This season Where's The Tea Hut reached a notable landmark.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

ECPL Cup Semi Final

Saturday 29th February 2020
East Cornwall Premier League Cup Semi Final
Attendance: 62 (head count)
Admission: £1
Programme: Free team sheet
Tea Hut Stuff: Mug of tea £1
Parking: On the road directly adjacent to the halfway line
Weather: Icy wind, lengthy sunny intervals, couple of showers
Colours: MG green shirts & shorts, FS white shirts & black shorts

Steered the Match Shed up from Cornwall and participated in the compulsory 2 quid scam to cross the Tamar Bridge into Devon. 

Mount Gould is in Plymouth just up from the large Laira Railway Depot. The club play at the charismatically titled Tothill Enclosure bang opposite Lanhydrock Road. 'Welcome to Tot-Hell' reads the daunting sign positioned above the entrance to the dressing rooms.

The ECPL is on the lower slope of the football pyramid so don't go along expecting fully furnished stadiums. Mount Gould have done up the one building at the ground which has seen the introduction of good quality changing room facilities, ample clean toilets and a welcoming refreshment unit which acts as a tea hut for spectators pitchside. There are no other structures at Tothill although the close proximity of the housing estate directly alongside one of the touchlines does bring some colour and contrast to the vista.

MG are managed by Wayne Gamble who has built a reputation as a canny tactician who seems to kick every ball. Wayne is so keen he spent most the first half a good 3 metres on the pitch, Referee Ian Spurling diplomatically instructed the boss to retreat within the roped off technical area. Mr Spurling went on to have an impressive afternoon of officiating which can't have been easy considering the magnitude of the fixture.

Wayne's MG side are top of the league in the ECPL (East Cornwall Premier League), bit strange that a Devon side ply their trade in a Cornish League but they've definitely impressed this season. Out of 16 games they've won 14, drawn 1 and only suffered 1 defeat. 

Foxhole Stars (alongside a fast improving St Dominick) are one of their main title challengers so the fact we got both of them in a tense hotly contested Cup Semi Final was a direct bonus. I'd seen Foxhole in a recent game at St Cleer and they've got a reputation for playing the game the right way and certainly posed a major threat to Mount Gould.

Like the whole of the British Isles the South West has been battered by wind and suffered relentless periods of rain (for month upon month). Hardly a game at non league level passed a pitch inspection today. What a credit to Mount Gould that their pitch surprised most the spectators for being in such a playable decent condition. Apparently Wayne Gamble had been up early morning forking the thing, don't think you'd find the likes of winter-break jessies like Klopp & Co getting their pants messed up with the mud?

I got a free team sheet A4 fold over from the nice lady at the admission table upon entering and had a warming mug of tea from the refreshments hatch. Over 60 odd punters came along today and I don't reckon anyone would be disappointed with the commitment and intensity of this relentlessly hard fought encounter. It was never going to be tippy-tappy pretty football with half a gale blowing in off the coast but the rivalry between two of the best sides in the ECPL was plain to see.

First half honours went to MG. They had the wind and used it to full potential. Any ball ending up in the Foxhole 18 yard area was going to be difficult to defend, Mount Gould went 2-0 up. The visitors struggled to make in roads with the gusts playing havoc, chances were few and the break couldn't come soon enough.

Second half Foxhole re-grouped and with the wind at their backs started up their passing game. 

MG didn't flinch and gave as good as they got. It was never a dirty game but both sides gave it everything. When Foxhole banged home a penalty to reduce the deficit to 2-1 the visiting supporters looked a lot more hopeful that they could escape the lions lair with the spoils after all? It wasn't to be, Waynes mob romped up the field and finished off the tapestry they'd carved out in the first half. The Semi Final ended 4-1 to a very impressive Mount Gould who will now meet St Dominick in what looks to be one hell of a Final. 

*St Dominick beat Plymouth Marjon 1-7 away in the other Semi, don't ask me why there are Devon clubs in the Cornwall League (re: Plymouth Marjon), I've only been down here 4 and a half years.

A nice touch I read about on Social Media after the game was that some of the Mount Gould players welcomed the Foxhole lads into their cars for a lift to their home pub for some post match refreshments, well done indeed.


Monday, 2 September 2019

10 years and 500,000 page views

The Tea Hut passed 500,000 page views September 1st 2019. Looking back I've been knocking Visit Reports out 10 years! That's an awful lot of waffle and an endless roll of photographs. Been plenty of highs and lows but I've struggled to get the same enjoyment from it since my striking partner 'Frugal Glenn' sadly passed away a few years ago. My thanks to everyone who's given me feedback & the retweets & likes on Twitter, it's always been greatly appreciated.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

The Cheese Sandwich

Saturday 31st August 2019
FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round
Attendance: 105 (head count)
Admission: £5 & £3 concessions
Programme: £1 (a good example, nice to find plenty to read)
Tea Hut Stuff: Cup of tea £1
Weather: Cloudy with sunny spells, dry and mild
Parking: Directly outside the entrance gate

Whats in Launceston
A nice little Cornish town just before the A30 reaches Devon. There is a Castle, a well respected Butchers and a very busy Tesco Supermarket. There's also a narrow gauge Steam Railway but for some weird reason it's shut on Saturdays. Grub wise the town hosts one of my top ten Cornwall Fish & Chip Shops, Francines. Had the pleasure of pigging out at this establishment a good few times.

The Vase
Favourite cup competition for non league punters. The regionalised rounds still give clubs a chance to be drawn against opponents from other leagues. Today was no exception, Launceston from the South West Peninsula League West had the pleasure of hosting Somerset based Cheddar from the Western League Division One, a side nicknamed 'The Cheesemen' who've won all their opening league games. Evidently quite a few of their supporters had squeezed on the team coach for the event, something which obviously boosted the bar takings in the Launceston clubhouse.

Tea Hut
Launceston put a gazebo type frontage alongside the usual snack bar today. It was a busy location with freshly griddled burgers and plentiful cups of tea on the go. The club had their Clarets Summer Party taking place after the game with a barbecue and live music complimenting the evening. All the profits were going to the Cancer Research Society. There is no doubting that Launceston are a friendly little club who make everyone feel welcome.

Pennygillam: The Ground
An easy place to find, you just head for the giant wind turbine that overlooks the stadium. You get in at the side of the Main Stand which extends down the touchline with 3 rows of seating. You get a good close up view of the pitch from here, the playing surface was in exceptional condition for todays game.

The Car Park End has the usual hard standing and leads onto the clubhouse, snack bar area and adjacent changing rooms. 

It's possible to get all the way around the ground.

Radio Cornwall
The insatiable Cup Fever gripping the South West witnessed Matt Allen broadcasting updates to the eager people huddled by their radios back at home. Ok, that's a bit over the top but on a serious note it's great to see professional media providing live updates/coverage at this level.

The Match
We got the usual frenetic 100 mile an hour first fifteen minutes out the way and the proceedings fell into an established pattern that trademarked the rest of the game. 

Launceston were tireless in commitment, effort and spirit but it unfortunately fell short of the danger and menace being applied by the Cheddar side.

Composed on the ball, lightning on the break and never afraid to chance their arm The Cheesemen were worthy victors today and a 2 nil scoreline was not an exaggeration of the days business.

0-1 after 10 minutes, 0-2 on 55 minutes.

The game resembled a cheese sandwich. There was a fresh light slice of Launceston activity at the outset and final stages of play but wedged in the middle was a big block of prize winning Cheddar. All washed down by their joyous supporters with gallons of clubhouse ale.

Bet it was a happy trip back up the M5 to Somerset.

*Click photos to enlarge     

Sunday, 25 August 2019

A Bridge Too Far

Saturday 24th August 2019
South West Peninsula League West
Attendance: 51 (head count)
Admission: £5 and £3 concessions
Programme: Free 
Tea Hut Stuff: It was shut (honest)
Weather: Hot sunny day with a blustery gulf stream breeze
Parking: Pitch side view from the waste ground on top of the grass bank

Local Profile
Wadebridge is the gateway town before tourists hit the packed out publicised honey pots of Padstow, Rock and Port Isaac. Local celebrities with expensive property around here include Rick Stein, Gordon Ramsay and David (Brexit) Cameron. Apparently Doc Martin is set to join them, rumour has it he's doing a second viewing on a 3 bed semi just down the road from the new Aldi.

House prices are above average here as is the beer, the wine and the grub, bring your cheque book if you're planning a pre match meal. There are a couple of chippys in the centre but the one I tried on another visit looks quite nice but the food was dull.

Any long distance groundhoppers planning a visit to Bodieve Park now have the convenient option to book a cheap room at the Premier Inn which is next door to the ground (you might spot it in one of the snaps below).

Getting In
Not much crowd congestion at the entrance today, I counted around 50 in the ground, most of them had made the 22 mile journey from Liskeard.

Came across what looked like the old admission shack at the far end of the ground. Don't make em like this anymore. Some clubs get them flat pack from the B&M economy store these days.

Match Programme
Wadebridge supply a free programme which is a nice touch especially as I forked out 2 pounds for a similar looking effort at Saltash United in the week. 

I was ready to go BIG at the Tea Hut today but surprisingly found the catering unit unattended without signs of life (the unit is a room in a corner of the clubhouse). This was 10 minutes before kick off and it was still as dormant at half time? Strange. 

Some faceless official from the club later put a nasty post on Twitter more or less calling me a liar for saying it was shut. They reckoned a lady was in there all the time. Weird. Either she had a nervous disposition and was hiding behind the cooker or she'd got so bored she decided to trundle off home to watch a repeat of Poldark. Perhaps they like having cheap digs at people who tell it like it is.

Wadebridge have a Main Stand which looks like something off that 'Grand Designs' TV programme that features quirky buildings. There are 3 rows of plastic bucket seats which should offer a great view from the height they're positioned at, the snag is the steel railings to stop you falling onto the pitch, the railings somewhat spoil a clear view of the football below. Today there was me and half a dozen other folk in the seats. Seems the club provide game time entertainment in the stand to keep you awake, today we had noisy unsupervised under 8's children running amongst the seats relentlessly banging the chairs. Made a terribly noisy racket which was totally ignored by the people in charge. Not a parent in sight. Bit concerning safety wise bearing in mind the height of the stand should the kids start climbing the rail protecting people from the significant drop to the pitch?

The other stand at the ground is at the Gordon Ramsey End, that's the direction his multi million pound small village (home) is located. The stand is named after Ron Williams who built the original structure at Bodieve Park (quite refreshing Ron wasn't a celebrity chef or some incompetent politician that's co-ordinated our Broken Britain status).

There is plenty of grass banking around the rest of the ground which provides excellent views of the pitch.

The Match
Red of Wadebridge against the blue of Liskeard, another classic kit profile.

A frenetic and enthusiastically contested encounter throughout.

Wadebridge styled a robust long ball method of play whilst Liskeard stuck with a passing game.

The home side snatched a 10th minute lead before Liskeard struck back on the half hour. To be honest the game strategy objectives set out by optimistic coaching staff had visibly gone 'off-road' by half time. This could be verified by the howling emitting from the dugouts beside the halfway line.

Perhaps the difference between the sides was the finishing power of Liskeards highly talented striker James Lorenz. He rifled home goals in the 55th and 70th minute to basically cut Wadebridge adrift from the match. 

Wadebridge got a goal late on and at 2-3 Liskeard had a dicey few minutes before the final whistle but they survived to go 4th in what looks to be a highly competitive league table.

Anyone looking for a good game to watch next Saturday should pencil in the FA Vase Cup Tie where SWPL East big guns Bovey Tracey take on this vibrant young Liskeard side. Certainly looks like being a real East meets West face off for sure.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Tamar Terminators

Wednesday 21st August 2019
South West Peninsula League West
Attendance: 102
Admission: £6 and £4 concessions
Programme: Think it was £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Steak Pasty £2.90 (last one in the warmer)
Weather: Nice bright evening, mild and dry, slight chill creeping in later
Parking: Leisure centre car park right next to the ground

It's been a cracking start to the South West Peninsula League season. The FA restructuring programme for non league football cast a dark cloud when first announced and granted it may now be causing some regions problems, however as regards the South West and the SWPL splitting into respective Cornwall & Devon divisions (West and East) I think it's introduced some new life into the proceedings, especially the West Division. There are goals galore, clubs that have been pushed up the pyramid from lesser levels are beating established top division sides and there's plenty of debate about some of the early season favourites finding it a lot tougher than expected.

When considering SWPL title favourites they don't come much stronger than Saltash United. Under the stewardship of the Matthew Cusack and Dane Bunney management team they really are a fine footballing side. Apparently Launceston themselves have improved their squad over the summer and it should all make for an interesting encounter.

Saltash local landmarks: Things to do before the game
Saltash is rumoured to have one of the biggest Charity Shop Superstores in the world. They've even got checkouts in there like Morrisons & Tescos. Make a day of it and enjoy a stodgy Macdonalds or an overpriced Costa at the adjacent drive ins. 

Getting In
The entrance to the ground is opposite the playing field to the right of the leisure centre, just walk down the path along the outside of the clubhouse. I paid in & got a 50/50 ticket and a programme. When counting my change I fathomed out the programme must have cost 2 quid? Either that or there had been an unfortunate mistake. I like to get a programme at games, it serves as a nice record of where you've been. Without being critical, because I understand the design effort and cost of publishing, I did feel £2 was a tad steep for what's in it. Perhaps £1.50 might have been more palatable. No disrespect intended.

Tea Hut
Bit hard to locate initially, especially if it's your first visit. You'll find it at the far end of the clubhouse by the corner flag. There is the usual menu of gut buster stuff all of which is probably very bad for you. 

I decided to bin my recent healthy eating programme, primarily as I wasn't being monitored by Boss Hog (the wife) and order what turned out to be the last pasty in the pie warmer cabinet. £2.90 for a steak one. The lady informed me it was from Rowes whom I believe have a new bakery down at Penryn near Falmouth. It looks a bit dried up on the photo but apart from a couple of hard crusty bits it was really tasty with plenty of meat included.

The Ground
Superb looking playing surface here which played really well all evening.
The Main Stand is an attractive choice to watch the action from, it resides by the halfway line with built in dressing rooms for players and officials.

The clubhouse had the local MP down here recently, which is an achievement in itself and you can appreciate why, it's been further improved and offers a welcoming environment to have a pre (& post) match drink with the added razzmatazz of televised football from the Millionaires League.
The Town Centre End has a large grass bank which affords great views of the pitch. Nice for a picnic early season or why not partake in the outdoor pursuit of mud sliding during one of the mid winter fixtures.
The side of the pitch opposite the stand has a raised bank which means you can see over the top of the dugouts, this is another fine spot to witness the game. 

The victorian houses behind lend a nice charismatic backdrop to the stadium.
Saltash do like an information sign and they really do a fine job promoting the club and all its fixtures.

The Gateway to Cornwall end of the ground is just hard standing.

Kick Off
Saltash have a great red and white striped traditional kit and it was nice to see Launceston in a very smart Napoli styled number. Such an improvement on some of the atrocious designs the major manufacturers are fooling some gullible football league clubs into wearing.

Bench Work
The Cusack & Bunney pitchside presence is almost at celebrity status levels in the South West Peninsula League.

Gary Jeffery and Matt Hodgetts are the Launceston management team.

Media Coverage
Quite a lot of non league clubs are developing their media profiles these days, Saltash included.

Match Summary
Truly a whirlwind first quarter from the home side. Some sublime attack patterns with both Ryan Richards and Sam Hughes running absolute riot. 

Launceston simply couldn't cope with it early on, they gradually formulated a more robust defence strategy (which even allowed them the isolated counter attack) but the damage was terminal. 

4-1 midway through the first half says it all. Half time it was 5-2 with the visitors recovering well. Some may say Saltash took their foot off the gas, they were probably reserving energy for the second half.

After the break Launceston had more possession and certainly had chances going forwards. As for Saltash there was no turbo charged repeat from that first half but they still squandered a multitude of efforts on goal. Some of the attempts were just unlucky not to go in but quite a good number were a result of misplaced shots on goal. This is nitpicking with a final scoreline of 6-2. Think I was being greedy and hoping for some more of the magic they thrilled the crowd with early doors. 

Saltash look a very good side on this performance. As for Launceston, many a side would have been blown away completely tonight, the visitors regrouped well under immense pressure and competed well for large parts of the game, they have scope for improvement and shouldn't be too down hearted.

Saltash have got St Austell here next Saturday, possibly the two best performing sides in the league at the moment?