The north coast of Cornwall will be home to another Step 6 football team this season as Bude Town return to the South West Peninsula League following three years away.
The club had initially hoped to rejoin the league in 2021 but their hopes were dashed due to a miscommunication with the FA regarding their ground grading requirements, meaning the Seasiders had to regroup and go again in 2021/22.
Despite being the sole applicants from the St Piran League East and having their ground requirements sorted this time around, it still wasn’t plain sailing for the Seasiders, who needed to earn a top-five finish. It looked at one point as if Bude may fall short, but Josh Allen’s side won their final six games to finish fourth and clinch promotion.
“I thought we weren’t going to do it at one point because we had to finish in the top five,” Allen told Cornwall Sports Media, “but when it came down to it the boys dug in and managed to claw out some results and we got there in the end, thank God.”
Bude’s promotion marks the end of a three-year absence from the SWPL after the Seasiders withdrew in 2019 when the league was restructured into two Step 6 divisions. It was felt that the club needed time to build at a lower level, having been part of the old Division 1 West at Step 7, but the club may well have acted differently had they had the benefit of hindsight.
“We withdrew from the SWPL because we were trying to rebuild with a lot of youngsters,” Allen said, “but in hindsight we could have stayed in because obviously there were two covid seasons and we’d have still been there – it would have saved us a lot of aggro!
“But obviously things change and with ground gradings we’d have had to have changed everything eventually, but we could have not had the two covid seasons in the St Piran and stayed in the SWPL!”
All clubs are keen to bring in new players regardless of situation and Bude are no different, with the north coast outfit having already added a handful of promising young talent to their ranks for the coming season.
Former Torquay United centre-back Josh Baxter has made the move from Dorchester Town, while promising goalkeeper Liam Hill also joins having previously represented the Gulls. Local Bude lad Ruan Tape has signed from Wadebridge Town and will be available when not at university, while winger Ryan White has arrived from Elmore, but will miss the start of the campaign due to injury.
Allen is also pleased to have retained the core of the Seasiders side that earned promotion last season, including 14-goal man Luke Potter and striker Billy Hopcroft, who found the net 15 times in only 18 outings.
Those additions and re-signings have given rise to a sense of cautious optimism at Broadclose Park, with Allen hopeful of at least a mid-table finish on the Seasiders’ SWPL return.
“With everything that’s going to happen with [the restructure] the season after, we obviously want to be part of that and there’s no reason why we can’t realistically be at least a mid-table team. Bude is a difficult place to come to and on their day some of my lads are decent enough to compete with some of the best in our league.
“Realistically, we’d be looking at mid-table, which would be nice – a nice, comfortable way to say we’re back. I’m not going to stand here and say, ‘We’re going to push and try and win it’, but you never know.
“Our first five Saturday games are at home and that could work in our favour as long as we can get the crowd behind us and the lads are performing. We start in second, so let’s try and stay there for as long as we can.”
He added: “The lads are in good spirits as well. We’ve had a mixed pre-season but the lads haven’t taken the results to heart or anything, it’s all about getting the minutes in the legs and knowing how we want to play and taking the club forward.”
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First five matches
Sat, Aug 6: Newquay (H) 3pm – League
Sat, Aug 13: Bodmin Town (H) 3pm – League
Tue, Aug 16: Callington Town (A) 7.30pm – League
Sat, Aug 20: Dobwalls (H) 3pm – League
Tue, Aug 23: Launceston (A) 7.30pm – League
Last season at a glance
League: 4th in St Piran League East (P:26, W:16, D:3, L:7 – F:124, A:30)
Cornwall Senior Cup: Did not enter
Cornwall Intermediate Cup: Quarter-final – lost 3-1 on pens at home to Hayle after 3-3 draw
St Piran League Cup: First round – lost 3-1 at home to Wendron United reserves
FA Vase: Did not enter
FA Cup: Did not enter
Manager: Josh Allen
Ground: Broadclose Park (Bude EX23 8DR)