Where's The Tea Hut reflects upon local football South West style with a few trips further afield. Keep the faith & stay safe.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

SWPL Charity Vase at Elburton Villa

Sunday 28th July 2019
South West Peninsula League Charity Vase
Attendance: 82 (head count)
Admission: £5 & £3 concessions (2 games, the Vase & the Charity Bowl later)
Programme: Free! Good one too
Tea Hut Stuff: Steak Pasty £2.20, loved it
Weather: Cloudy but pleasantly warm, got the odd sunny spell
Parking: Club car park, got packed out as the afternoon progressed

The SWPL Charity Day is a smashing day out. They put 2 games on, The Vase and The Bowl. I was only doing the Vase today which was between last seasons Division 1 champions from the East and West divisions, Stoke Gabriel & Liskeard Athletic respectively.

Money raised from the admission charge and raffles is passed to the League Benevolent Fund. The Fund helps persons from the League or Member Clubs who need assistance following injury, illness or unfortunate circumstances.

This was the last Charity Vase fixture we'll see, FA league restructuring means the SWPL will now operate 2 Premier Leagues (East & West Regions for Devon and Cornwall), there will no longer be the Division One leagues.

The Ground
Elburton Villa kindly provided a welcoming neutral venue for todays action. They are a SWPL Premier League East club based a couple of miles up the road from Plymouth City Centre. There's a bar, tea hut and what looks to be ongoing development taking place. They were excellent hosts for the proceedings.

The ground has an attractive old school covered enclosure at the clubhouse end of the stadium which also houses the admission unit. There are a few seats under cover which give a great view of the action.

The Main Stand lies about a quarter way down the touchline. I get the impression this will be a popular spot during winter, especially when the rain comes in off the Atlantic.

That's it structure wise. There is plenty of grass banking to watch from at the clubhouse end and beside the Main Stand, the stand roof and the dug outs can get in the way a bit but there's plenty of room to pick the right spot.

The rest of the ground is railed with hard standing everywhere apart from the side opposite the Main Stand. I don't think one is meant to view from this area as its just grass underfoot with a narrow gap between the pitch and the mesh fence which prevents the ball getting lost. To be fair there is a rail in place at each corner flag which is probably meant to stop people viewing here but today saw a few spectators wandering through. Watch out for the nettles if you've got shorts on, my leg is still stinging now. Think it could also get a bit boggy on a wet day.

Tea Hut
The Tea Hut is adjacent to the Bar outside the ground so you are best loading up before entering the stadium. There was a pass-out scheme in operation today which the club will probably apply for their league games.

There are burgers, confectionery and hot & cold drinks on offer. I was tempted by a reasonably priced Steak Pasty (£2.20) which was absolutely delicious, the lady in the hut informed me it was from Pilgrim Pasties. The same Company have a large stall in Plymouth Indoor Market back in the centre. I'll be stocking up next time I'm down there.

The Match
I couldn't stay all afternoon so I picked this game rather than The Charity Bowl match between Saltash United & Tavistock later on. Sadly it was a rather tame affair. Apparently, although Stoke Gabriel were on fire last season it turns out almost the entire squad and management have left. I'm not sure of the reasons but it has evidently had a knock on effect as regards them getting a side together for the upcoming season. 15 minutes before kick off todays squad only had 8 players warming up? By kick off they'd got the 11 they needed but didn't have any subs. I also got the impression that certain players on show were not the recognised choices for first team selection. I think the officials sensibly cut them some slack so we actually got a game taking place. Not what you want to witness for what should be a prestigious event. The Stoke Gabriel manager did a tremendous job coaching some of the side through the game in what were extremely unenviable circumstances. 

Needless to say Liskeard bossed the encounter as Stoke Gabriel more or less parked the bus. I don't think Liskeard used the top gears as they coasted to a 2-0 half time lead. Second half saw more of the same although Stoke Gabriel did invade the opposition half a few times, on one of these raids they actually got on the score sheet.

Liskeard won 4-1 and did nothing wrong, apart from fluffing plenty of chances, they strolled it to be honest. A nice bit of silverware for this improving side, they always play decent football under the management team of Richard Woods and Martin Hodge. 

As for the neutral, unfortunately it was pretty much pants, especially as it was supposed to be a match-up between league champions.

There was a nice little presentation after the final whistle made by the SWPL. 

To increase my disappointment I learned later that the other game being played was an absolute cracker with Saltash just pipping Tavistock 6-5, yep, that's 11 goals in 90 minutes and by all accounts an unmissable end to end classic. I'll get me coat..... 

Thursday, 25 July 2019

"Down At Mill"

Wednesday 24th July 2019
Another of the Pre Season Friendly jaunts
Attendance: 98 (head count). Club figure was 161, must be my new specs
Admission: £5 (£3 concession for old timers & con merchants)
Programme: Don't publish for friendlies
Tea Hut Selection: Steak Pasty 3 quid
Weather: Cloudy but warm, bit muggy & humid, odd late sunny spell
Parking: On the narrow lane leading down to the ground

Local Grub
Found the chippy that has all the raves on Trip Adviser, look out for the sign on the left as you approach the centre, its tucked away down a side street.

Pub Picks
Plenty of boozer type establishments in the town, some more visually appealing than others, here's 2 nicer looking ones, they come with a Royalty connection.

Tourist Attractions
In your dreams.
Here's the best I could find, the Car Ferry & some shops. If you're stacked with cash there is a National Trust Estate a couple of miles out the town called Antony House, only opens sporadically, mainly summertime.

Getting In
Despite TV & Media propaganda endlessly talking-up low-entertainment sporting events over recent weeks genuine football fans are glad to get back to the real thing, even if it's just a friendly.

The Mill: Home of Torpoint Athletic
Certainly one of the better grounds in the South West Peninsula League. Torpoint have been placed in the newly introduced East Section of the competition structure. They'll be facing mainly sides from Devon this season rather than a selection of Cornwall clubs who've visited the stadium in the past.

There are some charismatic yet practical structures at The Mill which prove popular for both standing and seated supporters.

The Tea Hut
Torpoint provided an excellent example of one of my favourite attractions at a football ground. Hot drinks, hot food and welcoming friendly staff. You can even sit outside, can't see the al fresco happening in November?

One of the reasons I arrived half an hour before kick off was to get in the Tea Hut ahead of the greedy buggers from Parkway. I bagged one of the hot Steak Pasties just before half a dozen of the grub hunters marched through the door. The pasties are made by Dashers who have an outlet in the town centre. Jolly nice too, I hope the photo does it credit. Well worth the £3 in the expensive holiday season South West.

Bench Work
Couple of snaps of the Plymouth Parkway bench in action. A club very much on the up whom many reckon were extremely unlucky not to be Western League champions last season. Pipped by Willand Rovers.

The Game
Not been much rain recently which left a visible impression on the pitch. A few threadbare patches were evident (bit like my garden) but it is unfair to say it was a poorly kept surface. Come the rains, the greenery will return. I thought the pitch still provided a decent level surface for the game.

A slightly strange accompaniment to the action was a loud thumping disco in the Clubhouse, this was in progress at kick off and getting even louder come full time? Wouldn't fancy being a neighbour if that racket's a regular occurrence.
The Boney M & Bee Gee's tirade didn't appear to put the players off their game, they served up a rewarding encounter which was competitive throughout and above normal friendly standards.

Parkway seemed to be struggling with gearbox problems for a good part of the first half and Torpoint took advantage, they look a promising outfit for the SWPL campaign ahead, a 1-0 half time lead for the home side was justified reward for their endeavours. Mr Hobbs must have chose his words appropriately for the Parkway half time team talk, needless to say they looked a much better outfit during the second period. Within 3 minutes they'd got the equaliser. Bit of a surprise for the away following when Torpoint thumped a second one home to retake the lead, it was game on again. Parkway heeded the shouts from the boss not to panic but provide the quality. This they truly achieved as they finally slipped effortlessly through the gears to leave Torpoint back at the Ferry Shelter. It ended 2-3 with the home side battling hard to keep within the single goal deficit. They may have lost the game but provided their band of support with plenty to look forward to for the season ahead. Parkway are a class act yet Torpoint certainly gave them a game this evening.

Grumble Factor
Saw my first sin bin for dissent tonight, Torpoint the offenders. It wouldn't have been a surprise if a Parkway player received 10 minutes off the pitch as well. There was some terrible moaning and grumbling from both sides. The Referee, who had a very good game, provided everyone with numerous friendly warnings (which sharpened in intensity) but still both sides just kept on back chatting and being ridiculously naive. Bit daft considering it was only a friendly, the Ref was fully correct to apply the new rule.

Come the final whistle I decided to swerve 'boogie nights' over at the Disco and head back west. Too old for that rubbish (well, it was only a Wednesday).

Sunday, 21 July 2019

St Cleer 2 Launceston Reserves 1

Saturday 20th July 2019
Pre Season Friendly
St Cleer 2 Launceston Reserves 1
Attendance: 26 (roughly)
Admission: Free
Programme: Stop being silly
Tea Hut Stuff: Could smell the makings of a BBQ second half
Weather: Reasonably warm, slight breeze, sunny spells & dry
Parking: Club car park

St Cleer FC have been promoted to the East Cornwall Premier League and have a super little set up north of the village at the Parish Sports Field. This picture perfect community on the edge of Bodmin Moor is just a few miles up the road from Liskeard which has the benefits of the A38 & a main line rail network. The countryside around St Cleer is tremendous. It's a lovely area with the bonus of having a hard working grass roots football club that is well respected for nurturing young players and playing the game the right way.

For anyone contemplating a worthwhile visit to the village you may initially be a little lost in immediately spotting the usual grub-hunter outlets expected in the bigger football localities. There is a lively new Wetherspoons back in Liskeard but you may favour something slightly more local? Fear not, with a quick search on Google you'll easily locate some satisfying tucker. There are tasty hot local pasties at the Horizon Farm Shop just down the hill near Tremar. 

There are also some substantial big plate dinners to be enjoyed at the Cheesewring Hotel/Pub about 2 and a quarter miles eastbound. Be careful, you may need to lie down afterwards. The Cheesewring Hotel also appear to be the shirt sponsors for St Cleer FC which makes the establishment even more deserving. 

If you can't get a table at the popular Cheesewring try the Market Inn or the Stag Inn back in the village or the Crows Nest Pub which is also nearby. Plentiful supplies of some really good food and jolly refreshing ales await you. 

Today witnessed the respected South West Peninsula League West side Launceston providing some challenging opposition for St Cleer. They despatched a more than capable Reserve Squad as the First Team had a pressing fixture over at Plymouth. I was impressed with the standard of football on offer from both sides at such an early stage of the season. 

Cornwall had plenty of rain the day previous, the first for 4 weeks, it complimented what seemed to be a good playing surface as both sides had little difficulty knocking the ball about early doors. This is a well kept little ground.

Midway through the first half Launceston took the lead with an impressive strike from outside the box but it was St Cleer who looked the more dominant with valuable possession, unfortunately for the home supporters they just couldn't turn the ball retention into goal scoring opportunities.

The referee did what was within his control to deal with the usual claims for various dodgy misdemeanours. An objective that wasn't entirely complemented by a few dubious linesman decisions (each club provides 1 linesman each at this level). I'm sure the respective liners did their best under the circumstances? Personally I thought the Ref did pretty well all in all. 

You always see things happening at non league level that would be completely unheard of at an EFL or Premier League game. I had to smile at the chap with the big drill mingling amongst the spectators in the stand doing a bit of DIY fixing up advertising signs, everyone just got on with watching the game oblivious to the commotion.

HT 0-1 to Launceston

The second half was soon joined by the unmistakable waft of an appetising BBQ, plumes of seasoned smoke drifted above the roof of the little stand tempting the less interested souls from the action. The St Cleer club had their reserve side playing after the main match against a St Minver Select so they were obviously going to be making a full day of it grub & ale wise. 

In the 58th minute the home side got the equaliser, not long after they surged ahead 2-1, the rigid Launceston defence had finally parted and St Cleer took the opportunity to take a firmer grip on the proceedings. Nobody was giving an inch without a struggle and unusually for a friendly game we got a full on fisticuffs brawl. There were only 2 combatants, everybody else on the pitch simply tried to separate them. At least one couldn't argue that the two clubs weren't taking the proceedings seriously. Turned out a better knockdown than one of those extortionately overpriced fight-nights that Sky Sports keep pushing. 

St Cleer got the win but Launceston didn't lose any credibility in commitment. A decent little pre season friendly on a pleasant July afternoon.

I do love that little stand St Cleer have. Excellent at this level of football.

Good luck to both clubs for the coming season.