Captain explains toughness of adapting to a whole new ball game

Whittlesey Athletic captain Harry Jenkins (right) believes not all of his side's results this season have been down to...

Whittlesey Athletic captain Harry Jenkins (right) believes not all of his side's results this season have been down to adapting to Covid-19 measures, but they have certainly not been easy. Picture: DANIEL MASON - Credit: Archant

The captain of Whittlesey Athletic FC said it has been “extremely difficult” to cope with some of the challenges affecting his side’s season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Harry Jenkins never expected to play again before Christmas after a second lockdown was enforced last month, which halted non-league and grassroots football for four weeks.

“I must admit, until the news came out, I thought there was no chance of playing before Christmas,” he said.

“As a player with my football brain on, it’s brilliant that we get to play and back doing the things we love doing. Did I expect it? Not at all.”

Whittlesey lie 12th in United Counties League Division One, picking up 14 points from 11 games which includes five draws, having gone on a five-game unbeaten run.

It’s a solid return at a level they returned to for the 2019-20 campaign, but Jenkins believes this start could have been improved.

“There have been some challenges, particularly with the communication side,” he admitted.

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“If you wanted to display your tactics and formations, it’s hard to do it without a whiteboard and being six inside together at a time.

“We’re lucky the team has been together for quite a while with a couple of additions this year, that we know what Rick (Hailstone) expects and our game plan most games, so we’ve got a slight advantage.”

Without a half-time team talk as a full squad, Jenkins believes this may have proved a part in how the players have reacted in the second-half, especially after taking a lead.

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It’s unclear whether the full season will be completed due to the four-week hiatus, as Whittlesey aim to resume at home to Irchester United on Saturday, December 12, 3pm.

Despite a return to the sport he loves, it has never been the same for Jenkins, but on the other hand, it is better than nothing.

“When you play the 90 minutes, you think ‘great, we’re back’ but at the end, you look around and think it’s not the same,” he said.

“You can’t go to the pub and have a beer together, can’t do this or that. It is great you’re playing football and with the boys, but it’s not the same.

“Our results are not based just from team talks. Some of them have been from poor performances and some wins have been from good performances, but it certainly feels that it’s had an effect on our results this season.”