Bovey Tracey manager, Dennis Perry, stresses that blooding the youth will be just as important as starting big-name signings when his side travel to Wells City in the FA Cup on Tuesday, writes Andrew Clayton.
The Devonshire club have made themselves contenders for the Peninsula League East Division title over the last few years, but found their 2019-20 campaign washed out by the poor weather and the resulting backlog.
Facing a mammoth task of up to 19 games over just two months, the cancellation of the league through the Covid-19 pandemic was somewhat of an ark in the storm. Although, ahead of the new season, the club has undergone something of a rebuild. Perry, who previously held managerial jobs at Mangotsfield United and Chipping Sodbury Town, has succeeded Mark Blake in the Bovey hot seat, after the latter left by mutual consent, and already changes are underway in Devon.
Just some of the figures following Perry to Mill Marsh Park include attacking midfielder Guillermo Perez Lopez, from former Spanish La Liga winners Deportivo de la Coruna and formerly Mangotsfield under Perry, as well as uncompromising centre-half Sehena Coulibaly, who has time in the Turkish professional leagues on his CV.
Southern League striker Kyle Tooze also signs, as does towering Bristol Manor Farm defender Kai Fisher, while Bovey legend Sean Finch also returns to Mill Marsh Park along with several more. Joining Perry on the touchline, meanwhile, will be experienced coaches Marc Andow and Jules Emati-Emati.
However, the Bovey boss insists that there is more to his team than big names. Throughout pre-season, the new manager has worked closely with the under-18s set-up to bring the next crop of players through.
Speaking to The Independent, Perry began: “It’s a great club, with a brilliant set-up and a great bunch of lads. I’m just trying to bring in some older heads, as well as some of the younger lads as well.
“We’re not taking the pre-season friendlies that seriously. I’m not interested in the result, I’m just trying to get minutes in the boys and see how they play, and get them to understand what I want to play. They’re thriving on that. You’ve got to be confident, believe in your team and in your players, that they can do the job. In pre-season, the young lads I have picked out have grown in stature, they’ve stepped up to the task.”
The first competitive challenge for Perry is a new one for everybody involved with the club, as Bovey Tracey sets out on a journey into the FA Cup for the first time in its history.
On Tuesday, September 1, Perry and his crew make the trip up to Wells City, the Western League Division One battlers who crashed out of the FA Vase at the hands of Bovey Tracey, some seven years ago.
While Tuesday marks an historic night for the club, Perry has already guaranteed that the fresher-faced contingent of Bovey Tracey will play its part. If selected on the night, Bovey youth player Finn Wolfe, at just 16 years and 41 days old, would be one of the youngest players ever to feature in the cup.
“It’s an honour to be involved, making history for the club,” Perry continued. “The FA Cup is special; it’s the world’s most famous trophy, so being involved is special for everyone, as well as the young lads we’ve got coming through the club.
“I know Wells like to play their 4-4-2 and get the ball up to their strikers, but we’ve got a lot pace so if we can get in around the back, we’re going to cause them trouble all game long. It’s going to be a great game for both teams, both good teams, there’s a great surface up at Wells so we should see some attractive football.”