Wednesday 11th August 2021
South West Peninsula League East
OKEHAMPTON ARGYLE 2 TORRINGTON 2
Attendance: 146 (head count)
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.