WHEN Barnstaple Town came up against Willand Rovers in the Les Phillips Cup final in May 2015, manager Barry Yeo admitted James Blake “murdered” his team.
The striker got two goals for Willand who lifted the trophy after a 3-0 win.
At that stage Barum were still a Toolstation Western League First Division side.
Now they are a level above Willand, preparing for Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South and West.
They will also be doing that with Blake on their books, after Yeo swooped to sign the sought-after frontman.
“We had heard about him before that cup final but he didn’t do much in the first half,” said Yeo. “In the second half he came alive and absolutely murdered us.
“It was something that stuck with me.
“I made sure to remind the defenders of that the next time we played against him.
“He completely suits our style of play, he will get chances to score, is a hard-worker and a top guy as well.”
Blake failed to score in three games against Barnstaple last season but did net 20 goals in 38 appearances for Willand as they finished sixth in the Toolstation Premier Division.
He is also said to have turned down a host of other clubs – and bigger wage packets – to move to Mill Road.
“I know there were clubs after him and rightly so as he is a top-quality player,” said Yeo. “We just hoped it didn’t boil down to money and thankfully it didn’t, so credit to the lad.
“He texted us to say he loved what we had to say to him and he definitely wanted to give it a go and that he was buzzing for it. It is a big coup for us.”
Blake is the second summer signing at Barnstaple, following defender Craig Allan.
With important business done early, Yeo admitted there may not be much more transfer activity this summer.
“Never say never, but hand on heart we aren’t chasing anyone else,” said Yeo. “Craig Allan was one we desperately wanted to get done and it just felt like we needed one more to give us a bit of a boost and a bit more competition.
“This gives everyone a lift because he is a cracking lad and it gives us a chance of really going on and competing in that league.”