Sunday, 6 January 2019

Plymouth Parkway 2 Chipping Sodbury Town 3

Saturday 5th January 2019
Western League Premier Division
Attendance: 227
Admission: £7 & £4 concessions
Programme: £1.50
Tea Hut Stuff: Large looking pasty £2.50
Weather: Cold and grey, cloudy but dry
Parking: On the road adjacent to the car park
Match Rating: 8/10
I've been down the South West for three and a half years now (Cornwall based), this was my first ever Western League fixture and jolly impressive it was too.

I'd previously seen Parkway many times during that period in the South West Peninsula League which they ultimately won promotion from last season. Always a good football side, the hard work put in by the board, management, players, supporters & associated officials is clear to see. It has witnessed the infrastructure and development of the club taking big strides forward in advancing the Plymouth Parkway profile as an entertaining choice to watch good quality football. You could smell the pride and commitment as soon as you walked in the gate. Coming into the game Parkway were 6th in the league and unbeaten in the previous 10 games.

The Sods, which is one of the best acknowledged club nicknames I've come across, were visiting Bolitho Park in 15th position. Chipping Sodbury Town seem to have had a mixed bag of results ranging from the very good to worryingly indifferent. Today, their small bunch of supporters were obviously hoping for the former.
The Match Shed passed a fitness test early morning so it was a pretty uneventful journey along the A38 eastbound. I paid my £1.50 to the highwaymen at the Tamar Bridge Toll and tried my best to avoid undercarriage damage from the never ending speed bumps on the road up to the ground.

The area in and around Bolitho Park currently resembles a collection centre for civil engineering projects, there's building work everywhere which appeared to have a knock-on effect regarding the packed full car park. Options for street parking could be deemed busy. I luckily got the Match Shed tucked away in a tight spot just vacated across from the ground.

Woolly hat, scarf and gloves on I paid my admission at the entrance and appreciated the sociable remarks to "enjoy the game". I immediately came across a large gathering where a sizeable crowd were either eating or queuing for pasties at the Tea Hut. 
Don't get me wrong they did all sorts of other stuff as well, I also saw people with curry and chips and bacon sandwiches but the main focus for the hungry hordes seemed to be the well proportioned Denzils Pasty. I joined the long line of dinner guests and eagerly awaited my turn with anticipation. I wasn't disappointed, don't think I've ever had a pasty with that much steak in it before, it certainly saw me through until tea time.
Bolitho Park is a nice little set up and the club are visually taking steps to compliment the existing facilities even further, the ongoing club house improvements are a prime example. There is a small seated stand alongside a TV gantry by the halfway line and there is a covered terrace opposite. 
At the moment, possibly due to the ground improvements there is also one of those big white tents you see at fancy weddings. 
This collection of ground-furniture goodies is enhanced by what appeared to be a well kept (flat) playing surface, which for this time of the year in our rather wet South West is something of a rarity.

I spent the first half behind the goal opposite the Tea Hut end. I got chatting to a friendly knowledgeable chap who once played for Falmouth Town. He gave me a great insight to the history of Parkway and what had been going on in the Western League this season. Neither of us were surprised when a dominant Parkway took the lead but (no disrespect intended) we were somewhat taken aback when Chipping Sodbury equalised, against the run of play was an understatement. One minute Parkway were happily coasting along the empty autobahn to 3 easy points, next thing the visitors grabbed the wheel and took the whole proceedings 'off-road'. The Sods (nickname) got another one and led 1-2, Parkway bobble hats were chucked to the ground in dismay, this wasn't part of the script?
Needless to say most folk reckoned the Parkway 11 would be getting the traditional Lee Hobbs rollicking in the half time dressing room. Sure enough the home side appeared a lot more focused and set about storming The Sods defensive line. It must have come as quite a disturbing surprise that Chipping Sodbury were not going to drown with the increasing tidal wave of pressure. They can play a bit and ripped Parkway apart on the counter attack with some sublime clinical finishing. The ground opened for Lee Hobbs home team bench, The Sods went 1-3 up.

Parkway threw the kitchen sink at the visitors as wave after wave of attacks battered The Sods end of the pitch, plenty of near misses and admirable last ditch defending kept Parkway to just one further goal. The Sods had survived and won the game 2-3. A very well executed away performance that soaked up the inevitable Parkway pressure and in response applied a ruthless counter attacking policy which fatally wounded the home side even before half time.
Awful for Parkway to take, deep joy for The Sods and a damn entertaining 90 minutes for neutrals like me.

Needless to say, nobody sneaked off early from this one. Good game.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Wadebridge Town 0 Porthleven 4

Saturday 29th December 2018
South West Peninsula League Division 1 West
Match Rating 5/10
Attendance: 62 (head count)
Admission: £2
Programme: £1
50/50: £1 (missed it by 2 numbers)
Tea Hut: Nein danke
Weather: Continual drizzle
Parking: Above the pitch opposite the Main Stand
Seems to rain everyday in Cornwall, today was no different, dull leaden sky and that bloody awful drizzle.  I fired up the Match Shed and trundled off to Wadebridge, a nice little town which is a well known stage on the Camel Trail cycling route running through from Padstow to Bodmin.

The Bridgers (Wadebridge) were currently third in the SWP Division 1 West and today faced up against the league leaders Porthleven. Seemed more or less match of the day down the South West.

Must be showing my age (or perhaps its the wrinkles from being wet through all the time) but the chap in the hut at the entrance to the ground automatically charged me the old timer concession rate. I wasn't complaining when I handed over the 2 quid, I was even inspired to splash out on a colourful looking programme and a 50/50 ticket (I'd won the pot last time out over at Holsworthy).

Bodieve Park is one of the better grounds in this part of the country, there are raised grass banks offering excellent viewing spots plus the addition of a slightly strange looking Main Stand and the Ron Williams Shed End. Its slightly smaller than the famous Shed of West London fame. You also get easy parking here and if it's raining (which it probably will be) you can see all the action from the comfort of your car.
Was amazed when the sides lined up to see a 12 year old referee in charge. OK he probably looked younger than his age but putting someone so young in charge of what was obviously going to be a hotly contested encounter seemed a naive choice. Sure enough plenty of loud mouthed opinionated players tried to intimidate the young chap and gave him a hard time indeed. Credit to the lad he still managed to keep a lid on the proceedings and did a spirited job bearing in mind the obvious inexperience. He was well supported by a linesman provided by Wadebridge who proved to be impeccably neutral in his flag waving, sometimes foiling desperate Wadebridge attacks as they battled to get back into the game, a rare but welcome sight, well done Sir.
The usual frenzied beginning to a non league game witnessed plenty of misplaced passes (not helped by a bobbling pitch) enthusiastic shouting, hoofing and charging around. Thankfully things settled down midway through the first half and we got the makings of an attractive encounter. 
Porthleven ended up worthy winners and created numerous scoring opportunities. They look a well balanced experienced side. Credit to Wadebridge they fought hard throughout the game and engineered a sack full of chances themselves, the game could have easily ended up 8-12, however it was the visitors who proved to be much the more clinical and took an important 3 points back to Gala Parc for their title kitty. 

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Holsworthy 0 Liskeard Athletic 1

Saturday 8th September 2018
South West Peninsula League Division 1 West
Attendance: 87 head count (not many clubs publish crowds down here)
Admission: £4 
Programme: Free (couple of club columns, usual page to page adverts)
Tea Hut Stuff: Most folk seemed taken in by chips with grated cheese?
Weather: Dull, first time I've needed a coat this season
Parking: Just over the road from the entrance, easy getaway

Not a lot going on in this quiet but characterful little town, appears Holsworthy shuts up shop come midday on a Saturday, I passed 5 people in the town square as they drifted between the Co-Op, a Cafe and an Electrical Shop. The main car park even stops charging at lunchtime. Not exactly rocking at the prospect of the league leaders providing todays in-town opposition.

Upcott Field is a nice little non league ground for this standard of football, there's a decent low level stand with a row of benches and room for standing at the rear, they've also got a busy club house with a bar and comfortable seating arrangements. A refreshment window adjacent to the entrance provides burgers, chips, sausage rolls and the usual stuff your Doctor tells you not to eat. A bit further along resides what looks like a retro 70's style caravan which appears to act as the Club Office. The rest of the place is just the railed off pitch which seems to dip towards the playground end of the stadium. The surface looked in good condition if not a little hard from the uncommon dry summer.

A reasonable crowd of 80 odd showed up with about a quarter coming along from Cornwall as the Liskeard support. 

Neither Holsworthy or their visitors had lost a game yet with Liskeard currently joint top of the pile alongside their Cornwall rivals Porthleven on points. 

Suppose neutrals had the visitors down for the 3 points and their possession and the chances they imposed upon Holsworthy certainly backed that up. Liskeard continually fluffed their opportunities throughout the game and despite hitting the woodwork on numerous occasions just couldn't extinguish the threat that Holsworthy might pinch something from this encounter. 

Being honest it was a hard game to watch, the passing, cohesion and finishing was pretty much poor quality. This was a particularly scrappy match and only brightened up when Liskeard defender Adam King popped up in the box to head home the only goal of the game in the second half. 

This spurred the home side into some spirited advances over the halfway line which in turn gave Liskeard more scope to counter attack, one of the current best strikers in the division, James Lorenz can count himself very unlucky to not get on the scoresheet, his clever approach play and lightening turn of foot had the Holsworthy defenders in knots. 

Likewise fellow Liskeard striker Ben Waters who was incredibly unlucky not to grab a few goals himself, the goalposts saved Holsworthy on a number of occasions, how the ball didn't go in the net was incredible.

Must add a note about the Referee Mr Anthony Cloak, it cannot be easy officiating in non-league but I have to say Tony was absolutely top notch at keeping this game flowing, his common sense decision making and firm communication provided the ideal platform for football, shame the respective team performances let the event down a tad. 

A brief summary of the afternoon would be Liskeard got the 3 valuable points they needed but more or less 'won-ugly'. They are a far better football side than this showing but at least they got what they came for. Holsworthy battled hard but they don't quite look the finished article on this showing. Liked the ground, very friendly people and the sleepy little town had some nice touches about it too. Being honest and not wishing to appear disrespectful I've seen a lot better games at this level. 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Bere Alston United 1 Liskeard Athletic 4

Saturday 18th August 2018
South West Peninsula League Division 1 West (what a mouthful)
Attendance: 70 (dodgy headcount)
Admission: £2 which included their first ever programme
Tea Hut Stuff: Saw some blokes with mugs of tea near the changing hut
Weather: Overcast, reasonably mild but still had to put the trusty coat on
Parking: Car Park full, parked down the lane, some parked on the Rec area

Welcome Bere Alston to the SWPL. This was their first game in the much respected competition and what better start than to have the entertaining Liskeard club as opposition. They even did a programme for the occasion which I am led to believe was a first ever edition.

Bere Alston is a small tidy village about 6 miles from Tavistock off the road from Callington. It's a relaxing nice drive without the antics of tourists taking on tractors. I arrived pleasantly calm without the need for extra blood pressure tablets. It is a fine achievement for such a sedate humble village to have a football club in the SWPL and it was obvious that a small group of people had worked extremely hard to attain such a status. The Chairman, Westy Westlake also steps up as a Player and takes on the Joint Manager role with Mark Wheeler, in similar fashion Mark is also Club Treasurer. Westy didn't get on the pitch today but you could see him doing his stuff in the dug out. There are doubtless other colleagues doing their bit like the chap taking on the task of getting people to pay in at the playing fields gate, it's possibly been free entry up until now. At only 2 quid it's gotta be the best value around. Poor chap seemed to be getting some negative remarks from nearby houses on the lane, don't think the Bere Alston population was prepared for the baying hordes of 70 odd punters rolling up for a football match, for goodness sake one of the mob had a flask and a sandwich box, nobody wants to witness anti-social behaviour like that going on. I also think the Club Secretary Derek Murphy puts in a regular shift running the line as the designated linesman?

The ground has little in the way of stands or structures, the only building houses the changing rooms and a nice selection of endangered spiders in the mens bogs. The pitch looked very good indeed and somebody needs a pat on the back for its presentation, the playing area is complimented by a wooden fence and nearby trees, it pans out to a large recreational playing field space giving the ground a wide open feel which may entice a biting breeze come winter time. 

Todays visitors Liskeard Athletic just missed out on promotion last season and look a firm bet to be challenging hard again this season. Under the crafty coaching of Richard Woods and Martin Hodge the line up is studded with quality players all the way through the side with Josh Gilbert in goal, Sam Gilbert on the left, Jack Podmore and Jarryd Woods dictating the middle with James Lorenz and Ben Collins continually marauding forwards. 

Looking at the 1-4 final score most will reckon Liskeard pretty much strolled this game but that was certainly not the case. For a long period both sides were evenly matched at 1-1 with Bere Alston proving a tough nut to crack indeed. It was the lethal James Lorenz who broke the deadlock with a well taken strike, only then did Liskeard get the extra space to exploit the game with Lorenz going on to get a hat trick, fair to say his last couple of goals were assisted by some rather lapse defending but he was in the right place at just the right time to take full advantage.

A few armchair experts have said Bere Alston may struggle this introductory season but I saw enough here to warrant some confidence about holding their own. They are well led both off and on the pitch, get stuck in and have some nice positive options to put the opposition on the back foot, good luck to them.

As for Liskeard, they did impress me, good football side who could go all the way if they can keep their key players on the pitch. It will be a very good side who can finish above them this season.

*All the snaps should properly enlarge if you click on them.

Friday, 16 March 2018

FA Cup Weekend

A selection of goodies from my FA Cup collection

Friday, 9 March 2018


Many say its the most scenic fishing village in Cornwall. When the sun hits the valley its possibly the most picturesque in Europe. Of course that's when it's not raining, which isn't very often down Cornwall way.

The coastal path around these parts is gorgeous if not a little strenuous, you'll need proper walking boots and plenty of water.

A slight drawback for postcard Polperro is the lack of choice to park your vehicle, unless you pay the extortionate fee at the one and only car park at the top of the village you don't get to visit. The money grabbers even keep up the high car parking rate during the winter, sadly this turns the dodgy months into a vacant lot of empty second home cottages and out of season self catering houses, mostly without a soul in sight, there isn't a lot open from November to Easter apart from a couple of pub grub establishments and a decent enough bakery.

Anyway enough about nice views and cash extracting parking penalties this is supposed to be a site about South West football venues so I'd better get on with it.

Polperro FC play at Killigarth, a mostly holiday chalet based area at the top of the extremely steep hill heading to the East. You could say Polperro is located about halfway between Polruan (which is just over the water from Fowey) and Looe. Rame Head rests eastbound with Plymouth hidden beyond it.

At the time of writing this entry Polperro were 5th in the ECPL Premier Division, which is quite a good standing for this level of local football in the area. Club colours are green shirts, black shorts and black socks. Green seems ever popular down these parts, wonder if it's the Plymouth Argyle connection?

Approaching along the main road from Looe take the small Killigarth signposted road on the left, it's just a few bends after spotting the Pelynt FC ground on your right and the petrol station just a bit further along. Once past the houses and the holiday accommodation turnings the ground is found by an old metal gate on your right. It's easy to miss so watch out for it.

As expected at this level of football the ground has little in the way of structure, certainly no stands or the like. They do however have a rather nice looking clubhouse building just behind the goals at the holiday complex end. I did find that the pitch has a few undulations with the goal posts at one end definitely sloping towards the sea.

Looks like part of the buildings at the far corner of the ground have become redundant at some stage, not sure if they still provide a ground-staff service or not? Think they were the old changing rooms in the past. Recently heard the club want to refurbish this section and possibly return the building to a changing facility? This would assist in freeing up the nice little clubhouse at the other end of the ground for other ventures. Any potential sponsors should contact the club, I am sure Polperro FC will be pleased to speak to people that may be able to help out.

There is a degree of pitch perimeter advertising boarding with the rest of the playing area roped off accordingly. Looks a nice little place to watch some football.

Under the thumb groundhoppers could easily offload a nagging wife here for a few hours (early or late season would be best). Best offloading spot is down at the entrance to Polperro car park then you can zoom back up to the ground, this leaves Boss Hog to do the rounds at the fudge shops and gift boutiques, job sorted, you get to see a match and she gets a new jumper to politely compliment the new fingers of fudge she's just acquired. Only a joke ladies, I know how delicate things have got lately. No disrespect intended. What would we do without you.


Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Padstow United

Padstow is an extremely popular tourist trap on the North Cornwall coast.

It's hammered.

Pubs and food outlets don't need to try very hard to snare the passing trade here.

Rick Stein seems to own three quarters of the surrounding area with gift shops, delicatessens, restaurants, a pub, hotels and even a mega expensive chippy. Some of the locals have taken to renaming the place 'Padstein'. 

There always seems a willing queue of visitors eagerly waiting to pay well over the odds down the busy streets surrounding the harbour and quayside. Rick has started a trend that has witnessed countless lesser known pretenders staking a claim for some of the tourist related income. There's big money to be made.

20 years ago Padstow was a charming charismatic place with a great atmosphere, now you're just swamped by the gross commercialism and cheesy claustrophobic crowds slogging around the hard sell gift outlets and the ridiculously priced eateries. 

2 hours on my parking ticket gave me far more time than I needed, something I'd never have said when I often came here years ago.

What better reason to escape the mass marketing and dried up pasties than getting some fresh air just outside the town at nearby Jury Park the home of Padstow United. Cornwall football by the coast, what could be better.

The Green Army (as Padstow market themselves at the ground) play in Division 1 of the East Cornwall League. Not to be confused with the slightly larger Green Army over at Home Park, Plymouth Argyle.

Jury Park is an open plan ground with some nice views over the fields but to be honest not a lot else. 

There are changing rooms, dug outs and what could even be a tea hut but you won't find any stands at the location.

Still makes a welcome break from the tourist packed streets around Padstow Harbour though. I know where I'd sooner spend a quiet afternoon.