Billy Rouse, Clyst Valley, Coronation Park, Danny Hine, David Hood, Devon and Exeter League, Dominic Gibbons, Football, groundhopping, Mitchell Ward, Sam Cooper, South West Peninsula League, Topsham Town, university of exeter
Sunday 1st April 2012 ko 12.00pm
Golesworthy Cup Quarter Final
TOPSHAM TOWN 3RDS 3 (Gibbons 35 Rouse 38 Ward 45)
CLYST VALLEY 3RDS 3 (Hine 6 Hood 73 Cooper 90)
AET Clyst Valley won 4-3 on pens
Att 22 (h/c)
The pretty Devon town of Topsham is often described as a suburb of Exeter, but does retain its own distinct identity. Part of it is that there are many Dutch style houses in Topsham dating from the time when the town was an important cotton port. Many of Topsham’s houses are built using Dutch bricks, which were brought over as ballast from Holland – to where the wool and cotton from South-West England had been exported. There is an excellent antique centre on the Quayside, where once I picked up a rather impressive cheese grater!
The genteel feel does not extend to the Exeter Road based Coronation Field. Leaving town you pass by the University of Exeter ground, under the M5 and Topsham’s home is the next thing you see on your right. A huge sign for Junction 30 of the M5 is visible from the far goal. The club have played in the South-West Peninsula League, but following relegation, now ply their trade in the top flight of the Devon & Exeter League. The ground is well appointed, and would have no difficulties in gaining SWPL grading. In fact tucked away at the far side is a set of floodlights, bought as salvage from the sadly demolished Clyst Rovers ground.
Things are looking up for Topsham. They’re third in the table some distance behind leaders Seaton Town, but with doubts on Seaton’s rather narrow pitch, there’s all to play for. Except of course that Mike and I weren’t there to watch the 1st XI! With this game kicking off at midday and another at Sidmouth straight afterwards this wasn’t a day to worry about semantics! An unexpected bonus was that another hopper thought the same. I hadn’t seen Taunton-based Martin Bamforth for 2 years, which was a real pity. Martin has a long line of groundhopping mishaps which he’s not embarrassed to recount. A favourite was driving to Edinburgh to watch Hibernian in a European fixture only to discover on arrival that it was Hibernians of MALTA that were at home that evening!
The Golesworthy Cup is primarily for teams who play in the 6th, 7th and 8th divisions of the Devon and Exeter League, although some Perry Street and District League teams do enter. With criteria like that it’s inevitable that there’s very few first XI’s in the draw, and with these two sides 4th and 6th respectively in Division 6 the fixture did look competitive. I was told that Topsham’s 4th XI had won the trophy last season.
The trouble was it that the game found new ways to be a poor spectacle. Firstly Topsham conceded a daft goal, keeper John Parkes fumbling Danny Hine’s hopeful lob, before racing into a 3-1 lead, and looking completely dominant. Trouble is, after half time they stopped the neat passing that had given them the advantage. David Hood came on for Clyst and despite suffering the after-effects of a Saturday night curry, he finished well to get his team back in the game. With time tight for the Sidmouth we really didn’t want extra time, but of course that’s what we got, after a poor clearance was knocked in by Sam Cooper with seconds left.
Of course extra time produced nothing, as the both teams had ran themselves into the dust. That delayed the inevitable penalties by half an hour, and in this case Clyst knocked in all 4 they took to win. Except it wasn’t quite as straightforward as that. Barlow took the 4th for Clyst which was saved. Unfortunately for Topsham he hadn’t waited for the whistle and he scored with his retaken kick
At the end the Topsham players bemoaned that one incident, but if they’d kept doing what they’d started they’d have won this one easily.