Weston goalkeeper Purnell proud to play a leading role for his local club
PUBLISHED: 09:30 17 April 2020
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Away from performing in front of hundreds on Saturday afternoon, Weston goalkeeper Luke Purnell is teaching in a local school.
Just like he does for the Seagulls, Purnell uses his leadership techniques in the classroom to bring out the best of the people around him.
“It’s great to be that positive role model for lots of kids, it’s rewarding and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” he said.
After representing North Somerset Schools and Plymouth Argyle Juniors, Purnell joined the club when he was 16 in 2007.
He left in the summer of 2010 to sign a permanent deal with Dawlish Town, before further moves to Barnstaple Town and Bridgwater Town during his time studying at university.
But after arriving back at The Optima Stadium in 2013, following the completion of his degree, Purnell has been ever-present in the Weston line-up and admits his job gives him a “lot more pride” in his performance.
“It makes me thrive to succeed, I don’t want to let down the local town and fans because I want to win, perform to the best of my ability and I want the club to succeed,” he added.
“Obviously being local I can see the negative stuff with things like the relegation. I just don’t want to be amongst unsuccessful performances. It just inspires me to perform and keep performances on a high. I’ve got a lot of passion for the area and for the club.
“I want to perform for them and be successful for the club.”
Purnell’s performance in the Somerset Cup quarter-final just showed how valuable he is to the club after making five key saves in their win over Taunton Town.
That helped Weston reach the last four with Hengrove Athletic standing in their way of reaching a fourth successful final, before the competition was cancelled.
In the Southern League, Scott Bartlett’s men had taken 25 points from their 36 available since their 2-1 victory over Yate Town and were flying as they aimed to continue their good run of form against The Bluebells at The Optima Stadium on March 14.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Weston’s match was called off along with those against Poole Town and Hartley Wintney that week.
After the decision to postpone all football until April 3, an announcement from the Football Association on March 26 declared the season would end with immemediate effect and all results expunged.
“We were in a good place,” admitted Purnell.
“It took us a while to find our feet and establish what was our strongest squad. We had a lot of problems with injuries.
“Obviously I missed a chunk of the season at the start, I’ve not been in the best form this year, but they just appointed a goalkeeping coach (Steve Laker) for me.
“It felt like I was turning a corner personally and certainly the team had already started turning a corner.
“I was confident we were going to make the play-offs because our run of games was good, the teams above us we all still had to play. I was confident.
“It was a massive shame and I feel cancelling the leagues so early was a shame and frustrating.
“You just didn’t what was going to happen, the only thing it does, it gives us an opportunity to start fresh.
“Most of us are on long-term contacts, we are will be here for next year, which sets us up nicely for a real go next year.”
However, despite the uncertain times, Purnell says Weston have been loyal and given players reassurance whilst keeping in touch, which he admits is “massive”.
He said: “It shows how good the club is and what a considerate club we are. The players have got a lot of respect for the club and understand in this difficult period, that they are being incredible to us.
“We are just grateful to the club for that and hopefully we can reward the club by putting in a shift and getting automatic promotion.
“We are doing our bit to stay on top of our fitness.
“I know pre-season will be a challenge but really good. We all know our strengths and weaknesses from what we’ve had so far. The gaffer, ‘Lairdy’ and Stevie can really focus on those points and put them right.
“Because it’s not going to take a lot for us get back into the full swing of things. We are now all familiar with each other.
“For me personally it would be good to kick a football, I’ve not kicked a football in weeks. We are just looking forward to that and we have take every positive that we can at the moment and keep morale high and get ourselves ready soon as pre-season arises.”
But Purnell, who will celebrate his 30th birthday in June, says he is living the dream by playing for Weston.
“It was always been my ambition to play for my local club and it goes hand in hand with my job,” he added.
“I have got so much love for the club because the people involved are all brilliant and so supportive. The fans are great, we don’t have the biggest number of fans, but certainly in terms of passion and their commitment to the club is incredible.
“I’m happy to see out my whole footballing career at the club, to be honest. I can’t see myself not being involved at the club beyond my playing days.”
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