancy one or two might be getting carried away with just what we can do with regard to our clubs and getting things back moving again.

“For our part we will train for the first time tonight and the Town Reserves will do likewise on Thursday night.

“All sessions we run will be in accordance with all the guidelines and advice regarding Covid-19 because above all else, we are very clear that the safety of our players, officials an supporters is paramount and, as much as we’d love to be booking in big game friendlies, it’s simply not going to happen until we get the green light to do so from the football authorities.”

Town have provisionally pencilled in pre-season meetings with Tiverton Town, Taunton Town, Alphington and Sidmouth Town and all can be put in place at short notice, but, as the Town number two says, the problem for the Southern Road men is the great support they have.

Rawlings says: “Look, we have such great support and so it would be cruel for us to make public a game that we intended to play and then have to turn supporters away because of a rule that says 30 only to watch or similar.

“As far as we are led to believe, no one has yet said we can open our ground and run what we would all know as a ‘normal matchday operation’, sadly that looks to be some way off and so, for now, we are going to tread the party line and ensure that we do everything by the book.”

Turning his attention to any player movement, the Town number two said: “The other day I was at the club and a supporter came up to me and asked what we were doing about any new signings. I was quick with my response which was that if we fielded our top eleven from last season, and all were fighting fit and able to play on a consistent basis, who would that supporter look to change – and he looked me in the eye and said no one! That’s very much where we are as a team and a squad.

“To strengthen our very best eleven means bringing in additional quality that would, in effect, not make the starting eleven.

“Yes, we could, indeed can, bring I players to press those already with the shirts to make it competitive in training, but we really are very fortunate at Town in that Kev (Town boss Kevin Hill) has put together a squad that really is ‘up there with the best at our level’.

“Now what we need is to avoid injury and look to make a good start – whenever that start of a new season might be.”

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