Season ending decision no surprise to Bartlett and Mawford


Non-League football has been curtailed for the second consecutive season. - Credit: Archant

The decision to curtail the 2020-21 non-league season for a second consecutive campaign hasn't come as unexpected to Weston or Cheddar.

Neither side has played league football since October and last took to the pitch in December, before the announcement of a third, and current, lockdown in January.

And following the announcement made by the Football Association on February 24, Seagulls manager Bartlett admitted it was a decision which was always going to happen.

“It’s not a surprise really, we all expected it,” he said.

“It’s taken a long time to get to this but I guess now the National League North and South were declared null and void it makes it easier to make a decision.”

Weston manager Scott Bartlett during their friendly with Willand Rovers

Weston manager Scott Bartlett during their friendly with Willand Rovers, which the Seagulls came from behind to win 2-1, in their last game of 2020. - Credit: Sam Hellings / Boomsatsuma / WsMAFC

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Weston had only played six Southern League Premier matches between September and October, including reaching the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup before being knocked out at Eastleigh, ahead of everything being put on hold for four weeks between November and December.

But, since returning from the second lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bartlett’s side have only played in a couple of matches including an FA Trophy defeat against Chesham United and a friendly win over Willand Rovers to end 2020 on a happy note.

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However, Bartlett insisted there was just too much to do, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that grassroots football could return from March 29 as part of the second stage of his four-step roadmap out of lockdown.

He added: “Let’s be honest, we all want to play and would jump at the chance but we would need a few weeks of training and then to effectively all move from National lockdown to tier two to allow supporters in. The timescales just wouldn’t work for that.

“We are constantly planning and trying to improve on and off the pitch so I suppose it’s helpful to know the situation. 

“It’s time now like all of the clubs to think ahead to next season.”

Cheddar boss Craig Mawford

Cheddar boss Craig Mawford before their Buildbase FA Vase first round match with Ashton & Backwell United with Stags manager Stuart Jones. - Credit: Josh Thomas

Cheddar manager Mawford was only hired in October, when he replaced Shaun Potter after his three years at the helm, managing three games before things came to a standstill.

And, like Bartlett. Mawford agreed the decision to null and void the campaign was the right one and said the club will get through these uncertain times by heading into 2021-22 stronger than ever before.

“It could only ever go one way if the league wouldn’t extend the deadline to get the games completed,” said Mawford, with the Cheesemen having only played in 10 Toolstation Western League Division One games before the campaign was suspended.

“We will try and focus on next year when we are able to meet as a group again, which will give us all something to look forward to.

“I think the people responsible at the club have been quite sensible. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think it will be an easy time for any club but I think we should cope.

“It’s been hard just not having any football, playing with people in the ground and the whole atmosphere changing, it has been difficult.

“We have to keep focusing on next year  and hoping we get to complete a season.

“I feel sorry for the boys having two incomplete seasons. We just have to stay positive and look forward to the next year.”

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