The Peacocks will begin their defence of the Somerset Premier Cup with a home game against Western League Division One side Ashton & Backwell. The tie is scheduled for week commencing 9th October.
The common notion that the summer months give staff and volunteers at a non-league club a long break could not be further from the truth at the Viridor Stadium. Ground maintenance, sourcing and renewing sponsorship, football administration for the new season, kit to organise, the day to day financial management of the club.... just some of the tasks that carry on between May and July.
One of the main areas of focus is pitch maintenance, with a lot of work crammed in since the final game played on 17th May. Chairman and Head Groundsman Kevin Sturmey outlines the challenges faced, commenting:”It doesn't seem long since we hosted Yeovil Ladies v Reading Ladies, in fact it's only two months and less than two months since we re-seeded and scarified the pitch on 19th May. We really should have 12 weeks to compensate for the weird weather we now experience and this summer has been no exception as it's been windy, very hot, a little wet but never how you want it. While we have some great equipment (Irrigator, quadraplay and good mowers), everything here is very labour intensive and I am indebted to Simon (Best), my Assistant Groundsman who puts in so many extra hours as like me he is a perfectionist. Neither of us will be happy with the pitch until it's as we want it”
Despite the work put in so far, the Chairman wants to see further improvement, remarking:”It's probably two weeks away from what I want to see as unless you have the resources of a full time club we end up trying to force nature which never works. It will be ok for the next week or so when we have three games but my target realistically is 15th August for our first home league game. We have watered virtually every day in the last month but you can't beat rain and some seed still needs to come through as where we scarified heavily the sand top dressing is still fairly thick so after the Exeter game we will put the germination sheets on to force the seed up quicker than normal. It looks like we have put in sand bands or drainage but we haven't, it's just the sand used for levelling has not allowed germination as quickly as I would like. Still, we have to get on with it and it will be the best we can produce for the next week and then some more work before the Bristol City game and more work leading up to the first League game.”
Although the pitch is in very good nick, it is no secret that the surface is far from flat. Sturmey continued:” I guess some people may wonder why we can't just level it all up perfectly in one go - believe me if I had a magic wand I would! There are two reasons why not; firstly the pitch moves each season and has undulations caused by being built on a landfill site. We haven't top dressed the goalmouths, it's the land that drops each side of the six yard box which makes it look higher than it actually is. Secondly we don't have at least £100,000 to bring a contractor in to level the whole pitch. So over the next five years or so we aim to lower the top part (Clubhouse side) by scarifying as deep as practicable and raise the lower side (Tom Harris Stand) by small amounts each season. Over the next three seasons we hope to lower the six yard boxes using either a Koro machine or deep scarifying or both!”
Sturmey is again among the nominations for the Groundsman of the Year awards next month and concluded:”My aim is always to produce the best surface possible with the resources and personnel we have and I am always looking at little ways to improve everything. If I ever watch a Premier League game (the one in the different universe, not Southern!) I generally look at the pitches to get ideas and the football is always the secondary bit I watch. Simon and I have been invited to Spurs Training Ground in September by Darren Baldwin, their Head of Playing Surfaces, which will be a great experience and we hope he may have some equipment he doesn't need! We will both be very envious of the number of staff and the resources available but we can but dream and keep doing the lottery! Buying tickets in the Somerset West lottery and supporting Taunton Town will help as at least we get 50% of that going to the club!”
The Peacocks will begin their 2017-18 Evo-Stik League season with an away game at Cirencester Town following the release of the League fixtures today (13th July). The Centurions who arrive after relegation from the Southern Premier will host Town on 12th August which will be followed by a home game for the Peacocks against Mangotsfield United on Tuesday 15th August. The FA Cup tie at home to Larkhall Athletic on 19th August is then followed by two more league fixtures away to Shortwood United and home to Paulton Rovers on August Bank Holiday Monday to end the month.
Festive opposition is provided by Paulton again on Boxing Day whilst Bideford visit the Viridor Stadium on New Year's Day, with the return game at Bideford taking place on Easter Monday. The league campaign ends with a trip to Cinderford Town on Saturday 28th April. The full fixture list is now available HERE.
The Peacocks were handed home ties in both national cup competitions after the draws for the early rounds were released by the FA today (7 July). In the Preliminary Round of the Emirates FA Cup, Evo-Stik League divisional rivals Larkhall Athletic will visit the Viridor Stadium on Saturday 19 August. The draw for the 1st Round Qualifying has not yet been issued. Meanwhile another of Town's league opponents AFC Totton provide the travelling opposition in the Preliminary Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy on Saturday 7 October, with the winners of this tie hosting Southern Premier Merthyr Town in the 1st Round Qualifying on Saturday 28 October.
Launching later this month is the Somerset West Lottery which gives all Peacock fans the chance to help their club whilst also being in with a chance of winning a top prize of £25,000! The new lottery has been introduced to benefit community projects and services and with ground improvements and youth development high on our agenda, we hope our supporters will become involved as 60% of the £1 ticket price will go to the club. The first lottery draw is on 29th July and every ticket sold has a 1 in 50 chance of winning a prize. For more information on the lottery and how to buy tickets, please click HERE.
We are again inviting entries from local companies to our annual Sponsors' Draw which this year is being held during the interval of the home friendly with Weymouth on Tuesday 25th July. As per normal, the first name out the hat will have their company logo on the front of the first team home shirt, with four further prizes on offer. Each entrant will also receive a free transferable season ticket. Further details on this great promotional opportunity and how to enter can be found HERE. The Sponsors' Draw is just one of a number of sponsorship opportunities available at the club, more of which can be viewed HERE.
Two more friendlies have been arranged to complete Town’s pre-season schedule. The Peacocks will visit neighbours Bridgwater Town on Tuesday 1st August and will then host Bristol City three days later at the Viridor Stadium on Friday 4th August. Both matches kick off at 7.45pm. Bridgwater will begin life in the Western League next season after being relegated from the Southern League. City meanwhile begin their Championship campaign on 5th August so will field a side consisting of Under 23’s and squad players not involved the following day.
Our Head Groundsman and Chairman Kevin Sturmey has again been nominated in the Groundsman of the Year awards for 2017. It is the fourth successive year that he has been a finalist in the national awards, having won the Southern League Groundsman accolade two years running in 2014 and 2015 while also picking up the national award for Steps 3 and 4 in 2014 and being named runner-up a year later. This year’s award ceremony will be held at St George’s Park in August.
Two of Town’s squad from last season have decided to leave for pastures new in search of regular football. Striker Craig Veal has opted to join Bideford after spending the past two years at the Viridor Stadium, his second spell at the club. During his time with the Peacocks he made 192 appearances and scored 51 goals. Josh Searle who has operated as a wing back and wide midfielder whilst with Town has also departed and signed for Western League Willand Rovers, having made 102 appearances since joining in the summer of 2015. We thank them both for their excellent service in the past two seasons and wish them the best of luck for the future.
Although trials have been held for Taunton Town’s newly formed Junior Premier League sides, we wish to stress that we are still recruiting for players at U14, U15 and U16 level (those currently in school years 8, 9 and 10). For your chance to participate in this new and exciting footballing initiative please email email@example.com as soon as possible to be considered. Youth coach and co-ordinator Ben Palmer commented:” "We've seen some great talent so far and we’re excited about getting started. It’s a great opportunity for young players in the local area who are committed to learn and develop as footballers.”
Dates have been set for Welcome Evenings for those young footballers already earmarked for Town’s new Junior Premier League squads. Trials have been held recently for Under 12’s up to Under 16’s and two evenings will be held at the Viridor Stadium next month for players and parents. The night for Under 12’s and Under 13’s will be held on Thursday 6th July while Under 14’s, 15’s and 16’s will attend on Thursday 27th July, both events starting at 7.30pm.
Chairman Kevin Sturmey added:” “With the first team squad nearly complete, our focus for the next few weeks is firmly on developing our Junior Premier League squads. This is a great opportunity for young footballers in Taunton, providing a clear pathway with realistic achievable goals in partnership with Bridgwater & Taunton College and University Centre Somerset who offer educational opportunities up to degree level. The introduction of teams at various age groups to compete in the Junior Premier League heralds further exciting times for Taunton Town with the programme headed up by our Development Coach Paul West, the only Taunton man to lift a national trophy in the club’s 70 year history.”