CAMELFORD boss Reg Hambly admits ‘I really missed the football’ as the Camels boss prepares for his 31st season in charge.
The Trefrew Park outfit were third in the Premier West division of the South West Peninsula League when the 2020/21 season was halted due to the COVID pandemic.
They had won ten, drawn two and lost just one of their fixtures, and would have been level on points with joint leaders Mousehole and Saltash United who have since been awarded promotion up to the Western League, if they won their games in hand.
They also advanced to the first round of the FA Vase before being comfortably beaten at Hellenic League side Royal Wootton Bassett.
Hambly admits he cannot wait to get going. He said: “After a couple of disrupted seasons it’ll be great to hopefully get a full season in again.
“Every year I think about whether it could be my last season as manager, but like everyone else during lockdown, I really missed the football, so I’m really excited for August to come around!”
Like most SWPL clubs, once restrictions started to ease in April, they competed in some friendlies.
Hambly said: “When we came back in April we had six games behind closed doors, and I was really happy with the boys’ fitness considering they hadn’t played in four months.
“We started training again a couple of weeks ago, and it’ll be great to get into our pre-season programme.
“We start on July 5 against Tavistock at home before we welcome Holsworthy on July 8.
“With all of April’s games behind closed doors, we’re looking forward to getting people back in to watch.
“We’ve got a really good mix of friendlies and it’ll be nice to get back into the routine of playing matches every week.”
Camelford friendlies: July 5 – Tavistock (H); July 8 – Holsworthy (H); July 14 – Penryn Athletic (A); July 20 – Torpoint Athletic (A); July 23 – Cribbs FC (H); July 28 – Bude Town (A).
One man Camels supporters are unlikely to see is star midfielder Matt Andrew, who has moved on, while key centre-half Josh McCabe’s availability is patchy.
Hambly said: “We’ve lost Matt, who’s joined Tavistock in the Western League.
“We’ve been extremely lucky to have had him for the last couple of years as he’s recovered from injury, but it’s no surprise that he’s gone to play at a higher level.
“He turned down several other clubs, but you can’t blame him. He’s still signed on for us, so may play the odd game in the SWPL, but we wish him well. It’s been a delight to have him.
“Josh McCabe is also unlikely to play much at the start of the season, but we’ve brought in a centre-back in Dan Metherell, who’s rejoined us from Wadebridge after several years away.”
The core of the Camels side remains intact, with Josh Colwill set to line up in goal, while the likes of Andy Boxall, skipper Adam Sleep and Bobby Hopkinson are all still at the club. That, coupled with some new additions, means Hambly should have plenty of selection headaches for the league opener at home to Dobwalls on August 7.
Hambly said: “Ed Harrison has finished university in Bristol and is back full time, which is a big plus, as is Josh Penrose, who was part of the Cornwall Under-18s team alongside Ed and Charlie (Hambly).
“We’ve also brought in two promising 17-year-olds in Cam Hutchison and Ryan Downing.
“Cam was at St Austell last year and can play anywhere across the midfield, while Ryan has been at Plymouth Argyle and is a forward. We’re looking forward to working with them. The final bit of news is that Luke Haworth, who is a full-back but can play anywhere down the right-hand side, is returning from long-term injury.
“We’ve got a squad of about 16 players, with a nice blend of youth and experience. We’ll be looking to continue from where we left off last year by playing some good football. I’m really looking forward to seeing us play.”