LLOYD Irish celebrated his 250th appearance for Taunton Town on Saturday, and it is clear that the Peacocks stalwart has plenty he still wants to achieve at the Viridor Stadium.

Irish initially spent two seasons with Taunton – 2008/09 and 2009/10 – after coming through the youth ranks at Yeovil Town, before four seasons at Weston-super-Mare.

He came back to Wordsworth Drive via Tiverton Town and Bideford, and since his homecoming in October 2014 he hasn’t looked back.

An ever-present between the posts, his consistency has been an invaluable asset to the Peacocks as they have transformed themselves from also-rans to title favourites.

Game number 250 brought a 4-0 victory over Bishops Cleeve, and as it stands Town have a nine-point lead at the top of Evo-Stik Southern League West.

Irish told the County Gazette: “It was more important to get the win [than the clean sheet], but of course it’s nice to reach that milestone for your hometown club.”

He has seen dramatic changes at the club, experienced cup runs, promotion challenges and playoff heartache, but it’s clear he has enjoyed the ride.

“When Taunton came in for me [after leaving Weston], it was a no-brainer to come back,” he said.

“I’ve loved it, and I hope to spend many more years here.

“When Leigh [Robinson] took over as manager, the club was down at the bottom of the league.

“He and [chairman] Kevin Sturmey have really pushed the club up, on and off the pitch, and now we hope to get promotion.”

Irish also praised goalkeeping coach Paul Edwards, with whom he has developed a brilliant relationship, and the supporters who cheer the team on.

“Paul has been a massive help to me.

“When times have been bad and I’m not playing well, he picks me up, and we’re really good friends now as well.

“As the club has improved, so has the fanbase.

“There are familiar faces who have been here for 10 years, but also new ones, and the atmosphere is great.

“If we can get promoted, hopefully even more fans will come.”

In terms of highlights, Irish has fond memories of a goal that he scored at home to North Leigh in December 2015.

His free-kick from 20 yards inside his own half took a lively bounce to beat his opposite number, helping Town win the game 2-1.

Then of course there was last season’s run to the FA Cup first round proper.

Irish said: “The cup run gave us a bit of fame and was great for the club.”

The Peacocks have built on that success this campaign, sitting at the league summit and (touch wood) on course to go up – so what has made the difference after three years of play-off scrambles?

“We have a lot more experienced players, who have been at Conference level,” says Irish.

“That helps massively; we’ve always had good players, but not ones who have won things, so we’ve not quite got over the line [in the playoffs].

“This season has been amazing.

“I’ve been looking at the league table since November and it’s a great feeling.

“We said at the start of the season that we have to get promotion, but now we need to win the league given where we are.”

Should the Peacocks go up, Irish will be a key part of their plans going forward – and he has no plans to go elsewhere.

That’s despite him regularly being linked with near-neighbours Tiverton Town, where brother Owen now plays.

“There has been the temptation [to move] in the past, especially when friends go to other clubs,” Irish added.

“But my heart is at Taunton, and staying here is the best decision I could have made.

“I don’t see myself playing anywhere else.”