Josh Robins announces decision to leave Tavistock AFC Long-serving defender wants regular first team football
LONG-SERVING full-back Josh Robins says it is with a very heavy heart that he has decided to leave Tavistock, ending his 13-year association with the club.
The 29-year-old, who will remain signed on with the club in case of emergencies, first signed for the Lambs as a 16-year-old and has been virtually ever present as the club have gone from being a South West Peninsula League outfit to the top half of the Southern League Division One South under the management of Stuart Henderson. This season, though, Robins has been in and out of the first team and his desire for regular football has led to him making the decision to move away from Langsford Park.
“There is a core of about six or seven of us who have gone up through the leagues and been there for eight or nine years and it has been one hell of a journey,” Robins said. “Tavi are clearly moving up through the leagues and it’s been good to see things behind the scenes and the infrastructure of the club moving in the right direction. I leave with a very heavy heart, but I wish all the boys all the very best in what they do and hopefully they can succeed and do what we set out to do at the start of the season.
“As a team and a squad, I can’t fault anyone. They are an unbelievable set of lads and those six or seven of us that have been there for the last eight years have made really good friendships, but I will 100 per-cent stay in contact with everyone in that squad.
“I will meet them all for a pint – Stu as well, there are absolutely no bad feelings at all – this is purely a personal reason. I felt myself falling out of love with football and I wasn’t really enjoying it.”
Robins was already at the club when Henderson arrived having played for the second team at 16 and locally for Bere Alston. It was when Ian Southcott contacted him at the age of 18 that his long association with the club really began, though.
“I signed for Tavi Seconds when I was about 16 or 17 as I felt I wasn’t quite ready at the time for the physical side of it for the level we were at and moved on to Bere Alston,” Robins said. “I did a season at Bere Alston, just to get some experience of men’s football and then, when I was 18, I had a phone call from Ian Southcott, who was manager of Tavistock at the time, to say he wanted to get me involved with the first team and I made the decision to move to Tavistock.
“Ten years on, here we are and I never looked back really. It has been an incredible journey and I have been there every step of the way, seen several managers come in and out of the door, God knows how many players have come in and out. It’s been an incredible journey, especially the last seven or eight years under Stu and with firstly Ken (Ord) and the new lads who have come in, Darren (Spong), Kracy (Shane Krac) and various other people. It has been a really special eight years.”
However, the higher Tavi have gone, the more players have to commit, especially to matches away from home. Away games are no longer in other parts of Devon, as they were in the Peninsula League, the South West region, nor as they were in the Western League. Now, Tavi are taking on teams based in places like Southampton, and Gloucestershire which are not easy to get to when you hold down a full-time job as well as look after a young family.
“I don’t regret anything, but it is a huge commitment when you are working and then having to go for a game in Southampton, or north of Bristol, especially with a young family as well,” Robins added. “If I come home and haven’t played, I’m moody and it wasn’t fair on me or anyone else and it could have rubbed off in my football as well.
“A few of the lads have said they can see I’m unhappy and I said I want to play, I’m a footballer, I love my football and I’ve played consistently in the starting XI for ten years. Maybe this season was a reality check for me being in and out of the team and not getting as many minutes. I am getting on, I am not getting any younger and I feel I am at a time in my life where I need to be out playing consistent first team football because it’s what I work for and what I work towards.
“Full credit to Stu because he has brought in some incredible players and I don’t discourage any of them – I love them all to pieces. Maybe my performances haven’t been up to scratch this season, but I am a confidence player and I need to be playing week in, week out to build my confidence.
“When I am being chopped and changed, it is hard to build momentum but, listen, we could talk about excuses and reasons all day, I just want to concentrate on myself, get my buzz for football back and start enjoying it again.”
So what now for Robins? There can have been fewer more consistent left-backs in non-league circles than him who are defensively sound and offer a real threat with his superb delivery from the left.
“All good things come to an end and I feel now, this is the right time for me personally to take a step back, go and find my love for football again and start a new beginning somewhere else,” he added.
“Football is a short career and I probably have four or five years left in me at a good level and I want to fulfil my career by playing at a good level, so I would be happy to join a team in the Western League, for example, because the travel wouldn’t bother me as long as I was getting regular first team football.
“Money isn’t an issue for me and it never has been. It does not bother me at all. My job is my bread and butter and pays my bills, the money I make from football is beer tokens really. if I could play 90 minutes every week, then I’d pay to play.”
Everyone at Tavistock is saddened to hear Josh’s decisions, but understands his reasons and we wish him every success with his next move. We would also like to remind Josh and his family that they will always be welcome at Langsford Park.
Once a Lamb, always a Lamb…