Bideford adapting to travel demands in Evo-Stik League Southern
THE TRIP to Chippenham Town on Saturday is a chance for Bideford to show they are getting over their travel sickness.
With just one win in the Evo-Stik League Southern this season, the Robins have the worst away record in the premier division.
Contrast that to their excellent home form and fans are left wondering why there is such a difference.
Manager Sean Joyce does not want to blame the long journeys but as he says, they are bound to play a part.
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Without the financial resources to book overnight stays, Bideford have regularly made 400-mile round trips in one day.
"It's no excuse but when you're sitting on a coach for six or seven hours, it's going to affect you," said Joyce.
"Win, lose or draw it's back on the coach again for another six hours on the way back.
"The only win we have had this year was at Frome on Boxing Day and we have gone in cars."
It says everything about the demands on Bideford that the 105-mile journey to Frome Town in Somerset is actually their 'local' derby.
The signs are, though, that they are gradually coming to terms with the demands of the long journeys.
Before Christmas, Kevin Squire scored in the 1-1 draw at Barwell in Leicestershire.
And despite another goal from Squire, they were unfortunate to lose 2-1 at Leamington, a team hotly tipped to win the premier division.
Plenty of away teams arrive at the Sports Ground with gripes about the time it has taken them to reach North Devon.
For them, it is a once-a-season effort but for Bideford, the mileage must be done every other week.
"It's worth it for the standard of football that you want to play," said Joyce.
"It's unique really, for a North Devon team to compete at this level."
One of the main issues for the players is being able to get time off work for the early starts.
Already this season, they have faced away matches at Banbury United and AFC Totton on Tuesday nights.
The weather has not helped and recent postponements mean there are further Tuesday trips to come at Arlesey Town on March 5 and Redditch on April 9.
"We have got 13 weeks and 18 league games and one cup game to get in," said Joyce.
"It's going to be a tough work load.
"It would be all right if we were playing in the Western League because you're playing locally. At this level, they are full days."