It’s 10 years since Kevin Sturmey took over as chairman at Taunton Town Football Club from the legendary Tom Harris who along with wife Elsie dedicated his life to the Peacocks.
Formed in their present guise back in 1947, the club purchased their Wordsworth Drive ground, which is now known as the Cygnet Health Care Stadium from the local council in 1977 since when it has continued to be developed and being brought up to the standard required for the next level.
The Peacocks won the FA Vase in 2001 and gained promotion to the Southern League in 2002-3.
“For me Tom will always be ‘Mr Taunton Town’ because for a lifetime he did so much to pave the way for us to get to where we are now. Nobody will really ever realize just how much time and money he and Elsie committed to keep the club going ”
said the current chairman.
Now Kevin has stepped into Tom Harris’ shoes and in addition to being chairman he is the Chief Executive and Head Groundsman at Taunton Town and spends virtually every waking hour working for the club.
“They all sound pretty posh titles but I don’t think that there are many jobs that I haven’t done at one time or another at the club,”
“I was very competitive when I played sport and that makes me very ambitious as a person and I have brought that into my role as chairman of Taunton Town. I am never satisfied with where I am and I am always looking to go forward.
“I get my work ethic from my Dad who worked tirelessly at Taunton Cricket Club where I played until my knee started to prevent me.
“When I first got involved at Taunton Town they had been close to being relegated back into the Western League and they were struggling. “
Over the last few seasons the Peacocks have become a force to be reckoned with in non-league football.
For only the second time in their history in 2016 they reached the first round proper of the FA Cup, losing to Barrow after a mid week replay in the north west, and gaining promotion to the Southern League Premier Division South at the end of the 2017-18 season.
The following season the team just missed out on promotion to National League South and when the 2019-20 season came to an early conclusion because of the Covid 19 lockdown the Peacocks were challenging for a place in the play offs once again.
“To me Taunton should be competing with Yeovil, who are probably the biggest non league club that there has been, certainly in my lifetime. We are the county town of Somerset and that will never change.”
Four years after narrowly beating the Peacocks in the F A Cup, Barrow FC are playing in League Two this season following promotion from the National League.
“When I look at Barrow we have got many similarities, we share the same ethos, and the way that we are involved with our community. We should have beaten them down here and were unlucky not to win up there.
“It will be interesting to see how Barrow cope with that step up because I don’t think that there is a huge difference between League Two and the National League.”
Just how far does the Club Chairman think that Taunton Town can go in the footballing pyramid?
“There is no reason why we can’t be a football league club especially if League Two divides into North and South divisions which I think it will have to after what is going on.”
“Taunton has a big population and we have got an even bigger catchment area with people travelling from West Somerset and Devon to watch us on a regular basis.”
“Our gates have increased since we have enjoyed success but we need to attract still more people on a regular basis and the better the results we can get the more who will come and watch us.
“What Barrow have had is momentum over a number of years and that is what we have as well.
“I told the players at their first training session that we are going to do everything as a club that we possibly can to get promotion to the next level and further.
“Football has to become sustainable and the biggest thing that we have achieved was to have zero debt. We are now all set for football at the next level in the near future.”
Finally in the light of the Covid 19 how does Kevin see the 2020-21 season unfolding.
“We can’t run our football club without fans, so we have made it safe for people to come along to watch matches, socially distanced.”
Four years ago, under the watchful eye of former Taunton Town player and manager the club set up the Community Trust to develop their own players.
“We set it up to encourage football for enjoyment and now we have got over 240 youngsters playing regularly. If just one or two of those youngsters go onto make it through to the first team each year that will be a real bonus. However it’s a pretty high standard that we are playing at.
“Its great to still be involved in competitive sport and it’s great that we have been able to get the new season underway.”
From what I saw when I called in to meet the chairman it’s all systems go at the Cygnet Health Care Stadium in Wordsworth Drive, the home of Taunton Town Football Club.
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