Ashes boss hits back at travel complaints
26th May 2021
By Gareth Davies
Saltash United boss Dane Bunney has fired a stinging broadside at critics from some Western League clubs who have slated the promotion of Cornish clubs to step five due to increased travelling.
Last week, the National League System (NLS) structure for season 2021-22 was finally rubber stamped by the Football Association with a move up to step five confirmed for Saltash United, their local rivals Millbrook, along with Helston Athletic and Mousehole.
This prompted criticism from some quarters as more traditional Western League clubs have been moved into the Hellenic League as the NLS revamp the pyramid.
The idea is to bring more teams from Cornwall and Devon up through the leagues with the quartet of clubs from the Duchy the first to move from the South West Peninsula League since its inception in 2007.
“Everybody down in this part of the world knows that if you want to go anywhere you have to travel,” Bunney said in an exclusive interview with the Voice. “With that in mind, the Bristol teams just need to suck it up, it’s as simple as that. They have had it easy for a long time and you can’t hand pick teams to play in your league based solely on geography.
“If teams deserve to be in a division, or the FA decided that teams playing in a certain league is what’s going to happen, then teams have to suck it up and get on with it. If the teams don’t want too then don’t – it really is as simple as that.”
Bunney also revealed that now the Ashes have secured their place in the Western League, they won’t be resting on their laurels with the Kimberley chief saying the club will ‘aim high’.
He added: “We have a very ambitious group of players and I have obviously been thinking about objections for the coming season.
“I think I would be doing the players a disservice if I stood in front of them and said, ‘right, let’s come in the top half’. They are a team of winners who only think about winning, regardless of who we play against.
“I don’t think that is a ridiculous notion so we have to aim high with ambitions and targets so why can’t Saltash United go up through the leagues? I’m not saying that will happen in the first Western League season, but it should be a target over time.
“We shouldn’t be content to consolidate at step five because we have the ground and a group of players that eventually do want to progress.”
Although the restructure’s conformation dominated the local football scene in the early part of last week, the Kernow Football Alliance took centre stage on Saturday as they travelled to London to face Cascadia FC.
The Cornish side eased to an 8-1 but talk beforehand centred on why no players from Saltash were called up with Bunney explaining why he felt that was the case.
“The players have never been asked,” he revealed. “Nobody has ever come to me and I know the players never went to Matt (Cusack) and asked if they could play for Kernow FA. We would never stop a player representing their county and we have never stopped a player taking part in any Cornwall Football Association representative squad because it’s an honour for Saltash as well.
“Whether the players would go is another question because the Kernow FA thing is still very new, and I don’t think everyone holds it in high esteem compared to those that are involved with it because travelling to London to win 8-1 isn’t that attractive.
“Back to my players and I will reiterate that they have never been asked to play for Kernow. That does confuse me a little bit because we have got a very good team with very good players. I know when Kernow first started the project you had to be born in Cornwall to play. Obviously everyone in this part of the county is born in Derriford but it is my belief that the rules have been changed and you now have to have lived in Cornwall for a certain amount of time.
“If you look at some of the names in the Kernow squad and then some of the names that aren’t, you could assume that those involved are being loyal to the current crop because of covid delays. I could understand that, but there was a time when the Cornwall FA squad was very biased towards teams deeper into the county and it was only after some lobbying that we got a few players in that squad.
“I can remember a few years back; we were in a title race with Tavistock, and we broke the clean sheet record for the particular season.
“We kept 26 clean sheets, only let in 23 goals and not one of our back four was picked for the Cornwall representative squad. In my mind all our defence should have been picked and it’s similar with Kernow as it’s more of who you know in terms of the selectors.”