Football

Uwdi Krugg will be spending the 2016-17 season watching South West non league football, eating the wrong kind of food and having a bloody good moan.


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Elburton Villa 3 Dobwalls 3

Saturday 20th August 2016
South West Peninsula League Division 1 West
ELBURTON VILLA 3 DOBWALLS 3
Attendance: 20 (head count)
Admission: £3
Programme: Didn't produce one
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea £1
Weather: Blustery wind, odd sunny spell, a few rain showers
Parking: Club Car Park adjacent to Haye Road
Elburton is just a few miles east bound down the A379 from Plymouth City Centre. It seems a decent well presented suburb with a nice looking pub and a football club who seem to operate a good few teams under the Elburton Villa banner, there was actually a youth team game taking place involving Elburton on one of the adjoining pitches when the Match Shed got one of the last spaces on the top end car park. Good turn out of spectators too, it would turn out to be more than double the attendance of the SWPL first team game v Dobwalls.

The Match Shed had struggled to spot the flagged up roundabout turn-off for the ground as described in the splendid SWPL Club Handbook due to the fact that the Highways Agency had only just removed it? Or at least I think that's the case? The laborious temporary traffic lights and all the cones are still up but I missed the Haye Road turn off completely, which was supposed to be off the now missing roundabout, I had to double back into the traffic grid lock for another go at finding the ground. Good job I had a 30 minute delay factor built into the journey.

I'd stopped off en route to Elburton from Cornwall at the Plymouth Barbican for a quick snack and a drink at The Cog Wetherspoons establishment next to the Gin Distillery. Bought a bottle of the lovely Plymouth Gin from next door before returning to the Match Shed. It wasn't for the game just in case you're wondering. I love it down the Barbican, always a good vibe and such a great choice of restaurants and pubs.

Back at the ground the main hub of activity is the cosy small clubhouse, adjoining changing rooms, toilet block and small tea hut hatch. This resides alongside a larger secondary car park where the youth game was taking place. Just a short stride further down the car park is the main ground for the SWPL Elburton Villa side. I got a tea from the hut which came in a proper mug and took the opportunity to take in a bit of the youth game action.
The Tea Hut had a tasty looking line up of pasties in the pie warmer, they looked pretty good too, think they might be called Pilgrims Pasties as there was a sign up around the corner from the hut advertising them. I didn't get one (this time) as I'd had some dinner back at the Barbican.
It was only 3 quid admission to the ground and the first thing that strikes you is the superb playing surface for this level of football, the pitch looked a treat. There is a small white block covered enclosure adjacent to the entrance behind the goals, there is a nominal row of plastic seats afforded.
Down the left touchline is a lonely looking flat pack stand with some more seating facilities, at least it offers some protection from the elements.
That's about it structure wise, there are some trees at the far end of the ground with a further football pitch beyond, down the right hand touchline is a large wire mesh fence which stops the ball hurtling off into the trees and undergrowth. As seems to be the case with the SWPL grounds in general, it was all well kept for the most part, clean and tidy.
The match was a topsy turvy affair with initial Elburton supremacy before the much improved Dobwalls side took the lead against the run of play. The home side got level before the early period of the second half witnessed Dobwalls taking a firm grip of the proceedings, this turn around in possession saw the visitors take a 1-3 lead.
The game was unfortunately affected by a number of hefty looking injuries which seemed to disjoint the proceedings some what. A factor not helped by the referee taking such a long time in progressing general infringements during the game as a whole. 
I can always tell when a game is going to drag on when the official starts the game 5 minutes late for no good reason and then lags this on to the start of the second half increasing the lost time accumulation in the process. This is in addition and separate to the genuine down time which must rightly be afforded to treat player injuries. It just seemed that all the insignificant stoppages suffered from a lack of time management, grumble over. Anyway, Elburton ended up back in the mix and produced a 3-3 final result which was just about fair in respect of what went down on the pitch.
It was time to try and beat the Plymouth Argyle match traffic on the way back to the Tamar Bridge.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Tavistock 8 Ivybridge Town 0

Saturday 6th August 2016
South West Peninsula League Premier Division
TAVISTOCK 8 IVYBRIDGE TOWN 0
Attendance: 130
Admission: £5
Programme: £1 (oh dear)
Tea Hut Stuff: Coffee £1
Parking: Left car in the town centre and walked it
Weather: Dry mild afternoon with sunny intervals
The wife hates football. I've given her a nickname... Match Cow. She likes visiting the different locations when there's the chance of some decent shopping but that's as far as it gets. Last time I persuaded her to attend a game, she read a magazine, consumed a family bar of chocolate then fell asleep. So today Match Cow came along with me to the lovely market town of Tavistock just over the Devon border from Cornwall and I parked the Match Shed up in a reasonably priced 2 quid town centre car park. Match Cow shot off to the market with her shopping bags and I ambled down the pleasant River Tavy riverside walk towards Langsford Park.
 
The Lambs finished 3rd last season behind St Austell and champions Bodmin Town. Rumour had it that Tavistock could very well improve on that 3rd spot this time around. I was looking forward to checking them out in what was an attractive looking fixture against Ivybridge Town who ended the last campaign in 9th position.
 
Langsford Park is a modern looking set up with a big clubhouse set back in the club car park, the Red and Black Club. I had no time for foaming pints of local ale so I handed over my 5 pounds admission money and an extra pound for a colourful looking programme. I'm saving my OAP concession-buster disguise for night matches so I'm paying the full whack at the moment. That programme I've just praised turned out to be 2 sheets of A3 glossy paper with a couple of staples for good luck, inside was a match report from a recent friendly, the two squads for todays match, 3 full page adverts including cut price furniture and digger hire and a few generic match photo's without reference of who, what or where. Ok I only paid a quid for it but this really was a mickey take and took me back to a time when I simply stopped buying non league programmes because they were nothing more than a rip off. I'm hoping the rest of the SWPL clubs offer up publications a lot more enticing than this Tavistock effort.
The ground itself is dominated by the large changing room block alongside the halfway line, two identical small flat-pack stands rest alongside each other either side of the players entrance (tunnel), these offer decent seated views of the pitch which I took advantage of for the first half of the game. Across the pitch is another low level covered structure almost shipping container fashion in appearance, a few freestanding plastic chairs have been provided. The two dug outs are positioned either side.
About a third of the perimeter of the ground is out of bounds. The end nearest the clubhouse has a very shallow grass bank and just beside the corner flag resides the Tea Hut and a VIP bunker for cheese spread sandwiches, Mr Kipling french fancies and other half time niceties that club officials seem to like.
To be honest there is not a lot of character at the ground but what was I expecting... Roker Park or Maine Road, its not going to happen at the blunt end of the cash strapped football pyramid. I'll shut up about charismatic waffle and get on with it. The one thing I will state about Langsford Park is that it is absolutely spotless, prim and proper and immaculate in general presentation, this includes a very nice looking pitch and all of the perimeter. Some people are obviously putting in a great deal of effort here for such a spick and span appearance.
 
I loved the fact that the teams came out to the soundtrack of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, brilliant. Might be better saving the psychology for the likes of Bodmin Town, no disrespect to Ivybridge. Anyway, it obviously did the trick as the Clint Eastwood boys produced a Fistful of Dollars performance to totally blitz a workmanlike but bemused Ivybridge side. To utter statements like it could (and should) have been a cricket score can be taken as gross sensationalism but its the honest truth. I'm talking well more than 10 or 12 goals here, the chances Tavistock created and were either fluffed or miraculously saved were of a massive total, 8-0 is a very big score but Ivybridge got away lightly and certainly owe a round of applause for their keeper who tried his hardest to stop the tidal wave coming in.
It was a faultless performance, any intrusions from the visitors were immediately mopped up, the passing was fast and accurate, the speed of the approach play deadly impressive and the skilful turn of foot sublime, it was a rampaging bull of attacking entertaining football and a credit to non league football at this level.
To round everything off at the final whistle the tannoy blasted out the tune of Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, very apt indeed.
I had 15 minutes to get back to the Match Shed in the town centre before encountering the wrath of Match Cow. I just about made it following a performance that would have probably seen me qualify for the Rio Olympics Speed Walking Team. Saying that I was still overtaken by a warp-drive mobility scooter with an elderly chap wrapped in a big red and black Tavistock scarf. "8 nil will do won't it" I politely chirped up to him. "It will indeed" he replied, then he added " Bodmin will be quaking in their boots"! Hmm, not sure about the quaking expression but I trust it will be noted back in Cornwall... and what a match that will be when the two sides eventually face up to each other?
 
Well done Tavistock, really liked what I saw, you certainly deserve more than 130 spectators through the gate with sparkling football like that on offer.    

Monday, 1 August 2016

SWPL Charity Bowl Bodmin Town v St Austell

Sunday 31st July 2016
South West Peninsula League Charity Bowl
At Bodieve Park, Wadebridge Town FC
BODMIN TOWN 0 ST AUSTELL 0 (St Austell won 4-3 on penalties)
Attendance: 301 head count
Admission: £4
Tea Hut Stuff: Didn't get anything from the Burger Van, full already
Programme: £1
Weather: Lovely sunny afternoon with a gentle breeze
Parking: Directed to the on site parking field above the ground
I am planning to do a separate visit report for the Wadebridge ground as and when I get around to visiting it later in the season. These are just a few brief notes about the game. An encounter that matched two of the best sides in the South West Peninsula League who finished first and second in the Premier Division. Bodmin Town, the champions were aiming to add to the silverware fest they gathered up in last seasons famous treble.

Any illusions that this was just a polite charity day leg stretcher went out the window immediately after kick off. The rivals tore into each other as though the game was a title decider. Within 5 minutes St Austell had Liam Eddy sent off for a blatant off the ball revenge offence and hopes for a quality well balanced game more or less went down the tunnel with him.

St Austell quickly searched out Plan D and Bodmin huffed and puffed trying to break them down. It was a first half of multiple off side decisions as both sides failed to find rhythm or cohesion. Never have I seen so many niggles and feigned injuries in a non league match, the referee was faced with a La Liga type scenario with numerous players falling over like nine pins. The screams and shrieks resembled break time back at the school playground. I wasn't comfortable with the relentless attempts to get fellow players booked or dare I say it, sent off. Not something one normally sees on such a consistent basis at this level of what I like to think is 'proper football'.

Sure enough Bodmin were down to 10 men themselves just before the break as the beleaguered official rounded up the numbers, a very dubious sending off decision saw Steve Bowker trudge towards the dressing room. I suppose it evened up the proceedings for the second half though.
The final 45 minutes was competitive, tight and still a bit bad tempered. Consistency, quality and finishing were the victims. Bodmin had the greater number of chances and came mighty close to scoring but St Austell hit the woodwork from a wonderfully struck free kick and often pushed dangerously forwards on the break.

It all ended 0-0 after the 90 minutes and it was straight to penalties. St Austell were faultless and took the Charity Bowl 4-3 when Bodmin missed the net for the second occasion.

Despite the niggles and the scrappy periods of play I can't wait to witness these two SWPL heavyweights go head to head again. With Plymouth Parkway in the wings and one or two other contenders making positive soundings it should be a great season of South West football.

Sorry about the snaps (bit basic), had to make do with the phone again, camera left at home.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Dobwalls 4 St Stephens Borough 0

Wednesday 27th July 2016
Pre Season Friendly
DOBWALLS 4 ST STEPHENS BOROUGH 0
Attendance: 36 head count
Admission: Free
Programme: None printed
Tea Hut Stuff: Not available (clubhouse being extended)
Parking: Club car park adjacent to the pitch
Weather: Dry with sunny intervals, reasonably mild
I did a Dobwalls visit report last Boxing Day v Liskeard so I ain't gonna duplicate all the stuff about the ground.

No tea hut option this evening I'm afraid as the club are finishing off a large extension to their clubhouse.

Dobwalls had a pretty disappointing season last term finishing 15th out of 17th in the SWP Division 1 West. St Stephens Borough from over at China Fleet way in Saltash ended up mid table in the East Cornwall Premier Division.
This was a spirited entertaining little friendly played on a nice looking green pitch with some decent evening weather. Thirty odd punters took advantage of the free admission and witnessed two sides willing to play decent football.

Dobwalls probably deserved the win but the 4-0 scoreline flattered them. If a very young St Stephens side had been better adapted to defending crosses this game could have been a hell of a lot closer.
Both sides knocked the ball about in a pleasing manner and there was a lot to admire in some of the individual performances, especially the young Borough second half captain nicknamed Twinkle whom I was informed by officials was Josh King, he had a tremendous game and also showed some great leadership skills with his young colleagues. Even though they got beaten by four goals I reckon the visitors have a lot to be encouraged about in their squad and the positive way they play the game, I was impressed. As regards Dobwalls I feel they will certainly have a more productive enhanced campaign this season, like St Stephens they play the game the right way and have half a dozen good quality players in the ranks.

Quite a good little game really.

Apologies for the quality of the snaps, only had my phone with me tonight.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Perranporth 1 Newquay 5

Saturday 23rd July 2016
Pre Season Friendly (Brian Biggin Memorial Trophy)
PERRANPORTH 1 NEWQUAY 5
Attendance: 90 head count
Admission: £2
Programme: None published
Tea Hut Stuff: Coffee £1
Weather: Dull and overcast, muggy
Parking: Squeezed in at the end of the overlooking road
The Match Shed hit holiday maker traffic on the A38 near Bodmin and got a second dose on the A30 approaching the Goonhavern turn. Cars crammed full of beach balls, brightly coloured towels and shopping bags bursting with jaunty swimming costumes. Wondered if they'd remembered to pack the umbrella's and the raincoats? This is 2016 Cornwall remember.

Despite the comments above, the sun was out and it had been a glorious morning weather wise. Everyone was cheerful, happy and filled with holiday anticipation. It wouldn't last though, a thick lead grey cover of dense cloud moved in and parked up for the rest of the day. At least it didn't rain (no, it was saving that for the entire duration of the following day, as I write this very report). I just love new age British Summertime.

Perranporth is the next main resort town south of Newquay. It has an absolutely fantastic beach which seems to stretch for miles. You can shake off most of the tourists early doors and get close to peaceful isolation right next to the waves, lovely.
The town centre itself is basically a main street housing dozens of trinket shops, cafe's, restaurants and a few holiday pubs, the usual stuff for a typical friendly holiday resort. Mind you I did find a nice little place selling Crantock Pasties which are some of my favourites at the moment (which was a bonus).

The ground is on the northern outskirts of the town as you head out for Goonhavern, look out for the rugby posts after passing the garage on your right, the football ground is directly adjacent tucked in beside the roadside above.
I am using a selection of pre season friendlies to try and visit lower clubs in attractive games against higher SWP Premier League opposition. That continued with todays Premier opposition from nearby Newquay, a side that only just escaped relegation on the last day of the 2015/16 season at Callington. Perranporth themselves ply their trade in the Jollys Cornwall Combination League. Last season they finished 13th out of 20 with 48 points. I would agree that both clubs have scope for improvement.

As the Match Shed pulled into the car park next to the Ponsmere Valley ground I immediately groaned at the site of parking meters. The council and private parking companies appear to have the whole of Perranporth locked down into a rigid pay and display culture. This car park was quite a hike to the beach but they still wanted Joe Public to fork out 4 quid minimum to park a vehicle. No way Jose, I did a Match Shed 9 point turn and tried my luck on the nearby street. I was extremely lucky to find a vacant space in a long line of bumper to bumper roadside parking just up from the club and beyond the line of strict no parking cones, result.
The Ponsmere Valley ground doesn't have an abundance of football stadium culture, Cornwall is beautiful but its a tad short on that kind of stuff. Without wishing to appear in any way disrespectful to a hard working non league club, its basically a bumpy pitch (when dry) next to a small clubhouse and some changing rooms. I can appreciate that it is really difficult on a limited budget to keep a football pitch in pristine order with the radically changing weather that the South West gets. It does have the bonus of floodlights though which potentially affords some wintertime mid week games and certain training sessions? Must add that the ground is really well kept and everything is extremely neat and tidy here. It gently nestles besides the slopes of a nearby golf club and the Perran Sands holiday camp beside the main road into the town, across the plane rests the town with its homely seaside trappings and the ever expanding housing estates as the developers dig deep into the nearby countryside. Seems a popular place looking at the amount of mechanical excavation equipment and infinity building foundations.

The pitch looked dry and hard. We had some rare hot weather down here last week but there has also been an awful lot of rain, I was surprised how dried out it appeared, must be hard work indeed for the groundsman. Nice to see a polite spread of local Perranporth supporters and some who'd made the short journey over from Newquay. I even spotted a few tourist look a likes with various League club shirts on, all good stuff for the good of the game (England forgotten etc.)
As for the match, well, how can I politely put this... it wasn't the best, in fact it was pretty much pants. Never have I seen such a collection of open-net sitters fluffed when it would have been far easier to score. Unreal. The ball was like a jumping jack firework on a massive bouncy castle, lets say it wasn't a level playing field in every technical sense of the phrase. With ball control at a minimum the first half went into non league 'Apocalypse Now' mode. Weird but not very wonderful. The hoof, clog and charge strategy was having a distinct effect on the proceedings. A free kick come cross slipped by everyone on the edge of the area, including the keeper and Newquay (in red and white stripes) took a 1-0 lead. Perranporth charged back up the pitch shouting cherry picked football squad slogans at each other, sadly, it had little reward. I sat down on the grass bank behind one of the goals to question what the hell was I doing here?
In an attempt to return to the living I stumbled into the clubhouse at half time for a coffee. Slowly I could feel my arms again and heard peoples voices around me, I hadn't been sent to football hell after all, surely things could only get better?

In accordance with the other 3 friendlies I have seen in Cornwall this season the SWP Premier League side took a second half grip of the proceedings and pretty much bossed the game. Newquay ended up with 5 goals but it could easily have been well into double figures. The Perranporth keeper was my man of the match, single handed he tried to stop the merciless tide coming in. Miraculous save after save hounded the Newquay attack, despite the rare glitch he had a stormer, well done Sir, you are a credit to your club and by the look of things, they really need to keep hold of you.
As full time and the sanctuary of the Match Shed beckoned the last rights were played out amongst half cut tourists from the beach and the pub strolling back to the Caravan Park along the road above the ground, a few of them yelled out clever dick comments more in line with a Rugby international, some of the worse for wear ones actually thought a rugby match was taking place? Was it the nearby posts from the adjoining rugby pitch... or maybe the kick and clap long high balls zooming up and down the playing field? Who knows, I think the Man United highlights are on Sky Sports later tonight for them anyway, sleep tight peeps.
Goodbye for now Perranporth, good luck to both sides for the season.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Millbrook 0 Plymouth Parkway 7

Wednesday 20th July 2016
Pre Season Friendly
MILLBROOK 0 PLYMOUTH PARKWAY 7
Attendance: 46 (head count)
Admission: Free in
Programme: Didn't do one
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea 60p
Weather: Dry with odd sunny intervals, mild
Parking: Club car park
The Match Shed made a pleasant steady journey over to the quaint little town of Millbrook. A nice quiet settlement which resides on the B3247 road towards the Cremyll foot ferry and Mount Edgcumbe Park. This is a much undervalued part of Cornwall with lovely countryside and scenic stretches of coastline. Hidden gems such as Portwrinkle, Cawsand and Kingsand rest proudly in nearby accompaniment.
Upon reaching Millbrook you need to leave the B3247 just after the extremely narrow street section and take the sign for the centre a few hundred yards down on the left. This winds you around to an open lake with a few benches. Head straight on and keep right by the park to eventually arrive at Jenkins Park the home of Millbrook football club.
Tonight's attractive looking friendly was against the ambitious Plymouth Parkway outfit who make no bones about wanting to progress up the football pyramid. Their first publicised objective is securing promotion to the Western League. The momentum of late has been complimented by the arrival of Paul Sturrock as an advisor to manager Kevin Hendy. Last seasons SWP Premier League form witnessed a fourth placed finish just 2 points shy of Tavistock in third spot but 14 points behind eventual champions Bodmin Town.
As for Millbrook, they play in the SWP Division One West. Last term was a bit of a hard slog for them as they finally ended up in 13th position with just the six wins from 32 games. They will be hoping for much better form this season and there is certainly everything to play for.
I slung the Match Shed in the club car park and took full advantage of free admission to the ground. First impressions of Jenkins Park appeared favourable, there was a sizeable clubhouse behind the goals and a decent looking stand by the halfway line, the pitch looked neat and tidy and all appeared well. After another ten minutes or so the first impressions faded a bit as I realised the stand was out of bounds due to a big hole in the roof, the pitch was hard and dry with a tricky covering of grass and the clubhouse was upside down due to refurbishment and decorating. Never mind, this is step seven remember, it is easy to be critical but hard to find a magic wand at this level. Have to say the place still showed signs of what must have been a very neat ground at one time, hopefully the club can move forwards and build things up again. It looked liked they'd already started by what was going on in the clubhouse.
There were not many in attendance tonight, these pre season friendlies are training exercises at the end of the day, I got 46 or so from my head count, its never helped when people can't keep still for two minutes?
As expected with the majority of non league games we got off to a hundred mph start as enthusiasm and loud bursts of encouragement heralded the first ten minutes of frantic anarchy. Someone from the visiting ranks kept repeatedly yelling "F*CKING WANT IT" at the top of his booming loud voice. It echoed out from the ground with resounding decibels drifting ever onwards towards nearby residents bijou back garden barbecues and those polite aperitifs with Jeremy and Samantha. Made me smile.
 
The proceedings calmed down to a bit of a first half stalemate, then, just on the half hour mark Millbrook began a 15 minute master class in completely incompetent defending, they literally announced 'open-house' and gave the whole game away. Parkway marched in and did the whole village, half time arrived and they were 4-0 up, end of.
I ambled off to the clubhouse at half time on the off chance of a hot drink and was surprised to find Terry's snack table just inside the entrance. He had it layed out adjacent to the piled up furniture and remnant fall out of the redecorating project. Terry in person was doing tea, coffee and a few snacks such as sweets and crisps. Nice to see a snack bar up and running no matter what carnage surrounds you, well done Terry. I opted for a 60p tea in a paper cup and went back out to enjoy some of the views.
Second half was pretty much controlled by the visitors who looked a bit rusty on the finishing side but much more impressive on the approach play. That's a great looking kit they play in as well, all yellow with the blue trim and socks, very smart indeed. They bagged three more goals to end it 7-0 and I reckon both sides will have a few primary objectives for the next in-house training session. Decent evenings football for what was a friendly and I enjoyed my trip to Millbrook.
 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Liskeard Athletic 0 Bodmin Town 5

Tuesday 12th July 2016
Pre Season Friendly
LISKEARD ATHLETIC 0 BODMIN TOWN 5
Attendance: 93 *head count
Admission: 2 quid, like it!
Programme: Didn't do one
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea in a real mug, 70p
Weather: Early sunny spell, quickly clouded over, slight chill
Parking: Across the main road directly adjacent to the ground
I like Liskeard. Nice unpretentious market town. Lots of charismatic buildings designed by Henry Rice the Victorian architect still adorn the centre. Its surrounded by lovely countryside and numerous pretty villages. I suppose you could add the football ground Lux Park to the list of goodies, you pass it if you're journeying up to Pensilva or St Cleer, its bang on the main road. Its got a quirky main stand with a few rows of planked bench type seating and across the pitch there is a covered terrace affording welcome shelter from the brutalities of what nearby Caradon Hill chucks down on it. To say it rains a lot here is an understatement.
The place looked in fine fettle amidst some rare July sunshine. I gave the gent on the gate my 2 quid entrance money and immediately admired the lush freshly mown green pitch. I hoped it would play as wonderful as it looked. Lux Park has had a bit of work done to it since my last visit here, they've put a long stretch of impressive concreted hard standing running from the main stand to the sports centre end which certainly gives that side of the ground a more dignified feel. 
 
One of the jewels in the crown here is the old school tea hut come meeting room with some nice ladies serving up the goodies amidst walls covered in historic photographs from the clubs archives. As tonight was just a friendly game there only appeared to be drinks, sweets and crisps on offer, I had sampled a lovely pasty here on a previous trip but not tonight. I just had a cup of tea from the urn which was provided in a mug. A trusting gesture, I've been a few places when that mug would never be seen again, perhaps that could be why mine had a very feminine floral print on it, not much of a trophy for any wanna-be football ground pot collector. No wonder they all get returned to the counter again.
Tonights game featured a young Liskeard side who had struggled to keep pace with the leading pack in last seasons SWP Division 1 West, like it had been for many SWP sides the relentless rain and numerous postponements made decent form and consistency a mighty hard objective to achieve. Liskeard were certainly up against it tonight, Bodmin Town did the treble last term besides having a decent run in the FA Vase, they are rightly recognised as a very good side in the South West Peninsula League and rumour had it they were putting a strong first team out tonight.
 
We kicked off with a sparse crowd in attendance, for some strange reason this more than doubled after 15 minutes, I got the impression 50 odd blokes were hid in the bushes across the road just waiting for Owd Ned to toddle off from his turnstile hut. Not that I can imagine a 2 quid admission saving going very far in summertime Cornwall.
The young Liskeard lads almost matched the confident Bodmin 11 for the first half. The visitors showed their class with some clinical unflinching finishing to take a two goal lead back to the dressing rooms. The second 45 minutes were all Bodmin as the strategy, work rate and cohesion made its mark. Time and time again they created openings and tested out their shooting, credit to the Liskeard keeper for keeping the score down to 5-0, it could have (and should have) been a much bigger margin.
These are purely leg stretchers and give a test run for tactical exercises so nothing too serious can be read into the proceedings. I will say I was still impressed with the quality of football Bodmin played, they certainly have some good players. I may be totally wrong about this as my research is sketchy at the moment but Bodmin had a guy with red hair playing tonight nicknamed Sully, who could be (according to the excellent SWP website player-movements) Dan Sullivan ex Plymouth Parkway? My apology if I am incorrect. Have to say this Sully chap had an absolute stormer of a game and looks a very good player indeed.
 
All in all it was a pleasant evening of football and it actually stayed dry, which is a bonus for SWP football in recent times.
 

Sunday, 10 July 2016

St Blazey 0 Plymouth Argyle 9

Saturday 9th July 2016
Pre Season Friendly
ST BLAZEY 0 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 9
Attendance: 800 Head count, no stats currently available
Admission: £10
Programme: £1 Decent effort, not just launderette adverts
Grub Stuff: Nil, massive queue of cheesy chip monsters
Weather: Dull and dreary, intermittent fine drizzle
Parking: Local car park 500 yards from the ground
This was about a 20 mile trip for me. The Match Shed took its place coasting along the A390 amidst the long haul tourist caravanettes and bulky local tractors, the slate grey sky worsened to mist on the higher stretches, the fine drizzle dictated a dreary damp setting that had little place in summertime July.
Football was here again, hip hip hooray! I've never been one for televised women's tennis and the endless rantings about glorified pitch and putt. It felt good to be going to a game again.

St Blazey appeared out of the gloom like a film set ghost town with not a local in sight. Then within ear shot of the ground a surprise troupe of green and white fanatics appeared like lost souls caught fatefully in time. They ambled in polite procession towards the clubhouse like casual casualties cursed in the memory of that sordid Argyle non performance at Wembley. Their loyalty to the cause spurring them on to seek a cure for their torment, surely the serenity of Blaise Park would bring a welcoming end to this summer long entrapment. Derek Adams certainly hoped it would? He'd brought in almost a complete new team of summer signings. Gone was the lack lustre culture of little competition for places, this new bunch would be chomping at the bit to make a mark, from now on every player would have to fight hard for their place. All good stuff but could the proposed formula gel, today was purely a training exercise, a ten quid leg stretcher, the real deal starts with the Luton Town gang show in early August.

With the Match Shed safely parked outside an unmanned police hut I made my way to the ground. It was early, there was well over an hour to kick off. The clubhouse adjacent to the turnstile was doing a roaring trade with locals and Argyle fans soaking up the ale. Gone was the look of gloom on those twin-towered faces, they were now lit up like slot machines as the continuing pints brought fresh optimism and cheer.
Ten quid could be argued to be a tad steep for a first outing friendly in the West Country but Plymouth are like Real Madrid down these parts of Cornwall so who could blame St Blazey for generating some welcoming income.

I was 50/50 about engaging in tea hut grub, I'd had a big dinner and could take it or leave it. The fact that the tea hut had a long snaking queue of greedy punters put paid to my temptations. Almost everyone seemed to be ordering cheesy chips smothered in economy ketchup? Perhaps its a sign of the times? I'd be into the more heavy duty goods such as pasties, pies and burgers given the chance.
Blaise Park is a really nice little non league ground. Alongside the decent sized clubhouse there is a fully seated main stand, some covered viewing behind one of the goals and a well kept grass bank down the far side of the pitch, this offers some good views of the action. Nice to see the bank being put to practical use as too many fickle non league clubs nationwide have gone health and safety bonkers with ridiculous banking restrictions when there is minimal risk to the spectator. St Blazey also provided a well presented playing surface, it appeared more than adequate for the proceedings in my opinion.
By kick off there was a fair old crowd in attendance, the loyal Green Army were keen to get a look at the new signings and it was positive to note that Argyle had sent a strong first team squad along. The St Blazey side who performed so well in turning last seasons form around would be up against it but who could turn down the chance of playing against such salubrious opposition. Perhaps it was the fact that St Blazey play in similar colours to Argyle, green shirts, black shorts etc, that some young lads near me actually thought Blazey were Argyle in the opening minutes such was the degree of new faces for Plymouth. Must say that new Argyle away kit is absolutely stunning and a welcome throw back to the seventies kits I had in my subbuteo collection (even though I lived 300 miles away then).
The game itself has already been excellently reported on various Argyle outlets so I'll cut to the chase. Plymouth were too quick and too organised for the home side. I'm taking into consideration that Plymouth are tipped for promotion this season and St Blazey are Step 6 in the non league pyramid but some of the Argyle approach play was phenomenal. It was 0-5 at half time and Jake Jervis already had a hat trick. The passing and movement looked a whole lot better than some of the stuff Argyle stuttered with during the latter part of last season.
As one could expect, the second half witnessed quite a few substitutions but eventually the visitors regained a head of steam to easily coast through to a 0-9 victory. I must add praise to the way St Blazey never gave up in this game and had their spells of good quality passing and creativity themselves, not forgetting spirited defending when the chips were down. They have some good players and I shall doubtless catch up with them again over the course of the coming season. A good friendly club with impressive non league facilities, many a more well financed club would have been put to the sword by this resurgent Plymouth squad, the fact the home side held together as a unit and played decent football bolds well for their upcoming campaign, I wish them well.
I enjoyed getting my football fix back again.