Barton Athletic were the only side to make the step up to the TCSSDFL Premier Division following the aborted 2019/20 campaign and they could be one of the teams to watch out for.

Barton had been unbeaten in Division One last season, having brought in a number of players from Watcombe’s 2013/14 quadruple-winning side including Michael Fieldhouse, Pete Summerfield and Lewis Woodmore.

Club secretary Dave Rich said, “We had an influx of Watcombe players from the past and the first team was based around them. We’ve also just signed a few Waldon players.”

Brian Doughty is one of the former Waldon players confirmed as a recent signing and the club are actively looking to bring in more experienced local players before the season starts on September 5.

Given this strength and experience, could Barton even lift the Premier Division trophy?

A more recent ambition of the club is to use football to benefit youth mental health.

Rich said: “We did a mental health charity event last year to raise money for the funeral of a young gentleman from our team who committed suicide. We raised around £6,500 through a football tournament and raffle and were due to do the same this year but Covid happened and we weren’t allowed. “We are looking to do this most years and give money to mental health charities or possibly to the Acorn Centre so that they can build something towards mental health there.”

Anyone interested in working with Barton on mental health projects should call David Rich on 07838 372034.

Barton are due to kick off their Premier Division campaign at home to Meadowbrook Athletic on September 5.

Barton’s reserve side plays in Division Two and is managed by Calvin Bergin with assistance from Dave Rich. The team includes many former Watcombe Reserve and third team players and, as luck would have it, Watcombe Reserves are their first opponents of the season on September 12.

With clubs more reliant on support than ever following Covid-19, Rich expressed thanks to local sponsors Inter-Line Building Supplies and Mama’s Dessert Kitchen.

There was plenty of pre-season action this week, although much of it was still behind closed doors.

A number of Premier teams tested themselves against higher opposition from the Devon Football League: Broadmeadow STFC kicked off their pre-season campaign away at Watcombe Wanderers last Wednesday, losing 5-1.

On Saturday, Luke Perring scored again for Watts Blake Bearne in a 1-1 draw with Liverton.

Elsewhere, East Allington United travelled to Winslade Park and lost out 1-0 to Clyst Valley while Newton Abbot ‘66 were narrowly beaten 4-3 by Ottery St Mary.

New Premier team The Windmill FC scored four in the second half to beat St Piran East League hosts Lanreath 4-2.

Buckfastleigh Rangers had been due to host another of the TCSSDFL new boys, Elburton Villa Reserves, but the game was called off at the last minute due to the weather.