Weston's Bartlett hopeful football can return to normal following lockdown

Weston's James Waite with Nick McCootie

James Waite celebrates scoring Weston's equaliser against Willand Rovers in December. - Credit: Sam Hellings / Boomsatsuma / WsMAFC

Weston manager Scott Bartlett is full of hope football “can get back to normal and without fear of another break” following the latest announcement made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday to introduce a third national lockdown.

The first lockdown lasted between March and May last year before a second one followed for four weeks between November and December.

Weston beat Willand Rovers 2-1 in their last game of 2020 in December.

Weston last played in December against Willand Rovers, where The Seagulls came from behind to win 2-1. - Credit: Sam Hellings / Boomsatsuma / WsMAFC

And now teams in non-elite and grassroots football have been told there will be no training or matches until March.

“As a club we will deal with it, our players are looking after themselves and will be ready for when we return,” said Bartlett.

“For me personally it’s a tough time with not a lot to look forward to. We want to work, see our players and get back to normal but for now we have to sit back and wait, do our best and hope this latest lockdown does the trick. It’s a really hard time at the moment.”

But Bartlett admitted his thoughts on the situation had changed in the last few weeks.

He added: “If you asked me a while ago I would have said I was surprised because we thought by now we would be back playing and a vaccine would be the answer everyone was looking for.

“But since then according to the national media things have got progressively worse, so by the time we actually got the news it wasn’t a surprise.

Weston's The Optima Care Stand

Weston's The Optima Care Stand at The Optima Stadium. - Credit: Sam Hellings / Boomsatsuma / WsMAFC

“It kills our season as we know it, in my opinion, it’s a tough time for everyone and the sooner we can get back to normal the better.”

During the last two lockdowns a fitness programme was put in place by Bartlett to ensure the players kept fit.

And the former Forest Green Rovers academy manager says there is another programme in place this time round to ensure his players are ready for when football returns again.

He said: “They are a good set, we are split into three groups with a member of staff and a senior player managing each one.

“There are a variation of runs and conditioning work that they are responsible for, I think it’s a good way to go, to give players ownership and to help and ensure each other are maintaining good levels of fitness and morale.

“Physical stuff is important and the lads have been very professional but possibly keeping in touch with each other is even more important.

Weston player-assistant manager Scott Laird

Scott Laird has been with Weston since the summer of 2019, after nine years in the Football League. - Credit: Sam Hellings / Boomsatsuma / WsMAFC

"(Scott) 'Lairdy' has kept the players group chat alive and I am there if anyone needs anything.

“We have to remember that it’s a hard time, when I was a player I would have found this situation hard to deal with and we hope we can get back to normal and without fear of another break.”


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