Uwdi Krugg will be spending the 2016-17 season watching South West non league football, eating the wrong kind of food and having a bloody good moan.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Cornwall Senior Cup Final at Helston

Easter Monday 17th April 2017
Cornwall Senior Cup Final at Helston Athletic FC
Attendance: 368
Admission: £6
Programme: Free
Grub: Egg Sandwich (Tescos) £1 Coffee (Costa) £2.30
Parking: Designated car park in adjacent playing field
Weather: Odd sunny spell but mainly grey & overcast
The two finalists, currently second and third in the South West Peninsula Premier Division both come from South East Cornwall. The Cornwall FA decision to take the final 60/70 miles down the road to Helston puzzled quite a few local supporters, myself included. Throw in traditional bank holiday traffic and it looked like a recipe for disaster. The boys in the black blazers from the Cornwall FA were having none of it and proceeded to turn a deaf ear to the mounting grumbles as matchday arrived. The cool characters with the LA sunglasses, reserved seats and the VIP passes simply held their nerve and smiled politely throughout. And guess what.. they were proved 100% correct by giving the final to Helston. 
The Kellaway Park ground turned out to be a great venue for the big game. Excellent facilities, ample car parking, well drilled support staff, decent entertainment and a superb playing surface for this time of the year. Helston ticked every box and immediately quietened the moans and groans of the travelling supporters, we even got lucky avoiding the dreaded traffic jams. An inspired choice of venue. Well done Helston Athletic.
My traffic jam pass got me in Helston well before kick off time. I was initially going to wait until I got to the Tea Hut for some dinner but I couldn't last out. I ended up in the big Tesco supermarket just up from the ground and got an egg sandwich and some crisps. I then had a wander down to the nearby town centre and killed a bit more time having a coffee in Costa. Trouble with driving is you can't really hit the ale trail so I was doing my best to stay sensible. Last time I was in Helston it was p*ssing it down (which is nothing new for Cornwall) but on a dry afternoon like today the place looked quite presentable.
After walking back up to the ground the perimeter was getting busy, the local band were playing and a steady stream of people were keeping the admission chaps busy. 
6 quid in plus a free programme, nice to see some pen pictures and colour pictures rather than the usual advert ridden publications often seen at this level, I was quite impressed with it.
As already mentioned the pitch looked a treat and it was superbly complemented by the clubhouse with its built in tea hut and the nearby stand.
The bar seemed packed and it was nice to see that Helston had put on a beer tent in the ground to quench the demand.
Looking at the two finalists most people were of the opinion it was going to be a close run affair, these two sides have been nip and tuck all season. Bodmin won the treble last season but Saltash have won plenty of admirers this term for their open and attacking style of football. The line ups were both strong with Bodmin featuring Dan Sullivan, big Adam Carter and Lance Bailey while Saltash could respond with the likes of Jimmy Alexander, classy Callum Hall and Ryan Richards the goal machine. 
Even the coaching staff sported big personalities, Bodmin with the fiery master tactician Darren Gilbert and Saltash with the equally astute Matt Cusack. 
The match itself has already been well reported via the various media outlets. My brief summary of the proceedings underlines the close competitiveness of the game. The first half was a tactical battle with good quality passages of play, both sides continually opting to probe and press searching for weaknesses. Bodmins formidable hitman Adam Carter pounced on a half chance to put them 1-0 up, some may say he was slightly fortunate as his finish was mistimed but they all count when the ball hits the net, Saltash were left to adopt a Plan B if they wanted to get back in this final. 
The second half witnessed an even more spirited Saltash response and Bodmin seemed to be losing the 50/50's and the second balls, possession football swung to Saltash so it was even more surprising when Adam Carter got his second goal as he muscled himself a clinical 6 yard opportunity to put Bodmin 2-0 up and right in the driving seat. Saltash now had it all to do. Bodmin dropped back which allowed Saltash a last push with the clock ticking down. A superb strike from Chris Menhenick thundered into the Bodmin net, 2-1 setting up a thrilling final 10 minutes as Saltash threw everthing forward. It is a credit to the spirit and tenacity of the Bodmin side that they took the full Saltash pressure and dealt with it both adequately and professionally. The more frantic Saltash rushed forwards the more calm and calculating Bodmin became as they eased the clock down for victory. All credit to them for retaining the Cornwall Senior Cup.
All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable day out.
Even more, the Match Shed got me home quicker than the outward journey.  

Thursday, 1 September 2016

St Blazey 0 Bodmin Town 4

Wednesday 31st August 2016
South West Peninsula League Premier Division
Attendance: 123
Admission: £5
Programme: After the Camelford & Tavistock rip-offs, NO
Raffle Ticket: Crime of crimes... I didn't want one?
Parking: Tightly congested club car park
Weather: Calm evening, slight chill later on

No pictures from this one, no glowing tributes either (and I don't mean the beer). I shall explain further into this report.

Firstly the proceedings on the pitch.

Bodmin more or less sauntered through this game in cruise control. Even after testing games in recent days against the likes of Bideford and fellow top four rivals Tavistock they still had enough nous and superior gameplay to totally dominate a poor looking St Blazey outfit. Much of the 90 minutes resembled a games lesson exercise of attack and defence, only the defence side of the equation wasn't that good and Blazey had good luck to thank for the avoidance of a cricket score.

The home side had odd trips up field but they all ended in nothing, the sitter that 'The Tornado' fluffed in the first half set the general tone for the proceedings. Perhaps the best contribution from St Blazey was that the keeper saved a first half penalty. When the club ran out of match balls half way through the second period thoughts turned to home, the end result was never in doubt.

Now onto something which I call the hard sell. Something which slightly soured my visit to Blaise Park this evening, which is sad to report following a really enjoyable trip to the ground in July for the friendly against Argyle.

Sadly, even in homely little non league football you can unfortunately witness clubs crossing the boundary of what is appropriate respectful behaviour. It doesn't happen very often but the tactics some clubs willingly operate to generate a bit of extra income tarnish not only their own football clubs reputation but that of the league they play in.

Over the years I have bought tons of stuff at non league grounds, programmes, tea hut grub, pints, club badges and lots and lots of raffle tickets.

I stupidly arrived at St Blazey realising I only had 5 pounds in my wallet. Thankfully it was just enough to get in with. Didn't even have enough for a programme (but after the rip-off publications I'd suffered at Camelford and Tavistock that didn't bother me too much). Anyway... once through the turnstile there was a group of spectators all stood around talking to friends or queuing at the Tea Hut when a loud lady about 5 yards away singled me out and shouted "Hey you! Are you going to buy a raffle ticket off me"? I politely smiled and told her no thank you not tonight. She then seemed to get agitated by my response and raised her voice even more "What, you don't want to buy a ticket, what's a matter with you"? At this the people nearby started to turn around looking at the commotion. Again I politely smiled and shook my head as I moved towards the stand. In the background I heard her mumbling (in clear shot of everyone else, still quite loud) "Honestly, I ask you... Tight B******"!

If I had more money I may have bought that raffle ticket, then again I may not have, that is MY choice. I fully understand most non league clubs are strapped for cash but that doesn't mean its a god given right that every spectator through the gate MUST buy a raffle ticket.

To be dealt with in this rude and negative way by what is (I suppose) a representative of St Blazey Football Club is out of order and disrespectful. I made the 50 minute journey to watch a football match not boost somebodies raffle ticket sales.

Unfortunately, despite some decent football from Bodmin Town, this was not really an enjoyable visit.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Camelford 2 Plymouth Parkway 2

Saturday 27th August 2016
South West Peninsula League Premier Division
Attendance: 61 (head count)
Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Parking: Club car park inside the ground
Weather: Very warm pitchside, plenty of sunshine
The Camelford matchday programme has no less than 117 advertisements in it, surely that must be a record breaker? Unfortunately there's not much else inside. To their credit they stuffed 3 sheets of loose A4 paper in the middle with a bit of SWPL cut and paste stuff, the ground regulations and a list of Camelford vice presidents. Not exactly the best read on the non league circuit.
I'd arrived a tad early after a big dinner at The Molesworth Arms in Wadebridge, this was a precaution in respect of the thousands of tourists flooding in and out of Cornwall, better safe than sorry. The ground isn't the easiest to find but its one of those that if you've found it once you won't forget it the next time. There was nobody on the gate at 2.20pm and a friendly bloke and younger assistant were going car to car taking in the gate money. It was these two that flogged me the programme.
Despite Met Office warnings of a pretty crap Saturday it was a hot, sunny and rather humid day at Trefrew Park, plenty of sunshine for the sun lovers but it was uncomfortable and stifling if you were out in it for too long. The sun really brought out the best in what appeared an excellent looking pitch, it looked a picture amidst the tidy looking surroundings of the ground. It seemed to play nicely once the game started as well, ball bobble balance was insignificant.
Structure wise the clubhouse straddles the halfway line with a couple of small flat pack economy stands at either end, one has blue and white seats the other is just covered steps, it looks similar to the Tavistock set up but on a slightly smaller scale.
The Tea Hut facility is a refreshment bar with an opening pitchside as well as being accessible from inside the clubhouse. Due to my big pub dinner I had no room for burgers and sausages. Maybe next time? The place seemed to get a steady trade bearing in mind I counted only 61 spectators in attendance today (and quite a good few of those were from Plymouth).
The rest of Trefrew Park is the usual hard standing apart from behind the goals at the far end which is out of bounds due to it just being grassed, a couple of signs are up but most folk seemed to ignore them, perhaps its a league ground grading rule that there is no access to areas without the hard standing? Not sure, bit daft risk assessment wise, no foreseeable hazards in my book.
Camelford have not had the best of starts to this new season, I'd already seen them get stuffed 4-0 in a friendly over at lower league Liskeard Athletic. They seem to be blooding quite a few younger players, rumour has it this is more down to injuries and player unavailability than youth policy objectives, they'd face a really stiff task against one of the acknowledged big sides in the Premier Division, Plymouth Parkway. The visitors were fresh from what should be recognised as a truly outstanding 0-6 FA Cup win away from home at higher league Bridgwater, no wonder some longer term scholars of South West football have Parkway underlined for this years league title?
Before kick off the general feeling was simply how many would Parkway win by today. For large parts of the first half the Plymouth machine gobbled up wide expanses of possession but seemed to be having engine problems with the turbo factor up front.
Approach play and support strategy was swift and in numbers but far too often it failed to home in on the target. Camelfords defence were applying themselves admirably to the task superbly assisted by a fine goalkeeping performance.
When Camelford went upfield it was a novelty that lacked threat, Parkway were mopping up any advances at source. It was therefore quite a surprise when Camelford went 1-0 up. Half time grumblings from the yellow and blue clad away clan were placated by the odd burger and other clubhouse goodies but never were the 3 points in doubt, it was simply a matter of time before the fort was breached.
It wasn't long into the second half when Parkway got a fully deserved penalty, some have said it was unjust, take it from me I was probably the closest to it on the ground and it was the correct decision. 1-1 and the Parkway supporters appeared in a much more positive frame of mind.
Everyone now expected Plymouth to steam roller Camelford into oblivion, it didn't happen, in fact Camelford started to look the better side as they got wide, strung passes together and had much more threat up front, Parkway optimism turned to groans and grumbles. When Camelford went 2-1 up it was nothing that they didn't deserve. Could they somehow hold on to provide the biggest upset of the league season to date? Unfortunately for Camelford they just failed to hang on for the line with Parkway manfully digging out a scrappy equaliser for a valuable point. I feel it is fair to say Parkway supporters will probably admit they did not play that well today but still had just about enough in the tool box to dig out a point.
As for Camelford surely this will instil some much needed confidence for the winter campaign ahead, if only they could have hung on for what would have been a major scalp down at homely Trefrew Park?

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Bodmin Town 1 Bideford 2

Wednesday 24th August 2016
FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay
Attendance: 240
Admission: £6
Programme: £1
Tea Hut Stuff: Not tonight, had a big tea
Parking: Adjoining car park, football punters don't need to pay
Weather: A mild, dry and calm evening
These two had drawn 1-1 at Bidefords place last Saturday. The Southern League Division 1 South & West side had struggled to break down a gallant Bodmin outfit who played 77 minutes with 10 men. Now back at Priory Park in South East Cornwall, the odds of a Bodmin victory seemed much more favourable, irrespective of lower league standing.
There's something magic about a hot take-out from the pitch-side Tea Hut as the floodlights dance amidst the sizzling fat and the cups of budget brand tea. Trouble was I'd caved in an hour earlier and had a gut buster tea back at home. I had no spare tankage for the voluptuous volumes of match night grease but its fair to say plenty of other susceptible punters did, the refreshments shack (I call it Tea Hut) was doing a roaring trade. The picture has been doctored to protect people who should have been at weight watchers.
Priory Park is easy to spot on the main road into the town from the big A38 & A30 junctions, look left going down the hill after passing Morrisons on your right and there it lies like a genuine refined jewel in a fake gold crown. The jewel is the tall singular grandstand which resides majestically across the halfway line, its charismatic presence denying the inevitable choice of so many other non league grounds in this day and age. No flat-pack steel plate economy stands at Bodmin Town, they have a proper one that must be the envy of the South West Peninsula League for miles and miles and miles.
The game appeared to be on Match of The Day but I couldn't pick out Gary Lineker and Shearer, probably having an Indian in the Viraj... then somebody murmured that it wasn't the BBC MoTD Crew, it was the Cornwall Channel?
Bideford were kicking to the Morrisons End early doors and their colourful boisterous band of X-Factor pub singers made a gallant attempt to resemble a Liverpool away following at Old Trafford. No, it didn't quite come off but you had to respect their efforts to inject a bit of atmosphere and passion into the proceedings, most of the ditties appeared fairly polite but I hadn't heard reference to Bodmin people being 'Dingles' before. They later followed this up with that old Scout Show favourite "You're F*cking Sh*t" which always goes down well with the Mums and Dads.
The match itself was very good in my book. Both sides played attractive attacking football with the odd lunge, push and grapple chucked in for good measure. Something the busy referee didn't seem to favour too keenly as no less than 3 players got the red card. Bodmin took a 1-0 lead with a well directed header from Jake Ash just before the break despite the earlier sending off of Nick Milton meaning they played a lot of the first half a man down. The second half didn't quite reach the heights of its predecessor. Bodmins Dan Sullivan had picked up an injury which was negating his movement, up until then he had produced a stormer of a performance, his creativity being the perfect foil for Steve Bowker up front. When Sully had to come off Bideford got the freedom to up the gears and pushed a tiring Bodmin defence back towards goal. James Richards got the equaliser on 77 minutes and there was no hiding the fact that Bodmin were hanging on for extra time. The eventual winner, when it came, was the result of an unfortunate misplaced back pass, Bideford fully capitalised on it and on 85 minutes Billy Tucker put the  pub singers in FA Cup dreamland.
Flat caps and half eaten sausage sandwiches bit the dust as the Bodmin faithful knew the game was up, the Wembley dream was over.
Love that Main Stand though.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Elburton Villa 3 Dobwalls 3

Saturday 20th August 2016
South West Peninsula League Division 1 West
Attendance: 20 (head count)
Admission: £3
Programme: Didn't produce one
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea £1
Weather: Blustery wind, odd sunny spell, a few rain showers
Parking: Club Car Park adjacent to Haye Road
Elburton is just a few miles east bound down the A379 from Plymouth City Centre. It seems a decent well presented suburb with a nice looking pub and a football club who seem to operate a good few teams under the Elburton Villa banner, there was actually a youth team game taking place involving Elburton on one of the adjoining pitches when the Match Shed got one of the last spaces on the top end car park. Good turn out of spectators too, it would turn out to be more than double the attendance of the SWPL first team game v Dobwalls.

The Match Shed had struggled to spot the flagged up roundabout turn-off for the ground as described in the splendid SWPL Club Handbook due to the fact that the Highways Agency had only just removed it? Or at least I think that's the case? The laborious temporary traffic lights and all the cones are still up but I missed the Haye Road turn off completely, which was supposed to be off the now missing roundabout, I had to double back into the traffic grid lock for another go at finding the ground. Good job I had a 30 minute delay factor built into the journey.

I'd stopped off en route to Elburton from Cornwall at the Plymouth Barbican for a quick snack and a drink at The Cog Wetherspoons establishment next to the Gin Distillery. Bought a bottle of the lovely Plymouth Gin from next door before returning to the Match Shed. It wasn't for the game just in case you're wondering. I love it down the Barbican, always a good vibe and such a great choice of restaurants and pubs.

Back at the ground the main hub of activity is the cosy small clubhouse, adjoining changing rooms, toilet block and small tea hut hatch. This resides alongside a larger secondary car park where the youth game was taking place. Just a short stride further down the car park is the main ground for the SWPL Elburton Villa side. I got a tea from the hut which came in a proper mug and took the opportunity to take in a bit of the youth game action.
The Tea Hut had a tasty looking line up of pasties in the pie warmer, they looked pretty good too, think they might be called Pilgrims Pasties as there was a sign up around the corner from the hut advertising them. I didn't get one (this time) as I'd had some dinner back at the Barbican.
It was only 3 quid admission to the ground and the first thing that strikes you is the superb playing surface for this level of football, the pitch looked a treat. There is a small white block covered enclosure adjacent to the entrance behind the goals, there is a nominal row of plastic seats afforded.
Down the left touchline is a lonely looking flat pack stand with some more seating facilities, at least it offers some protection from the elements.
That's about it structure wise, there are some trees at the far end of the ground with a further football pitch beyond, down the right hand touchline is a large wire mesh fence which stops the ball hurtling off into the trees and undergrowth. As seems to be the case with the SWPL grounds in general, it was all well kept for the most part, clean and tidy.
The match was a topsy turvy affair with initial Elburton supremacy before the much improved Dobwalls side took the lead against the run of play. The home side got level before the early period of the second half witnessed Dobwalls taking a firm grip of the proceedings, this turn around in possession saw the visitors take a 1-3 lead.
The game was unfortunately affected by a number of hefty looking injuries which seemed to disjoint the proceedings some what. A factor not helped by the referee taking such a long time in progressing general infringements during the game as a whole. 
I can always tell when a game is going to drag on when the official starts the game 5 minutes late for no good reason and then lags this on to the start of the second half increasing the lost time accumulation in the process. This is in addition and separate to the genuine down time which must rightly be afforded to treat player injuries. It just seemed that all the insignificant stoppages suffered from a lack of time management, grumble over. Anyway, Elburton ended up back in the mix and produced a 3-3 final result which was just about fair in respect of what went down on the pitch.
It was time to try and beat the Plymouth Argyle match traffic on the way back to the Tamar Bridge.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Tavistock 8 Ivybridge Town 0

Saturday 6th August 2016
South West Peninsula League Premier Division
Attendance: 130
Admission: £5
Programme: £1 (oh dear)
Tea Hut Stuff: Coffee £1
Parking: Left car in the town centre and walked it
Weather: Dry mild afternoon with sunny intervals
The wife hates football. I've given her a nickname... Match Cow. She likes visiting the different locations when there's the chance of some decent shopping but that's as far as it gets. Last time I persuaded her to attend a game, she read a magazine, consumed a family bar of chocolate then fell asleep. So today Match Cow came along with me to the lovely market town of Tavistock just over the Devon border from Cornwall and I parked the Match Shed up in a reasonably priced 2 quid town centre car park. Match Cow shot off to the market with her shopping bags and I ambled down the pleasant River Tavy riverside walk towards Langsford Park.
The Lambs finished 3rd last season behind St Austell and champions Bodmin Town. Rumour had it that Tavistock could very well improve on that 3rd spot this time around. I was looking forward to checking them out in what was an attractive looking fixture against Ivybridge Town who ended the last campaign in 9th position.
Langsford Park is a modern looking set up with a big clubhouse set back in the club car park, the Red and Black Club. I had no time for foaming pints of local ale so I handed over my 5 pounds admission money and an extra pound for a colourful looking programme. I'm saving my OAP concession-buster disguise for night matches so I'm paying the full whack at the moment. That programme I've just praised turned out to be 2 sheets of A3 glossy paper with a couple of staples for good luck, inside was a match report from a recent friendly, the two squads for todays match, 3 full page adverts including cut price furniture and digger hire and a few generic match photo's without reference of who, what or where. Ok I only paid a quid for it but this really was a mickey take and took me back to a time when I simply stopped buying non league programmes because they were nothing more than a rip off. I'm hoping the rest of the SWPL clubs offer up publications a lot more enticing than this Tavistock effort.
The ground itself is dominated by the large changing room block alongside the halfway line, two identical small flat-pack stands rest alongside each other either side of the players entrance (tunnel), these offer decent seated views of the pitch which I took advantage of for the first half of the game. Across the pitch is another low level covered structure almost shipping container fashion in appearance, a few freestanding plastic chairs have been provided. The two dug outs are positioned either side.
About a third of the perimeter of the ground is out of bounds. The end nearest the clubhouse has a very shallow grass bank and just beside the corner flag resides the Tea Hut and a VIP bunker for cheese spread sandwiches, Mr Kipling french fancies and other half time niceties that club officials seem to like.
To be honest there is not a lot of character at the ground but what was I expecting... Roker Park or Maine Road, its not going to happen at the blunt end of the cash strapped football pyramid. I'll shut up about charismatic waffle and get on with it. The one thing I will state about Langsford Park is that it is absolutely spotless, prim and proper and immaculate in general presentation, this includes a very nice looking pitch and all of the perimeter. Some people are obviously putting in a great deal of effort here for such a spick and span appearance.
I loved the fact that the teams came out to the soundtrack of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, brilliant. Might be better saving the psychology for the likes of Bodmin Town, no disrespect to Ivybridge. Anyway, it obviously did the trick as the Clint Eastwood boys produced a Fistful of Dollars performance to totally blitz a workmanlike but bemused Ivybridge side. To utter statements like it could (and should) have been a cricket score can be taken as gross sensationalism but its the honest truth. I'm talking well more than 10 or 12 goals here, the chances Tavistock created and were either fluffed or miraculously saved were of a massive total, 8-0 is a very big score but Ivybridge got away lightly and certainly owe a round of applause for their keeper who tried his hardest to stop the tidal wave coming in.
It was a faultless performance, any intrusions from the visitors were immediately mopped up, the passing was fast and accurate, the speed of the approach play deadly impressive and the skilful turn of foot sublime, it was a rampaging bull of attacking entertaining football and a credit to non league football at this level.
To round everything off at the final whistle the tannoy blasted out the tune of Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, very apt indeed.
I had 15 minutes to get back to the Match Shed in the town centre before encountering the wrath of Match Cow. I just about made it following a performance that would have probably seen me qualify for the Rio Olympics Speed Walking Team. Saying that I was still overtaken by a warp-drive mobility scooter with an elderly chap wrapped in a big red and black Tavistock scarf. "8 nil will do won't it" I politely chirped up to him. "It will indeed" he replied, then he added " Bodmin will be quaking in their boots"! Hmm, not sure about the quaking expression but I trust it will be noted back in Cornwall... and what a match that will be when the two sides eventually face up to each other?
Well done Tavistock, really liked what I saw, you certainly deserve more than 130 spectators through the gate with sparkling football like that on offer.