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Mark Saunders backing Tiverton to fare well

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 03, 2013

By Howard Lloyd

Mark Saunders

Mark Saunders

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Former Tiverton Town manager Mark Saunders has tipped the Yellows to lift the Southern League Division One South & West title this season.

An eventful summer at Ladysmead has seen director John Clarkson take the manager's position Saunders held until March this year and invest heavily in a new squad.

Many have tipped Tivvy to challenge for promotion, and Saunders – who last week became player-assistant manager at Richard Pears' Exmouth Town – feels that the heavy investment in the squad sees the Yellows start as title favourites.

"You would have thought they will win the league this season, especially when you look at the amount of money they are chucking around," he said.

"They have brought in a lot of players so they should be right up there. You only have to look at how well we started last season to see what it takes to do well in that league – we were top just before Christmas.

"So, considering how much they have spent and the people they've brought in, they should be doing very well.

"Good luck to them and I really do wish them all the best – I just hope they do look at the bigger picture. Can they keep it up season after season?"

Saunders – who will be joined at Exmouth by Kevin Hill in a player-coach role – also revealed more details regarding the events of last season.

After a bright start which saw them lead the standings before Christmas, Tivvy endured a dismal 18-match winless run.

Saunders quit alongside assistant manager Hedley Steele, but he claims the club's failure to boost their firepower over Christmas cost them dear.

"We were doing very well until we got to Christmas and needed to bring in a couple of players," said Saunders, who confirmed new Willand Rovers boss Scott Rogers had approached him about a role at Silver Street.

"There were a couple that I had my eye on and would only have added a couple of hundred a month to the wage bill, but the chairman said 'no'.

"They were both strikers – we just did not have the depth in front of goal that we needed."

Mo Hopkins is John Clarkson's new assistant manager at Tiverton Town, filling the gap left by Richard Hancox's surprise resignation last month.

Hopkins was head of youth at Yeovil Town and also enjoyed a stint managing Bristol Rovers' under-18 and under-16 sides before a brief spell as first team manager's assistant.

And Clarkson revealed that it was the combination of enthusiasm and experience which set him apart from the 11 other candidates who applied for the role.

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