NEWQUAY manager Tony Mackellar will spend time this week ringing around each of his squad to ensure they have everything they need while in isolation, writes Tom Howe.
In the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has placed the United Kingdom on a police-enforced lockdown, with the Football Association and National League System decreeing seasons at steps three to six be brought to an end with all results expunged.
The Peppermints found themselves sixth in the table when the axe fell upon South West Peninsula League Premier West and on course for their highest place finish since ending the 1995-96 South Western League campaign in seventh position.
Whilst admitting his disappointment at not being able to complete the season, Mackellar said he understood the reasons behind the decision and revealed he would be contacting his players individually to ensure their safety and talk through plans moving forward.
“I have given the boys a bit of time off,” Mackellar told the Voice. “We didn’t really know what was happening until last week. In our group chat, the lads were saying that we would be back and playing but, in the back of my head, I was thinking ‘no chance’.
“This week I am ringing around the players to see how they are coping with the current situation and what they think about how the season went, how they performed individually and what their plans are for next season.
“People are already planning ahead – you only have to look at Matt Cusack up at Saltash who has gone to Plymouth Parkway. As usual, we will have the vultures flying around. There are players at Newquay that other teams want. We expect that because it happens every year. We will fight them off as best we can and are quietly confident the players should say, although you never, ever know.
“The only good thing I would say is that we are all in the same boat. We did have some friendlies lined up. We were looking at having Chester down again plus Nuneaton Borough and I think they were trying for Plymouth Argyle youth. I don’t see that going ahead. I’ll be honest, I see a delayed season coming up. I don’t expect to start the season until September as I don’t see us coming out of isolation that quickly and being able to mix in large groups.
“I think it would be quite a compact season, potentially finishing in May. That is the best case scenario as well. We have to be realistic as to how the current climate is. We would be gutted, but we also know that everyone is in the same boat.
“Training wise, we are asking the guys to go out for runs so they don’t lose that fitness. There would be more if we were to go and have a late start, for example me ringing up, facetiming the guys and going through their exercise with them.”
Approaching his fifth season in charge at Mount Wise, Mackellar continues by saying: “Realistically, we were the highest we could have got for this season. We were aiming for sixth and, for us, it would have been nice to finish the league off.
“I’m sure, like the rest, we understand why we didn’t but it would have been nice to have seen where we would have finished. It would have been the highest finish that we would have achieved and we are proud of that. Every year we have set out the stall to improve and I think we were going to do that. It had been a funny old season with the weather anyway. The way that it happened, I wouldn’t say I am massively surprised.
“I am disappointed but, for us, sixth or seventh was where we were going to be anyway.”
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