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Saturday 24th March 2012 ko 3.00pm

South West Peninsula League Division One West

VOSPERS OAK VILLA 10 (Edwards 4 Fort 6 16 69 Almond 10p Jasper 34 38 83 Honeywill 50 Scholes 90)


Att 34

Entry & Programme £3

Tea 50p

Pasty £1.20

This was a bit of a crazy day for me. Perhaps it was because I’d spent Friday evening in Witney catching up with some old workmates over a chicken madras and a beer or 10, but in the morning I set out towards Dorset to visit another old mate, a full week early! By the time I realised, I was in Dorset, so I needed a Plan B, and quickly!

There really was only one bloke to call given where I was, Sammo, or to use his proper title, Mike Sampson, press officer for the South West Peninsula League. He confirmed that Vospers Oak Villa in Plymouth were kicking off at 3, and that another mate, League Football Secretary & Web Master Phil Hiscox would be there too. From a groundhopping perspective Phil’s the chap that organises the popular groundhop the League hosts. It was good to speak to a fellow organiser, and look forward to when the League will have sufficient new grounds to host another Easter extravaganza.

Plymouth holds mixed feelings for me. I’ve always enjoyed my visits to the dockyard town for both football and for tourism. I attended Mike Sampson’s 60th birthday bash at Plymouth Argyle around 18 months ago which was a great night out. Sadly it was the last public appearance I made with my wife, before we separated 2 months later. So, yes, mixed feelings.

Vospers Oak Villa started their existence as Oak Villa in 1912 in what was known as the United Churches League and the club operated from St Phillips Church in Bridwell Road, in Plymouth. To play you had to be a member of the church, and the club’s name was taken from an old cottage at Camel’s Head where the first meeting took place. The team moved to Weston Mill, so adopted the name Weston Mill Oak Villa and rose up through local leagues, through to the Devon County League, and became founder members of the SW Peninsula League league in 2007.  The club is now known as Vospers Oak Villa, thanks to the sponsorship of Peter Vospers, of Vospers Motorhouse.

The Weston Mill ground is on the western edge of Plymouth close to the Devonport Docks, and the Tamar bridge linking Devon to Cornwall. It’s the Tamar Bridge that gives the league its logo. It has to be said that the ground will win no awards for beauty, or facilities, but the welcome was as warm as the weather. There’s a railed off pitch but no cover, and the only hard standing is via a disused 5-a-side pitch, itself a victim of vandalism. The gateman was exactly that, a man by a gate, with a bag of a programmes.

I’d seen a league table and thought this looked a home banker. Perranporth had only 7 points to show for a disastrous season, but the home officials didn’t seem confident, citing the departure of the management team looming at the end of the season, and a poor run of form. They could not have been more wrong, as the visitors played the vast majority of the game with ten men. Worse still their regular goalkeeper was unavailable (their officials said he was watching Arsenal, but then he is the recently departed manger’s son!), and the backup goalkeeper Ryan Barnes was sporting a broken thumb, so he was pressed into service in midfield, and midfielder Jack Bradshaw was pressed into service between the sticks. It didn’t work to put it mildly!

3 goals in 10 minutes set the tone, and at that point I honestly thought I may have been heading towards my highest aggregate score of 20. That I only got halfway was down to Bradshaw’s efforts, despite obviously not being a goalkeeper he threw himself at everything, and the fact that Villa eased off for periods playing an ineffective brand of champagne football. Joe Jasper and Stuart Fort will no doubt argue over who gets the match ball (is there a procedure for that?) but for me the man of the match was the unfortunate Jack Bradshaw who like his team-mates was there when it mattered. It would have been so easy for Perranporth to have simply not turned up. For that they deserve credit.

I should also thank Sammo for putting me up for the night and feeding me a huge breakfast Sunday morning. Thanks mate, and see you in Sweden!