It has been known for some time that the local football season has been deemed as null and void, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Unfortunate timing for Holsworthy AFC, as they were beginning to hit their stride with a stable squad and were sure to climb the table. Here are the thoughts of manager Liam Dart.
The Magpies were sitting two places above the basement of the South West Peninsula East division before the season was called to a halt. Despite the low position in the league, Dart explained that it wasn’t a true reflection of their season. He said: "Obviously it was the right call to make but we had plenty of fixtures left that were close to us in the table. We still had the likes of Torrington, Dartmouth, Marjon and Elmore to play and we had already played the top teams twice, so we would’ve jumped a few places for sure."
This was to be the debut season for the newly-structured East division after league alterations were made at the end of last year, placing more teams closer geographically. This meant that Holsworthy were to face completely different opposition to previous seasons, where they had predominately played teams in Cornwall.
In the East division they were now up-against Devon-based teams. According to Dart, this alteration in opposition was a shift in the style they were used to. He said: "It was a different standard, less football and more physical than what we were used to.
"Also the pitches in Devon aren’t always as good as those in Cornwall, so that was something different.
"It took some getting used to, but if you compare the result at the start and the end against Torpoint you can see how far we’ve come." Holsworthy lost 8-0 at home to Torpoint in September and then narrowly missed out on a point on March 11, after losing 3-2. Dart reflected on the changes in personnel that were made throughout the season which aided the physical demand. He added: "We have a lot better squad now than at the start of the season and it has changed quite a lot. We gave everyone from last year a chance at the start and for some it didn’t work out.
"We’ve brought some good players into the squad which has allowed us to compete more physically, the likes of Matt Ward has helped massively, along with Jed Harper-Penman.
"We have added to the squad through the season, and they have each had an impact – Dan Metherell and Mark Betis for example."
The highlight for Dart this year has been the development of the squad and their loyalty to Holsworthy. He said: "Sometimes when things aren’t going your way it’s easy to walk away, but the players stuck with it.
"Although it can be frustrating at times it’s good to see the players stick at it and put in some good performances."
Looking to next year, Dart believes that his current Holsworthy squad will be able to climb the table. He continued: "Although we don’t know when we will be playing again, I am looking forward to the challenge.
"It’s difficult to judge at the moment but I’ve spoken to players and they’ve all told me they’re happy to stay. Hopefully we can add to this but that could all change going forward."
Dart thinks the current situation will have a big impact on both clubs and players. "I think that football will change dramatically in the local scene, clubs won’t be getting gate takings and sponsors could pull out which would bring more of a level playing field across the board," he said.
"Also, I believe participation will increase, especially for those who might play every other week. But those who have a ’take it or leave it’ attitude might leave the game completely.
"I can see some teams having to fold, the likes of second and third teams in a club.
"Personally, I just can’t wait for football to start again."