The 2019/20 South West Peninsula League Premier West season will begin this week, with our four main teams all competing in the same division for the very first time.

The Packet spoke to Falmouth Town manager Andrew Westgarth, Helston Athletic boss Steve Massey, Porthleven co-manager Jamie Thomson and Wendron United boss Jack Greenwood to preview the upcoming campaign.

2018/19 in a nutshell?

AW: A weird season really. Cup football was fantastic, to get to two finals and winning the Senior Cup was a special day and a great memory, not just for the players but for the club itself.

A disappointing league campaign really, we were really poor away from home which was a big disappointment for us, but as an overall season you'd have to say winning a trophy was a success, so it was a successful season.

SM: Underachieved last year. Clearly our inabilities to finish off some good football with goals, and that was backed up with our goal tally. I think think there was only four other teams that had a better goals against record, so that was the main priority this year.

Last season was one where we totally underachieved, even with the players we had, and to finish 11th was disappointing but clearly we knew where the problems and improvements lay and I think I've rectified that this season.

JT: For myself I kind of knew that it was not going to necessarily be my last season as a player, but it was a season where I had consciously decided to play Combination football when I still know I could probably do a job at this level. I got to play with guys that I was friends with and the ones that made up the core of the Sid Taylor team that I captained that was our most successful period at Helston.

It was done on an enjoyment basis more than a challenge basis but on a personal note I scored quite a few goals and we won the cup to top off the season, so it was quite a nice way to sign off at Helston.

JG: The season just gone has been so much more enjoyable, we equalled records and broke a few records and the improvement between us and the season before was incredible. I might be biased but I think this is probably the best Wendron team that there has been for certainly a very long time.

The biggest thing for me was it was much more enjoyable: the lads were superb for me last year, we had a real togetherness, squad selection and availability wasn't an issue like it had been before, and it was just an all-round much more enjoyable experience and a much nicer place to be.

This is The West Country:

Highlight of last season?

AW: Without a shadow of a doubt winning that Senior Cup. To see Wardy [James Ward], that header, and Coops [Joe Cooper] hitting the top corner, two great goals.

Another highlight for us was to see the club galvanise itself; to see the F-Troop back in force, the fact we're staying at Bickland Park – over the summer it's been given a bit of a facelift, new floodlight grants, we've got new goals now. The fact that we're staying now shows the club is going in the right direction.

SM: The potential was totally realised when we went to Bodmin [and won 5-1] and then we backed that up going to Falmouth a few days later and won. I think we conceded one goal and scored eight in the two games, and particularly with the youngsters we thought it was coming together.

The Boxing Day win against Falmouth, which was the first time we'd beaten Falmouth in any game, was a high point.

JT: I enjoyed the Helston-Falmouth games last season when we played their second team. We managed to not lose to them which was good because they were a good side last year, and obviously the cup final, beating them in that was good.

JG: The obvious highlight was the Porthleven game in the cup but obviously that was marred immediately afterwards and we're still feeling the effects of that, but the Porthleven game on Boxing Day was really big for me.

Both Porthleven games and that spell over Christmas was really important for me and was probably the stand-out games for me, not just because they are local rivals, but the levels we reached those days were very, very good.

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How has pre-season been?

AW: Other than the Helston game, result-wise I think it has been a really good pre-season. It is silly season, no manager can enjoy pre-season. There's so many rumours flying around and so many clubs talking a good game, but I thought our biggest success for pre-season was keeping the majority of our squad, only losing Wardy, and adding some really good, exciting players.

SM: The mental approach to this year is going to be totally different for the Helston team. A lot of players will be used to that, having played for teams that won championships, won cups, but for the Helston club it will be totally different, as we found already in these two pre-season games [against Porthleven and Penzance] where we've been expected to go and win it and been turned over.

To lose three pre-season games, two of them in the manner we did, was very disappointing, and I think could be just the impact we needed anyway. It has been a good lesson, I think.

JT: Better than I expected! In the three games in the Dave Gardner and a couple of other games we've managed to get good results and that shows that if we all buy into the same thing it can be successful.

JG: It's been slightly disjointed actually, weirdly I enjoyed pre-season a bit more last year. It has been a bit disjointed but in terms of the lads that have been there for every session I think everyone is feeling fitter, feeling sharper, and now we've got those new faces in it has given us the little lift that we needed and those lads that have been there deserve that.

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Aims for this season?

AW: Winning a trophy and improving on our league form. What's more successful, coming second and not winning a cup, or winning a cup and coming sixth or fifth, which is what we did last year? We've got the Charity Cup to play for this year so that's another cup.

If we can be in and around winning a cup and improve our league position I'll be very happy.

SM: It's a top-four position, without a doubt, that's what I'm expecting. To win the championship of course is the icing on the cake but I'm not for one minute saying: 'Yeah we're going to win the league'.

The first conversation I had with the players at pre-season training, I spoke to them all as a group and said: 'There are four or five players that have come into this club, between them they have won a total of about 12-14 trophies, whether it was leagues or cups, and in a lot of peoples' eyes that made us favourites, but we have got to earn that right.'

JT: I think I'm going to be reticent in terms of giving predictions, but my hope is what it has been for pre-season. If we can go into games and we can finish the season with people knowing what our identity is, how we play, what type of side we are and what type of characters we are, then that's really the first thought.

Performance for me this season is more important than result; if we can develop and build and work on how we play, the results will come.

I have a target in my own head and I have ambition but we just want to be competitive in every game we play, be capable of beating any side we play, but play our way.

JG: Win the league! Pete [Thorne, chairman] said to me the other day if we stay up on the last day of the season by a goal or by a point, it doesn't matter to us, and he's right.

Ultimately the aim is to stay up, but I'd be lying if I said I'd be happy with that because there are teams that are going up with us that I'm think we're better than and we're better equipped than they are.

I'd love to have a couple of upsets, I'd love to have another half-decent cup run, and I'd love to obviously finish as high as possible.

What are you looking forward to?

SM: The cut and thrust of the local derbies, like the Penzance's, the Wendron's, the Falmouth's. I like the rivalry, I'm a huge fan of the rivalry and I think it's going to be really good, particularly for Cornish football, and I'd like to think we could probably get some bigger gates, but I'm just looking forward to the excitement of playing local sides.

And winning football matches, there is no better feeling at all than winning football matches. It sets up your whole weekend, sets up your whole week, it keeps building the momentum.

JT: Definitely the derby matches. I think from the Tuesday night game when we played Helston you could just feel there was a buzz again. All the Porthleven old boys and the supporters and even the guys at the club all knew that even though it was a friendly game, it was back to what it should be.

JG: I'm looking forward to building on what we've done over the last year. I can't wait for our first game under floodlights, and to manage Wendron in the first game under floodlights is going to be a real honour.

I'm looking forward to having Saltash, Falmouth, St Austell here and the big crowd. There's lots of things this year that I'm really excited about and I can't wait for next Saturday now.

What games are you most looking forward to?

AW: I'm really excited about having the Cornwall sides back in. I love going down to Penlee Park at Penzance so that's a game I'm looking forward to. I've always really enjoyed going to Liskeard, I'm just looking forward to going to grounds that we haven't been to for a while.

I love St Blazey, I know we lost the League Cup final up there last season but their set-up is really great. I'm looking forward to Gala Parc at Porthleven, I used to play for them so I've got a soft spot for them.

SM: Until the game against Porthleven I would have said the Falmouth games, particularly because of my history, with being an ex-Falmouth manager. I feel there's been disrespect shown, I did major amounts for that football club and it's just been pooh-poohed and washed over.

It doesn't matter who you play, Boxing Day is always the football day of the year. I have no doubt that all fans everywhere and managers and players are always thinking: 'who have we got on Boxing Day?' It's always a fixture that is really appealing just in itself, but the fact it's going to be Porthleven, and we never did ourselves justice at all [in their pre-season defeat to Port].

JG: Falmouth. Charlie [Davis, Falmouth coach] and I are really good friends and Westy [Westgarth] and I have become good friends as a result of that link. It'd be nice to get one over Charlie and Westy, but make no bones about it, we're underdogs for that one.

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Who will win the league?

AW: I think you can't look past Saltash in my opinion. They haven't lost anybody of any note and they've added quality. I think they're going under the radar at the moment, I think too many teams are talking about Helston and Mousehole and not many are mentioning Saltash. Their side has been together a good four or five years now and they've been consistently there or thereabouts.

If anyone finishes above Saltash they will win the league.

SM: I think straight away there will be teams who would fancy themselves for a chance at the title. St Austell, Falmouth, I think they've been quietly putting things together up at Launceston, Porthleven will no doubt think they can push higher now with the victories they had in pre-season.

Saltash are probably going to be favourites just purely because they kept their sides and made two or three very good improvements and I think they'll be very strong.

JT: Personally I had a spell down Mousehole in the season before last and although there's been a lot of change down there, their philosophy has remained. Given what Jake Ash [manager] has achieved, for me they're the side that I think will be right up there.

Them and Saltash, they're the two sides. Matt Cusack [Saltash manager] is, for me, the most accomplished coach/manager that we've got in this league.

JG: I think Mousehole have got to be considered as strong contenders. I think the set-up down there and the resources they've got and having Jake Ash in is a big plus for them.

I had exposure to Saltash last year and they looked a cut above anything we've played before so I would suggest that Saltash are going to be there or thereabouts.

I'd like to see Falmouth do well apart from against us, and obviously Helston are very ambitious and making inroads in being a successful side, but I would imagine it to be between Saltash and Mousehole.

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Dark horse?

AW: I think it has to be Newquay, Macca [Tony MacKellar] has done a great job there.

SM: I think with St Austell being written off after the fiasco of Lee Hodges and [Chris] Todd moving on, I think they'll be dark horses. Launceston, I think they're going to be strong, and I look at our game on Wednesday night at Newquay, who could be a dark horse.

JT: Newquay have done very well in pre-season in terms of who they have brought in. I haven't seen them play so I don't know how they play, but I'd say they've got a good chance of doing better than people expect, although most people have cottoned on to how good they're going to be.

JG: I'd like to think that we'll cause a few upsets this year, I think St Dennis will no doubt cause few upsets as well as they can do and have done in the past. You could argue Mousehole would be dark horses, but let's go with us.

Top scorer?

AW: Ryan Richards, he's going to be there or thereabouts, Liam [Eddy] and Goldy [Mark Goldsworthy] will be there I guess, and if the boy [James] Lorenz goes back to Liskeard or whatever he's going to do, he might surprise a few people, but I'd put Ryan down.

A fit Matt Bucks [Buchan] and an available Jack Bowyer have always got a chance.

SM: I'd like to think that we would have a couple of the favourites in Edds and Goldy. I think Ryan Richards has lost none of his enthusiasm from what I saw in the Charity Bowl when he grabbed a hat-trick there and he'll certainly be around the top.

JT: I'm a big fan of Goldy. Don't get me wrong, in different teams with different service it depends how the team plays, but Goldy scores goals everywhere he goes and he's one of them players you don't have to give much of the ball for him to win you the game. My money is on Goldy or Ryan Richards.

JG: One of the lads from Saltash, Ryan Richards and Sam Hughes, I imagine they'll be up there. I know Liam Eddy has picked up an injury but Goldy or Eddy would be up there, but one of the lads from Saltash I would have thought.

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One to watch in your team?

AW: Young Sammy Pickup and Reuben Talbot are ones to watch. Sammy's had a couple of seasons with the first team now so this could be a breakthrough season for him and young Reuben who has had a great pre-season for us. He is still 16 and has plenty of time but he is definitely one to watch.

SM: I think Alex Wharton is going to have a big season. I think Kai Cornish has got better and better, I think he's going to have a really good season.

I think George Roberts at left-back, he's just got better and better because he's playing week in, week out and he's really starting to look like a very good footballer.

If Alfie Flack can get a run of games where he isn't picking up little niggles then he'll just get better and better.

Neil Slateford is one I'm really excited about and looking forward to, he's probably been our best player in pre-season.

Finally, I must say Scott Beattie; I thought he battered Falmouth when he came on, they couldn't cope with him at all and had a good old battle against Truro City.

JT: We've got some good boys and we're not a one-man team but the way Kyle Fraser has taken to pre-season, he is looking sharp and he's got a lot of potential.

JG: Ben Ringrose gets a lot of plaudits and a lot of people come up to me and say what a superb player he is.

I think Dan Quirke is going to turn a few heads this year, but the one for me is Reece Carroll, who started in our fourth team and has just developed on and off the pitch and has turned into a really good left-back.

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