Season preview: St Blazey

The 2022/23 season brings with it the dawn of another new era at St Blazey, with a new manager, a new role for the previous manager and plenty of new signings all providing ingredients for an exciting year at Blaise Park.

Following a slow start to the 2021/22 season, Phil Lafferty’s side enjoyed a much-improved second half of their South West Peninsula League campaign, with the Green and Blacks becoming the only side to win a league match against champions Falmouth Town before reaching the Walter C Parson League Cup final, where they would ultimately lose 3-1 to Torpoint Athletic.

Lafferty has now stepped aside and moved upstairs at Blaise Park into a new head of football role, with Ryan Fice being installed as the new first-team manager following a brief but successful stint alongside Callington Town chief Shaun Vincent last term.

He and former Blazey boss Vincent masterminded a turnaround in club fortunes that saw Cally go on an 11-match unbeaten run to ultimately secure a ninth-place finish last season, and Blazey will be hoping for more of that magic from their new man.

“I really enjoyed being back involved in football [with Callington] and just before the end of the season I had a phone call from Phil,” Fice told Cornwall Sports Media. “He was talking about the possibility of coming here, I met with him and after a couple of meetings we felt it could be a good fit moving forward.

“Phil is a proper football man with vast experience and he knows the game inside out. I feel if we can get a good relationship going, with the contacts I’ve got and the contacts Phil’s got, and if we can bring it together then we’re hoping we can bring success back to St Blazey.”

He added: “We’re a new team, obviously there’s a few that have stayed and we’ve brought a few in, so it’ll take time to get it all together. Obviously, everyone wants to get promoted to the Western League so that’s what our targets are to achieve, and anything else is a bonus.”

Fice has already made his presence felt with the eye-catching signing of former Plymouth Argyle, Tiverton Town, Truro City and Plymouth Parkway midfielder River Allen.

The signing of Allen, who was playing National League South football with Truro as recently as three years ago, has been considered by several Cornish football followers as the signing of the summer in the SWPL, and Fice was delighted to bring the 26-year-old to Blaise Park.

“River’s got bags of experience and bags of quality,” he said. “If he can bring his experience into the football club and players can buy into River’s way of thinking of football, combined with the ability that River’s got, he can only be an asset – an absolute bonus. 

“In football, you never know what’s going to happen, but looking forward, I can’t see him being anything but a success because River’s a top-class player, and that’s what we want at the football club.”

The Green and Blacks boss has not stopped with the signing of Allen, with Fice looking to former club Callington for striker Luke Cloke, midfielder Gino Garside, central defender Lewis Russell and goalkeeper Brodie Cole, while former Liskeard Athletic man Sam Carter has also arrived at Blaise Park.

Jack Alexander and Steve Rogers have also returned to the club after a couple of seasons away, while local youngster Lawson Turpin has also committed to the Green and Blacks for the coming campaign.

“Luke Cloke is a striker who I know well,” Fice said. “He’s strong, powerful and knows where the net is so hopefully he’ll get a few goals next season. I’m looking forward to working with him again.

“Jack Alexander is an absolute workhorse on the right-hand side. He is going to give us pace and a great outlet moving forward. Gino Garside, a midfield player, has got bags of ability and can hopefully give us some creativity in the midfield areas.

“It’ll take a bit of time for it all to gel, I’m no-one’s fool. You can’t click your fingers and it works overnight, it’s a work in progress but hopefully the sooner, the better we can get it to gel. Every training session and every match I’m seeing positives so we’re hopefully moving in the right direction.”

First five matches

Sat, Aug 6: Penzance (H) 3pm – League

Wed, Aug 10: Wadebridge Town (H) 7.30pm – League

Sat, Aug 13: Launceston (A) 3pm – League

Sat, Aug 20: Sticker (A) 3pm – League

Wed, Aug 24: St Dennis (H) 7.30pm – League

Last season at a glance

League: 5th in South West Peninsula League Premier West (P:32, W:17, D:6, L:9 – F:83, A:54)

Cornwall Senior Cup: Second round – lost 3-1 at Millbrook

Walter C Parson League Cup: Final – lost 3-1 to Torpoint Athletic

FA Vase: Second qualifying round – lost 6-5 on pens at home to Dobwalls after 2-2 draw

FA Cup: Did not enter

Club information

Manager: Ryan Fice

Chairman: Martin Richards

Ground: Blaise Park (61 Station Rd, St Blazey, Par PL24 2ND)