Pegasus hoping to fly high

Before the season had started, Stanway Pegasus had hopes of winning the Premier Division of the Essex & Suffolk Border League as they sought promotion to the Eastern Counties League. “Our ambition for the season is to win the league. It’s as simple,” said Ray Turner, the First Team Coach. “And with the winning mentality of myself, the owner Ian Booth and the players, our target wouldn’t be anything else.”

Although they had hoped to find themselves top at this stage of the season, Pegasus sat 3rd having played two-games less than the leaders Gas Recreation and 3-games behind Colne Athletic. They had began the season with a victory over Barnston before they faced a defeat against Tiptree Heath. The first defeat of the season was soon out of their mind as they 6-game unbeaten run; beating Hatfield Peverel, Great Bentley, White Notley, Flitch United and Earls Colne and drawing with Dedham Old Boys before they faced their second defeat of the season as they were beaten by Sudbury Sports. Their last game of 2020 had ended in victory as they beat second-placed Colne Athletic. For Ray, it was a pleasing start to the season but they still had plenty of work to do in order to achieve promotion.

“It has been an alright start to the season for us. We’ve had some decent performances and some not so decent, but we are in a good position in a difficult league.”

Along with the calibre of sides in the league, the season was made tougher by the stopping and starting due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. The 2020/21 season was certainly a unique one but clubs were hoping not to have the same disappointing end to the 2019/20 season, when non-league was declared null & void. “Struggles this season have been the situation with COVID. Fingers crossed we can all get through it soon. I wouldn’t say their has been any highlights after just 10-games or even after we have played 20. We will be judged after the final game of the season and see where we are. I don’t want us to celebrate too early or get carried away during the season after a win or loss.”

Although he didn’t want to get carried away after just 10-games of the season, there was no doubt that Stanway Pegasus sat in a very promising position. With their games in-hand, they could find themselves level with Gas Recreation while also opening a 7-point gap over Colne Athletic. Though Turner didn’t want to look to much into the table. “Our last game against Colne Athletic was tough and we came up against a lot of old friends so it was pleasing to get the win. In regards to our league position or any teams position at this stage of the season is not so important. We will see where we are at the end of the season.”

Gas Recreation sat 2-places ahead of Stanway and 6-points ahead but they remained within touching distance and two-wins would see them go level at the top with goal-differences separating them. Ray wanted to remain competitive with a top side. “Gas [Rec] are a top side and have been at Step-7 for a long time. They know the league well, have a great squad and good people involved at the club. We look forward as always to challenge them and other good teams in the league.”

The lockdowns imposed on the United Kingdom by the Government to stop the spread of the virus didn’t help their cause but he knew the health of everyone was far more important than the game. “The lockdowns have been extremely difficult for everyone. I can’t see that they have helped anyone positively in terms of football, but obviously the safety of everyone is the most important thing!”

Like everyone involved in the game, he was hopeful they would get the chance to resume the season and fight for the title but it was a huge ask. For Ray, football was more than just a sport as it brought many emotions. Many would have agreed with his love for the game at the lower levels. “I hope when we return, we can get back to some kind of normality and getting back to enjoying the game we all love. The game that brings us all so many highs and lows, the butterflies in the stomach, making us feel alive. All football people know the buzz football can bring you.”

If they were to return, the players would have had to maintain their fitness over the lockdown period but with clubs in the unknown, it was difficult to know how to keep fit. That was made even tougher with the fact they could train together. “We are in constant contact with the players and they know we are always available for them to contact us” he said. “They know it’s important to keep fit and do their own bits. Football has changed slightly over the years and it’s all about six-packs now whereas there were a few pop bellies when I started playing men’s football.”

Although there was some uncertainty around football, Turner had his ambitions firmly in focus beyond this season. “AsĀ  a manager, my target is to continue to improve and move with the club up the non-league pyramid. We have great people involved in the club from the chairman Chris Powell to the committee, who are all proper football people and cover all the bases on what it takes to progress. Ian Booth is the driving force behind what we have planned for the future. Right now, I am very happy to be his right-hand man and we are all excited at Pegasus with the ambitions we have. It’s all in place and although we have been slightly delayed by COVID, big things will happen. We are growing from the bottom with all the youth teams starting from the Under 6’s and building strong foundations. Our youth section has grown massively in such a short space of time and will continue to grow which we are extremely proud of. They are the future [of the club].”