Chilly damp snaps from a memorable jaunt Up North
AFC Emley 1 Leeds Carnegie 2
January 15th 2011
Northern Counties East League Division 1
Admission 4 quid
Hello again, been quite a while since the Tea Hut put anything out.
Well we're still here but like almost everyone else we've been living the lockdown.
It's important we all stay sensible and safe, hopefully the vaccine programmes will pave the way for a return to attending football matches again next season.
Once we do get the green light to get to a game Where's The Tea Hut will be there with the usual Visit Reports and Photographs.
There have been a couple of additions to the Tea Hut Team personnel wise since the last match postings so we'll see various articles and possibly the odd new sport getting a look in.
Further updates will appear on the Tea Hut site as the big return gains momentum.
In the meantime here is a tasty reminder of the culinary treats we'll be savouring once we get through the turnstiles (or more likely the shack at the gate). Some wonderful matchday pasties from the South West courtesy of Elburton Villa, Saltash United, Torpoint Athletic and Plymouth Parkway.
Saturday 5th September 2020
South West Peninsula League East
BOVEY TRACEY 1 CREDITON UNITED 2
Attendance: 80 (dodgy head count)
Admission: Bargain £4 or £2 concessions
Programme: Bit slim but only 50p
Weather: Plenty of sunshine, occasional scattered cloud
Parking: Club car park, beware, its small & you get blocked in
Left Cornwall early afternoon and bribed the guards at the Tamar Border Control (the bloke in the booth selfishly took 2 quid off me). I was soon jaunting up the A38 dodging erratic homeward bound holiday makers still razzled from their last night binge in the caravan.
Bovey Tracey is a lovely little place on the eastern edge of Dartmoor. I'd visited this area when I lived Up North. I had a contract to do Safety Inspections at a premises on the nearby Heathfield Industrial Estate. Usually took me 2 hours and I got expenses to stay in a big flashy hotel in Torquay, those were the days.
Great to see the home club respecting Covid 19 precautions, they had a signing in book for track & trace and automatic sanitiser units both at the entrance and the clubhouse. Also got the luxury of hot water, plenty of liquid soap and plentiful paper towels in the toilets, bit like that fancy hotel I mentioned back in Torquay. Benches and a few tables had been appropriately well spaced outside the clubhouse and it was nice to see people casually having a drink or a snack before kick off. The social distancing pitch side was pretty much ok, you'll always get a nob-head who ignores it but I only had to move the once so the matchday experience wasn't too anxious. Full marks to Bovey Tracey.
Mill Marsh Park is a picturesque place to watch football with scenic views through the trees to the Dartmoor foothills. There aren't the old school trappings that groundhoppers crave but the place is neat and tidy, has a great looking pitch and there is a small stand with seating and a similar covered unit on the far side for those wishing to stand up (probably a popular spot when the winter kicks in).
The match itself was a keenly contested affair with little to choose between the sides. There was the obvious early season rustiness but plenty of free flowing play which often resulted in near misses or the dreaded fluffed sitter. Crediton went into a two nil half time lead with a couple of well taken goals and their solid defence obviously posed a problem for home side objectives to turn things around.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first but gradually Bovey Tracey expanded the pressure and took more of a grip. What probably had a deciding affect on the proceedings was the strange occurrence of Sean Finch, one of the home teams strikers, being sin binned for dissent not once but twice! The second occasion quickly followed the first and witnessed a gobsmacked Sean trudging off the pitch after he'd just knocked a 25 yard free kick into the Crediton net. Apparently the Referee adjudged there was a Bovey Tracey player illegally affecting the Crediton wall.
Rumour has it a voice was heard telling the Referee to F-Off, the Referee thought it was Sean although those around the incident were of the opinion that the abuse came from a spectator on the touchline. Having a cracking goal disallowed and going back to 10 men really put the home side up against it and despite grabbing one back with a scrambled goal in the last minute and then the drama of a last gasp free kick Crediton took the 3 points.
Tuesday 1st September 2020
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
MILLBROOK 0 BRIDGWATER TOWN 1
Admission: £5 & £3 concessions
Programme: £1 on cover but given out free
Parking: Back up the nearby housing estate
Weather: Calm sunny evening, ground looked lovely
Thankfully there were no millionaire opinionated Managers & pampered players sat on sun loungers in exclusive foreign hotels instead of turning out for the FA Cup tonight, we'll be spared that embarrassment until mid winter. The disrespectful antics of Klopp & Co couldn't be further from the pride Millbrook Football Club had for our greatest Cup Competition this evening. This was their first ever FA Cup tie in their 132 year history. It is a sad fact of money-mad modern football that only non league clubs and a diminishing number of lower football league sides treat the competition with the respect it deserves.
That very same respect and the work and effort Millbrook have applied to get a continually improving Jenkins Park ready for this occasion was rewarded by an impressive turn out of football supporters.
Jenkins Park, (named after local Millbrook born professional footballer and my boyhood hero centre forward Reg Jenkins who still remains a legend at the Spotland home of Rochdale AFC) was buzzing with eager anticipation when I arrived. There was half an hour before kick off and the car park was full. I've been here a good few times before and its the first time I've had to dump The Match Shed in the nearby housing estate. There was ale and al fresco burgers everywhere as punters enjoyed the vista of the well kept ground from outside the clubhouse. I just hope many of those enjoying the occasion will be back for the bread and butter games in the South West Peninsula League East.
Bridgwater Town play at the level above Millbrook, Step 5, in the Toolstation Western League. They provided stern committed opposition, this included the ability to play free flowing football alongside the craft of rugged defending. It is a credit to the current standard of football in the SWPL that Millbrook not only matched their esteemed visitors, they actually out played them. The pressure the home side applied in the second half would have seen most sides crack open, not Bridgwater, they dug the trench and defended it with all they'd got. It was one of their rare counter attacks that broke the spell of the magical Jenkins Park spectacle. A speculative shot from the corner of the 18 yard area on a rare jaunt forward somehow slipped into the corner of the Millbrook net and a multitude of groans hummed across the local fields down to the Tamar beyond. Bridgwater got the shovels out and dug the trench deeper. Millbrook threw all they'd got at them, goalmouth scrambles and battered woodwork ensued but the Bridgwater ranks held firm.
Wonderful cup tie.
Makes me cower with shame when I think of our big wig, big gob cash ridden big club Managers. Just watch them put the stiffs and the kids out next time they play a lower league club in the 3rd round proper. Get to an FA Cup match now if you can, it's miles better with the non league clubs involved.
If you've not been to Jenkins Park yet, try it, you won't be disappointed, lovely clubhouse, proper tea hut grub wise, a charismatic main stand and some jolly decent football to watch. Nice picturesque village to sample too.
Saturday 29th August 2020
Pre Season Friendly
CALLINGTON TOWN 0 NEWTON ABBOT SPURS 5
Attendance: 30 (head count)
Weather: Long sunny spells, cloud built up second half
Parking: Adjacent school car park
Callington is a quiet little town in Cornwall not far from the Devon border. Apart from a Tesco, Spar shop, B&M and a Chippy its main focal point is the big Ginsters Pasty Factory. Depending which way the breeze is blowing you can often smell the Ginsters delicacies drifting over the town. No wonder the football club are nicknamed The Pasty Men, saying that I didn't notice any bloaters in the Callington team for this fixture.
The football ground, Marshfield Parc is located at the back of the local community school just north of the tiny town centre on the A388. Look out for the roadside sign near the entrance. Follow the entrance road through the school until you reach the car park, from here follow the path through the green metal fence until you see the club entrance.
Last week I went to a match in Cornwall and was put off by the lack of Covid 19 precautions, after a few days wondering if I should carry on going along to games during these stressful, anxious times I decided to not let this horrible virus rob me of what I've enjoyed doing for the best part of my life, so sod it, Corona disease can bugger off, I'll do my own Risk Assessment and keep myself safe at the grounds I visit irrespective of whether they provide a full range of protective measures or otherwise. We need to keep the faith and support grass roots non league football. Rant over.
I'd initially seen Callington promote this attractive looking fixture with Newton Abbot Spurs on Twitter, it came with the strap line of "better get here early" on the basis of only 150 spectators would be allowed in. I rolled up ten minutes before kick off and was the 7th person in the ground. The groundsman had just started marking out the pitch. On the plus side it was a lovely day so I wasn't too miffed at the game kicking off a little later than it should have done.
On the subject of the ground staff I must mention that the playing surface looked an absolute treat.
The ground itself is one of those mixed bag locations. Parts of it are stunningly attractive (especially in the sunshine) like the large clubhouse with its patio overlooking the pitch at the top of the grass banking, then we have the rather more ordinary looking vista of the changing room buildings behind the goals at the School End, functional yes and perfectly acceptable but that clubhouse spoils you with it's glorious profile.
Seating is available in one of the small standard flat pack stands you witness at so many places these days. I counted only around 30 people watching today so there was plenty of room to safely watch the game from various pitchside locations around all sides of the ground.
Callington Town play in the South West Peninsula League West, their visitors are members of the East section of the same League.
I had gathered that both sides were involved in squad rebuilding programmes for the upcoming season so it was a good opportunity to gauge the standard and judge how things were progressing.
What I witnessed was a decent quality friendly, which is a bit of a rarity these days. Newton Abbot Spurs in particular looked very impressive indeed. They appeared strong all over the pitch and obviously believed in knocking the ball about. They were soon creating a significant amount of chances and had romped into a 3-0 lead by half time, with no disrespect to a gallant Callington outfit it could have been a much bigger margin.
Callington applied more composure in the second half but the visitors still retained the upper hand. Plentiful substitutions obviously affected the flow of football but the game still kept the small crowd interested, we even got the bonus of a pre season friendly punch up which emphasised just how committed both sides were. The referee had a good game keeping a lid on the proceedings and establishing down to earth communication with both sets of players.
Newton Abbot eventually ran out worthy 5-0 winners and will surely take confidence from the outing. For Callington I feel it is more of a work in progress but there definitely is a foundation to build upon, they have some talented individual players, especially the keeper, he had a very impressive performance, that 5-0 scoreline would be far greater without some top class keeping on show.
All in all a good little friendly which importantly made me feel much more confident about going along to football again.
Visit Rating 7/10
Following agreement that Step 6 and above non league clubs would partake in Risk Assessment disciplines and apply appropriate precautions to protect spectators from Covid 19 threats the Government agreed to let controlled levels of people watch grass roots football again.
There has been lots of publicity on Social Media about the positive steps non league clubs are taking to keep spectators safe with the intention of allowing people to feel comfortable in attending grounds.
I put this to the test in Cornwall last Saturday. I went along to a keenly advertised pre season friendly featuring a well known prominent Step 6 South West Peninsula League side. As expected, a good number of their supporters attended the game.
Upon arrival I was shocked and surprised the host club hadn't applied any Covid precautions for the game whatsoever. The type of measures being expected by the authorities are well known and extensive, I shall not bore you with the lengthy list only to state not a single discipline was in place, nothing. It was like the pandemic had never happened.
There wasn't a large crowd at the game but the bulk of those in attendance grouped together directly behind the dug outs in quite sizable numbers. On the opposite side of the pitch another few groups of people could be seen, not ones or two's but groups of 8 to 10 who all seemed to know each other. There was also a bar serving ale pitchside where another large group of people gathered. The concern with all the aforementioned groups is that none of them were socially distancing. People from the bar were even bringing their pints down to the touchline. I decided to keep apart from what was going on which resulted in me constantly having to move into open space. When those passing me from the dug out area or public bar came past they failed to consider keeping even a metre separate from me despite 10 yards of open space behind me.
The whole event was a complete farce as regards even the faintest degree of compliance with Covid safety precautions.
I can sadly understand some people won't have a problem with breaking the rules and ignoring safety considerations, personally I found the experience uncomfortable and concerning, certainly something which doesn't inspire me with confidence for watching football in Cornwall.
Like many situations relevant to Covid 19 precautions in Cornwall, especially during the holiday season, it appears a sizeable proportion of the population seem to think Corona Virus controls do not apply to them.
I sincerely hope what I witnessed was an isolated incident and the rest of non league clubs down here don't fall into the same mess I endured at this particular club.
Cornwall has unfortunately become an environment more akin to Tombstone in the Wild West than part of the United Kingdom, especially in the seaside resorts and beauty spots. Lets just remember nearly 50,000 people have died in the UK from Covid so far!
I shall not be naming the clubs who were involved in this fixture but on the off chance they read this article I would welcome them starting to take notice of what is happening in this country at the moment.
There weren't that many Cornwall friendlies on Saturday 22nd August so it shouldn't be too hard to identify who made a mockery of things.