All most clubs want to do is to continue making steady progress each year, and Sticker are a club that can safely say they’re doing just that.
It is ten years since the village team secured promotion out of the East Cornwall Premier League for the first time, and five since they cruised to the South West Peninsula League Division 1 West title, winning 29 of their 34 games and scoring a whopping 126 goals.
The mid-Cornwall outfit have recorded a variety of finishing positions among the lower reaches of the SWPL Premier since their promotion to Step 6 in 2017, culminating in a 14th-place finish last term – their highest-ever final position.
The test for Steve Flack’s side this season will be to see if that can be bettered again, and a good finish to the previous campaign suggests there is more to come.
“As a group we finished stronger, I think we had a little lapse in the middle of the season but we finished stronger,” Flack told Cornwall Sports Media. “We made a few changes to the staff and brought in a fitness coach and that enabled us to work harder.
“If you look at the results in our last month [of the season] we got draws at Bodmin and Callington, and that’s because we played to 90 minutes, whereas before in the second half we used to run out of steam.
“We were finishing stronger and that helped in the long run and we’ve maintained that during pre-season. I think the boys have worked really hard, they came back in early June and they worked really hard.”
Besides the capture of Will Snapes from Perranwell, the theme of Sticker’s transfer business has been returning faces. Jack Boardman and Sam Bray are back after spells away, while forward Sam Bullen, who scored one goal in eight games at the end of last season, continues to rebuild fitness after serving an 18-month suspension.
But perhaps Sticker’s biggest signing could be another one of the players already on their books, with talismanic forward Alfie Flack, son of manager Steve, regaining fitness after missing a large chunk of last season due to injury.
“Alfie didn’t play for six months of last year and he’s worked really hard to get himself fit,” Flack said. “He spent a lot of time with the physios and in fact he’s played 70 minutes [against Barnstaple] and 45 [against Millbrook] without pushing it too much so that’s a real bonus, because obviously he’s our goal scorer up top and somebody we look to.
“But the nice thing that’s happened is that Lewis Clapham has come in, he was a fringe player last year but he’s scoring goals in pre-season, and we might have players around the park that can score goals.”
A strong showing to the end of last term and returns for important players offer Flack and Sticker plenty of encouragement for the new season, but where is he hoping they end up at the end of the coming campaign?
“I’d like to see [us in the] top five this year,” Flack said. “As teams leave us and go into the Western League it opens up a little bit more. When I first came in three years ago we were always a mid to bottom team, but if you aspire to be better then everything else is a bonus if you finish above that.
“I think we’d be happy in mid-table but we’d like to be top five. I think the committee are getting towards the realms of wanting that and understanding that with a good squad and a good season, and a little bit of luck here and there, we could do all right.”
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First five matches
Sat, Aug 6: Bodmin Town (A) 3pm – League
Tue, Aug 16: Mullion (H) 7.30pm – League
Sat, Aug 20: St Blazey (H) 3pm – League
Tue, Aug 23: St Austell (H) 7.30pm – League
Sat, Aug 27: Penzance (A) 3pm – League
Last season at a glance
League: 14th in South West Peninsula League Premier West (P:32, W:9, D:3, L:20 – F:40, A:82)
Cornwall Senior Cup: Quarter-final – lost 2-1 at Wendron United
Walter C Parson League Cup: Second round – lost 4-0 at Brixham
FA Vase: Did not enter
FA Cup: Did not enter
Manager: Steve Flack
Chairman: Keith Donnithorne
Ground: Burngullow Park (Saint Austell PL26 7EN)