CHIPPENHAM Town manager Mike Cook is immensely proud of his team’s achievements this year but says getting knocked out of the two cups late on in 2021 was “rubbish.”

Just shy of two years in charge of the Bluebirds, Cook reflected on an up and down 2021 that saw Chippenham finish 16th in a heavily-disrupted 2020-21 campaign before starting the current National League South term in flying form.

More recently, the Bluebirds recovered from a 4-1 mauling away at local rivals Bath City on Boxing Day to thump Hungerford Town 3-0 in midweek and boost themselves up to seventh in the league.

Reflecting back on another strange year due to the interventions of Covid, Cook was mostly very pleased with what his team has been able to do – aside from one obvious area.

He said: “I’m very, very proud of this year – the only slight negative is that we haven’t been any good in the cups.

“Getting knocked out of them has been rubbish because we always want a bit of a cup run and it generates some money for the club.

“That’s probably the most disappointing thing from the start of this season – the cup games and the performances. I don’t mind losing, but when we play like a bunch of idiots, it grinds on me.

“We didn’t play very well against Hastings, but we played really well against Uxbridge. Apart from those two games, I’m really proud of the group.”

The coming year should hopefully provide the non-league pyramid with a satisfying conclusion – each team should be able to complete their league programme, and if they do that will give Chippenham the chance to achieve Cook’s short-term goal.

If the Bluebirds are to remain in the top 10, holding on to a pair of key loanees could prove pivotal. Swindon Town’s Ricky Aguiar and Harry Parsons have netted five goals each in 11 and six games, respectively – an obvious catalyst behind Chippenham’s recent upturn in form.

Cook said: “I would love to achieve a top-10 finish. We’re seventh at the moment, but I think it will be a stretch to stay there with our squad.

“Going to Hungerford the other day, they had 23 players in the squad to choose from, and we had 13.

“The two loans go back to Swindon Town next week, but we’re hoping to extend them if we possibly can.

“It will be a stretch to do that, but if we could keep them and finish in the top 10, I would be more than pleased.”