The Acland Park home of Feniton Football Club has been a hive of activity as the club prepares for a new campaign, one that will see them field three senior teams, the first team playing in the Scott Richards Solicitors Devon League and the second and third teams – the latter the club’s newest senor team – playing in the Joma Devon & Exeter League.
We caught up with Feniton manager James Hiscox and first up asked how things are going in what are the early stages of pre-season, particularly with there currently being plenty of new covid cases and NHS app ‘pinging’ forcing folk into isolation across the county of Devon.
The Feniton chief replied saying: “Well, up until today (Thursday, July 15), we have been lucky and managed to train and get our first pre-season friendly in against Buckland Athletic Reserves.
“However, yesterday and today we are starting to see an increase in our players having to get tested or self isolate. It seems it is happening all over the place and it is beginning to worry me that we may not get the start date we all hope for in terms of the new league season. I do hope that’s not the case, but the cases of positive testing and isolation do seem to be rising rapidly.”
We then asked: “Some clubs are having to borrow players to ensure they get pre-season games played. Is that something you would consider?”
He replied: “Well, for me personally, I honestly do not see the benefits from borrowing players who won’t be playing for you in the coming season. We have plenty of young talented lad’s at Feniton and if we were forced into a situation that meant play or cry off, in terms of pre-season fixtures, I’d be looking to dig deep into the clubs playing resources and give playing opportunities to youngsters – which, in some cases, might well be sooner than expected and so I’d have the philosophy of ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ – after two broken season we need to be playing!”
Next up, we asked: “Have you had any new players come to pre-season, or are there players still thinking/weighing up their options/opportunities.”
The Acland Park boss replied saying: “Yes we have almost all of the Under-16s from last season training and that’s exciting to see. It is certainly something this club prides it’s self on (giving the youth a chance).
“I’m delighted that U16s centre half Owen Hanks has signed for us after interest from other clubs. There’s no doubt he is a top player at his age and he put in a fine performance against Buckland on Tuesday night, as did another of that same U16 group, Henry Woodward, who put in a Man of the Match performance in the game.
“Both players have bright futures and we have a few other new faces turning up for our pre-season sessions and we are very hopeful they will sign sooner, rather than later.”
We then moved the chat onto the specifics of league fixtures and if he, as Feniton boss, was aware of when the club might learn just who they launch their new life as a Scott Richards Solicitors Devon League team against.
He answered saying: “I have not heard anything yet on fixtures. All I know is that the planned start date for the new league term is Saturday, August 14. As to any preference with who we might have to play on the opening day – none really. Whoever we face we will make sure we are ready for what ever that particular test may bring.”
Next we asked: “Given that the new divisional make-up has been published for the 2021/22 Joma Devon & Exeter League season, does it worry you that there is now quite a gap between your first team in the Devon League and the second team playing in what is effectively the fourth tier of D&E League football [the Feniton Reserves will play in Division Three of the D&E League]?”
He replied: “The mood at the club is good and we are clearly heading in a positive direction. We expected both our second team and the new development team to be in and around the divisions they have been placed in and, from a first team point of view, the gap doesn’t worry me because we have top, top coaches at the club and players will be learning every week from them and I trust that, when called on, such players will cope just fine with stepping up.
“That said, of course it’s the case that having our second team in and around the D&E Premier and Division One would help with maybe the tempo of the game. But, again, I am confident that, with us having two EUFA B coaches on the books, and both are already making a massive difference at the club, that, although there is a ‘gap’ in terms of first team playing level to second team, we do not see that gap as being a problem.”
We then asked: “Have any players been impressing you in terms of pre-season sessions – how do you view the general standard of fitness among the players?”
The Feniton boss said: “Training has been going well and fitness levels have been getting better each week.
“The real fitness test comes when the games get going week in and week out, but they way we are looking, I do think that fitness levels will be good come the start of the season.
“As for players who have impressed there has been a few players who have giving that little bit extra at training.”
He continued: “Elliot Anning is another of our U16s. He has a brilliant attitude and willingness to learn. I must again mention Owen Hank for he has been at training every week and always with a great attitude along with another U16, Aaron Mingo, a lad with a huge personality. He [Aaron] is another who is always there and never gives less than 110%!”
We then asked: “Are there any playing positions you would still like to bring into the squad and, if so, are you still training around the pre season games – how do new players get hold of you – phone you, or turn up at Acland Park training sessions.”
He replied saying: “I think that any manager will always have an eye on any new players that might become available. That said, I’m happy with my squad and believe we have what’s needed to complete at step seven [the Scott Richards Solicitors Devon League is a step seven league].
“I was looking for a left footed player and so far we have had three training with us and I’m hoping at least two of these will be signing for the coming season. If there are players out there who are keen to join a club that continues to grow, harbours great ambitions, enjoys a feel-good factor in all areas of club life and is well run from top to bottom, then we’d love to welcome them into our football family. They can/could make contact with us via our Facebook page or simply pitch up at our training session which take place each Tuesday and Thursday at Acland Park, Feniton, with a 6.30pm start on both days.”
We then asked: “Turning to the business side of football – are Feniton looking for sponsors, match sponsors, ground board holders etc.”
The Fenny boss replied: “Yes, of course, we are always on the look out for additional sponsorships. I would love to see more local business get involved at Feniton. We are able to offer all sorts or different price ranges. Some of the opportunities that we do currently have are for pitch side ground boards, match day sponsors, player sponsorships – to name but a few – and anyone who would like to become involved as a sponsor can make contact with us through Facebook from which we are always very quick to respond.”
Staying with the business side of things, we asked: “Will the club be doing a programme for the coming season and will this be a paper one or going down the digital route that so many clubs adopt these days?”
The Feniton boss replied: “Now that we have moved up to step 7 we will be doing a paper program that will be sold on the gate on entry. It’s all ready to go and I am sure that people won’t be disappointed on purchase.”
Finally, we gave the ‘floor’ to the Fenny boss with regard to him being able to add whatever else he wanted and he was quick to say: “I want to say a very big and very loud ‘shout out’ to our groundsmen who have again given up their time getting everything ready for the coming season we are so fortunate to have them and are, indeed, truly grateful and thankful for all their efforts – their work is so appreciated.”