AFTER eight years of almost unparalleled success, Launceston College (LC) Phoenix have folded as a club.
Started by a bunch of Launceston College sixth-formers back in 2009 under the name of Phoenix Rising FC, success was instant as they won the league and cup double in the Kingsley League in their first ever campaign.
Realising that they wanted to join the Duchy League, the club moved from playing their home games at North Hill FC to the Launceston College Playing Fields, which is where they’ve been ever since, and changed their name to Launceston College Phoenix.
Since then, they have risen from Duchy Five all the way up to the Premier Division. They won the Division Four title in 2011/12, earned three promotions as runners-up and a third-placed promotion from Duchy Two in 2013/14.
Last year they competed in the Duchy Premier for the first time, and for long spells looked capable of winning the title, only for St Minver to run away with it in the end as Phoenix slid down to fourth.
Success often means that players want to test themselves at a higher level, and with Phoenix unable to apply for promotion to the East Cornwall League, player/manager Ryan Cox admitted that in the end the writing was on the wall.
Cox said: “We held our AGM a couple of weeks ago where we discussed the upcoming season and it was clear that we were going to struggle to get a team together having spoken to the players individually.
“A lot of the players, myself included, want to try and play Senior football (Step 8) as we feel like we’ve achieved pretty much all there is to do in the Duchy Leagues.
“The last thing we wanted is to be struggling to get a team together and having to forfeit on the odd occasion as that would have been embarrassing.
“We knew that as a club we weren’t going to be able to ever get into the East Cornwall League as our facilities aren’t good enough at the playing fields, as you have to meet a number of requirements.
“If we were ever going to get into that league, we’d have had to build our own ground and clubhouse etc and that was never going to happen. A lot of us now have full-time jobs where we can’t commit as much as time as we’d like too, and with Launceston seconds just up the road, it was the best option for everyone.”
In response the Duchy League issued the following statement:?“The Duchy League was extremely surprised and upset to receive the withdrawal notice from Launceston College Phoenix.
“They joined the league from the Kingsley League in 2010/11. They finished as runners-up in Division Five in their first season and went on to win the Division Four title the following year. They progressed steadily through the leagues until reaching the Premier Division in 2015/16. A fourth-placed finish was probably above their expectations in the season just gone.
“The club has always been made up of a small but very committed squad. Once it was known that a number of this squad was not going to be available for the coming season, their decision to withdraw was inevitable.
“Although disappointed that the club had to make this decision, the Duchy League respects their wishes and hopes that they can live up to their name and rise again from the ashes.”
Looking back on their time as a club, Cox admits that it was an incredible story for a group of friends to achieve.
Cox said: “It’s sad that we didn’t manage to reach ten years as a club as that would have meant a lot for a group of friends to have played together for that long.
“In the end a few of us, especially our secretary Jack Rich, were doing an incredible amount of work on the pitch, the admin side and so on.
“Obviously it was amazing of Launceston College to give us the chance to use their facilities free of charge but the quality of the pitches made it much harder for us. We’d often go and play at a club’s second team where we’d get the chance to play on a first-team pitch and the difference was a bit embarrassing at times, especially in the middle of winter when the pitches get really muddy.
“It’ll be nice to be able to turn up on a Saturday and focus solely on the football up at Launceston. About ten of us have been training up there during pre-season and hopefully we can help Launceston make sure they’re not fighting at the wrong end of the East Cornwall Premier.
“Obviously not all of us are going to get in the side and once the season starts I’m sure there’ll be some movement as players want too play, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Cox was quick to thank all who helped LC Phoenix during their existence, and heaped praised on a number of people.
Cox said: “There’s a whole list of people I’d like to thank. First of all I’d like to thank the college for their input. They didn’t charge us for anything really and without them it’d have been impossible.
“Secondly I’d like to thank Paul Martin for being the manager for the first six years and to Jack Rich who really was ‘Mr Phoenix’. Jack has done a tireless amount of work both on the ground and as a secretary, and without him, the problems which have crept up on us, would have been here a lot sooner.
“I’d also like to thank Jane Peake and Pam Greenaway at the White Hart Hotel. They’ve been great supporters to us over the years including helping us with sponsorship, providing food after games, hosting Christmas parties and presentation evenings.
“It’s incredibly sad that we’ve had to come to an end but a group of friends achieved an incredible amount.”