PROMOTION to the Southern League Premier Division should hold no fear for Taunton Town, either in terms of the step-up in quality or any extra travelling required.
That’s the view of striker Matt Wright, who has nothing but enthusiasm for the Peacocks squad sitting second in Division 1 South & West.
There’s no ‘managing expectations’ from Wright – that job falls to others at the club, with plenty of work still to be done this season – only a genuine sense of a player really enjoying his football at the Viridor Stadium.
He has been forced to sit out Town’s last two matches with a neck injury but, having seen a chiropractor, he says it feels much better and he “should be back in the mix” for Saturday’s trip to Larkhall Athletic.
His absence has allowed Jordan Rogers to overtake him as the club’s top scorer this season but, for Wright, each goal is now a bonus.
“I’ve scored 26 goals,” he said. “I set myself a target of 20, so I’ve surpassed that with games still to go.
“I’ve enjoyed my football the most I’ve enjoyed it for a good couple of years now.
“I’m playing with a great bunch of lads, great manager, backroom staff, the chairman loves the team and the club, which shows, and it’s brilliant to play with a squad that’s so close-knit,” he added.
“You can see that on the pitch – 22 games and we’ve lost one ... when you enjoy your football it [shows] in the results.
“So far it’s been a great season, and if we could win the playoffs, what a season that would be.
“First round of the FA Cup and promotion – you couldn’t ask for much more.”
Having played at clubs like Salisbury City, Truro City and Pitea IF in Sweden, Wright has plenty of experience in the game, but reckons the Peacocks' fans are something special.
“The fans are brilliant, there’s a great away support as well, they follow us everywhere – even Didcot on a Tuesday night, getting back at God knows what time.”
“They sing through most of the games. I love it, and I’ve got a great relationship with them.
Yet more enjoyment has come in captaining the side, as he has deputised for Brett Trowbridge when called upon.
“I’ve loved it,” Wright said. “It’s the first ever time I’ve captained a team, and I was quite proud.
“I think the first game was Hemel Hempstead away in the FA Cup.
“Brett does such a good job – when we have our huddle he says his part – and I was so nervous.
“I’m the fines man, and before the game I didn’t even do the fines, I was so busy trying to think what to say!”
LEAP: Matt Wright's delight at scoring against Wimborne. Pic: Tim Norbury
As for the future, Wright only deals in positives when it comes to the possibility of going up – Town are 10 points off Hereford in the automatic promotion spot, but five points ahead of third-placed Tiverton Town, so they’re certainly on track for a playoff position.
Promotion to the Southern League Premier may mean more travelling for the squad, particularly tricky for midweek fixtures, and we’ll only know how many of the current group could commit to that if Town do succeed in going up.
But when I asked Wright how he felt about the prospect of longer trips, he replied: “It doesn’t bother me to be honest.
“For me, last year I was in the Conference South, so it wouldn’t be as much travelling as that even if we go up.
“I’m used to it – ever since I came out of school I’ve been travelling on Saturdays.
“I’m an hour away from here – I live in Plymouth – so whatever they’re doing, I’m doing an extra hour.
“I think me, Shane [White] and Ed [Palmer] from being at Truro City, we played on Tuesday nights away at Concord, Canvey Island, so I think we’re used to the travelling.”
He also has no doubts that the Peacocks are ready to play at a higher level, explaining: “I wouldn’t say any team has been on top of us really here – we beat Hereford away and I honestly think we’ll beat them at home as well.
“We’ve showed it this year in the FA Cup, playing Conference South teams and taking Barrow to a replay when at the time they were second in the Conference.
“We held our own [and] I don’t think this team realises how good they actually are,” he added.
“Sometimes, when we play against the lower teams in this league we get sucked down to their level a bit, so playing against better opposition I think it’s only going to bring out even more from this team.
“With one or two signings, maybe, to add a bit of depth, we’d more than hold our ground in the league above, 100 per cent.”