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

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Cornwall Covid Case Crisis!

Some of you will already know of the rocketing Covid infections in Cornwall following the Boardmasters Music Festival at Watergate Bay, Newquay.

Cornwall has gone from the safest place in the UK to the most dangerous.

Doubtless, the situation has been made far worse by the insane Tourist Binge in the South West. 

For a County that only has a single functioning hospital, ridiculously minimal GP services and hardly what you'd classify a visible Police Force to keep any kind of order, the situation at the moment is extremely worrying. 

It appears the vast majority of the thousands of holidaymakers and party animals are in tunnel vision denial that the UK is still struggling with a dangerous pandemic. Apparently, they seem to be of the opinion that Mr Johnson has opened everything up because the virus has gone away?

There are numerous first hand accounts on social media of people who attended the supposedly safe Boardmasters event last weekend dropping like flies with virus infections. It is thought they have in turn taken Covid back to their home location post codes and hey-presto things have got dramatically out of control.

There are already football matches being postponed because actual players have come down with the virus (evidently some of them attended the festival).

I am saddened to announce that 'Where's The Tea Hut' visits will be put on hold until further notice, it is simply not safe to attend events until some degree of control has been re-established in the South West, especially chaotic Cornwall.

Part of the reasoning for this decision is that there has been a massive push from the hospitality trade to get people down to Cornwall, sadly, it is clear little or zero planning took place with the so called Authorities to safely cater for the sheer number of tourists. What the holidaymakers have been able to get up to is another matter but it does appear they are allowed to do as they please and to hell with the repercussions. They genuinely believe that because they are on holiday they don't need to bother with any kind of Covid precautions.

I and many other people who live here hope the current situation improves sooner rather than later.

Stay safe out there, it doesn't matter if you're double jabbed, plenty have still got the virus after convincing themselves it had been defeated. Look after yourselves and respect precautions for the benefit of others. 

Krugg 19.8.21

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Polperro 7 Millbrook Reserves 1

Saturday 14th August

St Pirans League


Attendance: 38 (head count)

Admission: Free

Parking: The ground is on a large field so you can pull up wherever you like

Weather: Warm dry afternoon after an indifferent morning, light cloud

My first encounter with the Cornwall St Pirans League and most enjoyable too.

Polperro attained entry to this level the previous season after performing remarkably well in the ECPL (East Cornwall Premier League). 

They're now in the mix with other aspiring local non league clubs alongside various Reserve sides from higher levels of the FA Pyramid, mainly from the South West Peninsula League. Millbrook Reserves have links to a higher league still, their first team play in the well known Toolstation Western League Premier Division. Big test for Polperro then?

The Where's The Tea Hut site already has a comprehensive ground guide for Polperro FC still available in the archive section to be found on the right hand column on the webpage. You'll find it under the 2017-18 heading. This particular report for the Millbrook match also reflects on what you'll find at this friendly little club but more in relation to recent developments.

I'd arrived early in the area, it is absolutely stunning coastal countryside around Polperro. I took a nearby saunter to the South West Coast Path literally 5 minutes from the ground. Go to the end of the approach lane to the ground from the Main Road, turn left at the junction, in about a hundred yards you'll see a public footpath sign, take the stone and gravel track and step over the stile at the far end of the field. The footpath soon feeds into Coastal Path section for Polperro to Looe. It's usually pretty quite on the path but with the massive amount of tourists in the area, mainly due to our pandemic related staycation monster the quaint little footpath resembles a footfall motorway, never seen it as busy in Cornwall as this summer.

Anyway, back to the Polperro Ground. The main features are a recently developed Clubhouse which is open but still reaching final completion and it really looks the business. There is a well stocked bar and amazingly luxurious toilet facilities for a non league set up, the place has that unmistakable feel of quality about it.

Punters were eagerly partaking in pints of ale and cups of tea during the afternoon, excellent to see at this level. The other addition since I last took a look at the place back in 2018 is the Matt Pengelly Stand on the halfway line. With the usual Cornish wintertime weather I can see this being the go-to location for those wonderfully wet, misty encounters from November to March.

As regards the match, Polperro were mighty impressive, there was an obvious culture of commitment, endeavour and unity about them which resulted in plentiful portions of attacking football. Their visitors associated with the big Western League fancy wrapper didn't fair too well, they looked decidedly uncooked, slightly wayward and more than a little fragmented, perhaps they had a few absentees for various reasons, the Covid bug can still ravage a sides preparations and of course there was that big pop festival taking place in the Newquay area (Boardmasters), an event that tends to attract the less loyal players on the books, a factor which has often been used by many a club as an attractive excuse for an unfortunate tonking, got to sympathise with coaches and managers in these situations, I got the impression, my apology if I'm wrong, that the visitors may have had a couple of players missing or playing in unfamiliar positions, the Millbrook coach was doing his very utmost to guide and sensibly encourage his players during the afternoon but all to no avail.

The game ended in a resounding 7-1 victory for Polperro, being perfectly honest, no disrespect to Millbrook, the home side should have doubled that scoreline, never seen so many gilt edged chances squandered. There was a cohesion and class about their play evident from kick-off, perhaps they know the tricky contours of the pitch so well, perhaps they wanted to apply a clear marker for this league campaign from the start, who knows but it certainly seemed to work. You could tell they cared so much by all the evident frustration they expressed at the solitary Millbrook goal.

Think Polperro might be well worth keeping an eye on during this seasons St Pirans League.  

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Okehampton Argyle 2 Torrington 2

Wednesday 11th August 2021

South West Peninsula League East


Attendance: 146 (head count)

Admission: £4

Programme: Free at the entrance table

Weather: Varying levels of drizzle throughout the whole game

Parking: Tennis Club Car Park

Heading up from Cornwall gave me the opportunity to call in at Launceston for a tea time Jumbo Cod from one of the best fish and chip shops around, Francines. Never fails to impress, wonderful stuff.

Back on the A30 Northbound I was soon in Devon and winding down the approach road to the rather nice town of Okehampton. After a couple of wrong turns and ending up in the wrong car park I eventually rolled up at a Tennis Club (I think) which a passer by informed me the football club spectators use, I got the last legally available space to dump the Match Shed (version 2 now, last one suffered a terminal gear box failure).

I followed some others walking on foot down a path where halfway along a bloke at a small pub type table was taking money off people. He gave me a free programme and mumbled "keep following the path", the ground opens up before you, it's not fenced off at the moment which is why a bit further along some people at a second table said "it's 4 pounds Sir" I politely informed them I'd already given money to the man up the path to which they said "oh him, alright then, you can come in", it all seemed a little weird but hey ho, this is non league remember.

I'm led to believe part of the criteria for taking promotion to the South West Peninsula League from the Devon League South & West Division is to apply a perimeter fence and put floodlights up within a 2 year period. I'm sure things will be a lot more straightforward once this is achieved. 

Okehampton have a scenic spot for a ground here, there is a tall, steep gloriously wooded hillside behind the Stand on the halfway line which circles gently in decreasing levels beyond the other sides of the pitch. 

At the end where the people at the second table were busy confusing people there is a clubhouse with toilets, a bar area, refreshment window and player changing rooms. The pitch looked a little sun burned and seemed to sprawl outwards to significant proportions.

The weather wasn't the best, the South West had witnessed light rain for a good part of the day and it decided to camp out at Okehampton for the rest of the evening. It was the fine drizzle stuff the locals down Cornwall title 'mizzle', it still wets you through though which is why I had the brolly, strangely there were only two others in the ground who had the same, there were some rather damp punters come the final whistle.

Talking of the crowd, I counted almost 150 which wasn't bad for a 6.30pm kick off (due to the lack of lights etc.) A good few had come across from Torrington which was nice to see.

The match itself was keenly contested and like the game I'd seen the previous evening at St Cleer, tonight's Referee, who had a very good game by the way, was keen to let the game flow and ignore the rather feeble attempts to use dramatic licence to gain free kicks, I think the Ref's name was Lee Dudman (can't be sure, my apology if I'm wrong).

Chances came and went at both ends, we went through pleasant passages of inter changing passes but also saw fragmented spells of football where the game resembled something akin to a pinball machine. 

Allow me to cut to the chase, there were two significant factors that directly dominated the proceedings: 1) A low half hearted hit and hope corner from Okehampton forward Luke Alden somehow squeezed & bobbled past the Torrington keeper at his near post, one can only assume the ball nudged the post before the goalie got his hands to the ball because it did look an easy save to make. The home players welcomed the goal in jovial disbelief. This gave Okehampton a vital belief that they genuinely had something to hold onto for a lengthy spell of the game. 

As for factor 2) his name is Billy Tucker and he played a blinder for Torrington in this game, what a player, a superb all round performance, the way he took the away sides equalising goal near the end was absolute class. I'm sure I've seen Billy playing for Helston not too long ago. Torrington have one hell of a player on the books here.

All in all neither side could really feel hard done by with the shared spoils. It was an enjoyable game and a worthwhile visit to a nice little ground I'd not been to before.

I pointed the Match Shed for Cornwall and took the Tavistock road for a change of scenery from the A30, the rain stuck with me all the way, including a rather interesting fogbound section as I skirted Dartmoor. 


Wednesday, 11 August 2021

St Cleer 1 Gunnislake 2

 Tuesday 10th August

East Cornwall Premier League

Attendance: 57 (usual ropey head count)

Admission: Free (my favourite)

Weather: Nice sunny evening

Parking: Car Park full shocker!

I'm not venturing into paragraphs about Covid, there's enough been said already, all I will say is that it's absolutely fantastic to be able to watch live football again.

What better leg stretcher than a friendly incursion into the wonderful East Cornwall Premier League. A pleasant summer evening complimented the quaint village of St Cleer which is a few miles up the road from Liskeard. Bit of a shock to find the Car Park rammed full upon arrival, there was some kind of Junior Football evening taking place on the adjacent pitch which resulted in cars haphazardly slung about the country lane passing the ground. I took the safer option and parked back in the village behind the church.

St Cleer FC is a great place to watch a game, its scenic, friendly, relaxing and usually they put on a decent exhibition of football. If you get there early there are some terrific countryside walks nearby, Siblyback Lake, Golitha Falls and The Cheesewring are just a few of many well documented locations. Pre match refreshment can be taken at the Market Tavern across from the church, I think they do grub Wednesday to Weekend, a couple of miles further on resides the St Cleer shirt sponsors 'The Cheesewring Pub' in Minions hamlet, a place often applauded for plentiful portions of good home cooked food.

This was the home sides opening game of the season, Gunnislake had already got an impressive away win under their belts last Saturday 0-1 at Torpoint Athletic Thirds.

What struck me immediately was the intensity and passion being afforded by both sides, crunching (mainly) fair tackles, pace, energy and the obligatory non league yelling and cursing soon introduced themselves to the serene evenings surroundings. 

Must say I am a big fan of the new FA directive to let the game flow more openly, what is so good about non league is that the players just get up after a hard tackle (if they are able), this is in stark contrast to the delicate flowers of the higher echelons of the professional game who spend most of the match rolling over and screaming for their Mum.

The first half witnessed some quality passages of passing football which is a credit to this level of the game. Chances came and went at both ends and perhaps the only difference between the sides was a sublime audacious back heel from the visitors Kevin McCallion to put Gunnislake in dream land.

Half Time 0-1

Second half the encounter got a little scrappy and disjointed, the telling factor was Gunnislake taking a firmer grip of the proceedings, St Cleer were struggling to make cohesive in-roads as regards an equaliser and it was no surprise when Gunnislake captain Jamie Rowlands smashed in a second goal off the underside of a quivering crossbar.

A few tempers made a fleeting entrance but it was soon put to rest, wouldn't call this a dirty game.

Credit to St Cleer they certainly didn't give up and began making a few tactical switches and throwing people forward, they deservedly got one back but the ticking clock was too far ahead for a dramatic conclusion. Gunnislake probably deserved the victory and their impressive start to the season continues.

Good job we kicked off at 7pm prompt, the evening gloom was certainly encroaching come the final whistle. Sign of things to come I'm afraid, where has the summer gone? Enjoy it while you can.