Sunday, 26 May 2019

International Non League in Cornwall

Saturday 25th May 2019
CONIFA Fixture
Kernow FA 5 Barawa FA 0
Venue: Bodmin Town FC
Attendance: 215 (head count)
Admission: £5 & £3 concessions
Programme: £1
Weather: Mild evening, turning cloudy with sporadic light drizzle
Parking: Car park adjacent to ground

To start with allow me to provide some basic background about this game.
This was the first International game Kernow FA had been involved in. The Cornwall Select had previously only played 2 warm up games both against local opposition, they defeated Foxhole Stars and St Dennis respectively.

Barawa is a coastal town in South West Somalia. The Barawa FA has been organised by a dispersion of Somali football lovers residing in the UK. Their primary objectives are to promote Barawanese culture around the globe and reboot an interest in community football in Somalia. By promoting this sporting pathway it is hoped that the movement will assist in tackling poverty, boosting education and aiding the efforts to improve local living standards in the region. The people love football and the Barawa side have a respected reputation for playing an entertaining standard of the game.

CONIFA stands for Confederation of Independent Football Associations. They are the federation representing football associations outside the FIFA umbrella (which is a good start). They are non profit (unlike FIFA) and assist nations and regions with minority peoples from a wide range of isolated places and territories. Bearing in mind how Westminster treats the South West I would agree Cornwall have a claim to join in the fun.

This fixture has been tremendously well organised by Kernow FA with a multi profile coverage which even included live streaming of the action. I believe You Tube footage is readily available. For this reason I'm not doing a blow by blow report of the game but I shall endeavour to provide a cross section of photographs which hopefully give a hint of what an entertaining evenings football we all enjoyed. Barawa lost 5-0 but it was a joy to see them participating in such fine style after an extremely fatiguing coach trip down to Bodmin. I think everyone appreciated their efforts and they gained many friends who shall doubtless watch out for their progress and results in the future.

A quick paragraph on the Cornwall lads performance. Must say I was mightily impressed. Everyone played their part in providing some sparkling football. The future for Kernow FA looks bright indeed on this showing. People tend to remember the exciting bits about any game and the Kernow strike force certainly gave us plenty to look back upon. James Lorenz of Liskeard Athletic looks a genuine star of the future and he again emphasised why so many people rate him as a top class striker at this level. 

James was matched by the St Austell hitman Mark Goldsworthy who gave the Barawa defenders a tough time throughout, a superb performance. Last but not least I must mention the high impact cameo role from Liam Eddy (St Austell). Liam tore up the later stages of the game with a truly dynamite recital of action-man exploits which eventually peaked with a wonder goal which was expertly flighted from near enough the corner flag, epic.

I didn't know what to expect from this fixture when I handed over my cash to the lady in the entrance hut but goodness me I wasn't disappointed, well done Kernow FA, thank you Barawa FA and lets have some more of it soon.

Feel free to glance through some of the additional snaps I took (below): 

Sunday, 12 May 2019

The Big SWPL Cup Final at St Blazey

Saturday 11th May 2019
Walter C Parson South West Peninsula League Cup Final

Venue: Blaise Park, home of St Blazey FC
Attendance: 585 (Cup Record Buster)
Admission: £5 General, £3 Concessions
Programme: Free (Went pretty soon, quite a few punters disappointed)
Tea Hut Stuff: Too busy (and I'd also had a big dinner)
Weather: Uninterrupted sunshine, nice and mild
Parking: Car Park full, dumped the Match Shed 500 yards away

They don't come much bigger than an all Cornwall Cup Final do they? Rumour had it Rick Stein and that Poldark chap would be necking pints in the club bar before kick off (didn't see them in the ground though).

This had all the trappings of a cut and thrust classic with two of the SWPL big hitters renowned for Johan Cruyff type football strutting their stuff.

Have to say on the drive down in the Match Shed I didn't clock much football traffic, just the usual tourists en route for 2 weeks in a windy caravan near Mevagissey. Everybody was probably in the bar with the Poldark bloke.

My last 'Tea Hut Site' visit to St Blazey didn't go at all well due to a run in with an over zealous fifty/fifty ticket seller. I'm not the type to hold a grudge though (honestly?). Blaise Park was a picture of excellence for the big day and everyone involved from St Blazey FC deserves a big pat on the back for providing a superb setting for the Cup Final. Friendly courteous staff, including many club officials in suits and ties, easy access and egress, a wonderful playing surface and a spick & span ground (which has to be one of the best in the South West at non league level). They certainly did the SWPL and everyone in attendance proud. Well done indeed.

I got a decent vantage point on the grass bank opposite the Main Stand near the halfway line and was quietly contemplating the upcoming feast of football 15 minutes before kick off. Then a startling occurrence, I was sure I could hear a big booming drum far off in the distance that seemed to be gradually increasing in volume and apparently getting nearer and nearer? Families eating picnics on the grass around me looked up from their corned beef and pickle sandwiches at the encroaching racket. Then I heard voices, they were singing... they were singing football songs one normally hears on Match of the Day, you don't get this type of thing in Cornwall. A flag appeared, then a few yards back another one, then there was the unmistakable wobbling entrance of a bloody big banner! It appeared St Blazey was under siege from a mob of Seria A Ultras who'd got on the wrong ferry at Civitavecchia (the port for Roma). 

I heard a few rumblings from nearby Saltash supporters in red and white scarves that the Falmouth F Troop had arrived? I went to a Falmouth game at their ground recently, there was me and a handful of old blokes taking a well earned break from Boss Hog the nagging wife, there were certainly no Italian Ultra's. In a crazed fit of retaliation the Saltash Barmy Army (2 young lads sharing a Budweiser) let off a flare which must have been from a pound shop.

All it did was upset the people downwind eating the corned beef butties. Now I knew what it must be like to be at a Champions League Final.

Sadly my report has covered all the good bits of this day out in the sunshine. A great venue and some good old fashioned chest beating from supporters enjoying a day out at the football (beer was probably involved). The match itself was an absolute howler. Been many a year since I've ever seen anything this bad. Neither side had a clue. It was a fragmented mess lacking any sign of strategy or class. Undiluted boredom kicked in halfway through the first half and I gradually drifted off into some kind of non league induced version of Apocalypse Now. Thank goodness some random Saltash player put his header in the Falmouth net with literally seconds before the Extra Time I was dreading. I don't think I could have done it.

Well done to St Blazey for a lovely setting, the F Troop from Falmouth for the atmosphere and the 2 lads representing the Saltash Barmy Army, crap game though, seriously.


Thursday, 9 May 2019

"I'll be back"!

Just getting the new brain bedded in.

Football service WILL be resumed.

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.