South West Peninsula appeals to Elmore
Elmore are set to end their 33-year association with the Western League at the end of the season, having put in a formal request to join the South West Peninsula League.
The Eagles have applied to enter at Premier Division level, which is step six on the non-League football ladder and the same at which they currently play in the Western League First Division.
Manager Pete Buckingham believes that the facilities in the Peninsula League are much better than their Western League equivalents, and that is one of the reasons they have decided to apply.
"I have been a player and a manager in the Western League for 30 years and beyond," said Buckingham. "I managed Bideford in the 1990s for six seasons, I did Elmore for nine. I went to Barnstaple for three and Willand for one. I then went to Cullompton [in the Peninsula League], because I wanted a change and I have to say I was impressed with the facilities of the Peninsula League.
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"The League has grown in stature. The ground facilities are way beyond what I'm experiencing in the Western League First Division."
Elmore chairman Jed Hewitt added that the Peninsula League is better suited to Elmore in terms of travel. In the Peninsula League Premier Division, Elmore would face Cullompton, Bovey Tracey and Witheridge, as well as a number of other Devon sides.
"Geographically speaking, we would have more local teams to play," said Hewitt. "In Division One of the Western League, we are the only Devon side. A lot of our journeys are Bristol-orientated. Going into the Peninsula League brings in sides like Cullompton, Witheridge, Bovey Tracey and Exmouth – if they get promoted.
"Obviously, there is travelling to Cornwall, we appreciate that, but there is less travelling overall and more local derbies."
Elmore joined the Western League Division One in 1978, winning promotion to the Premier Division in 1991 with a second-placed finish.
However, having been relegated back to the First Division in 2004, Elmore have not been able to get above tenth place and, with travel costs increasing, Hewitt admitted it was time for a change for the Eagles.
"I'm fairly confident our gates will be bigger as well," he said. "When you look at the gates on the Peninsula League website, they are generally higher than in the Western League."
If, as expected, Peninsula League side Plymouth Parkway apply to join the Western League Premier Division, Elmore's decision to join the Peninsula League will not alter the relegation issues from the division they are joining.