Cornwall, Falmouth Town, groundhop, Helston Athletic, Kellaway Park, Phil Hiscox, South West Peninsula League
Friday 25th March ko 19.00
South West Peninsula League Premier Division
HELSTON ATHLETIC 1 (Roberts 70)
FALMOUTH TOWN 0
I suspect that Helston isn’t used to be described as the “Bright Lights” but as the cavalcade of hoppers headed for Kellaway Park, from the rural isolation of Wendron that’s how it felt. We arrived to a queue, and at its head were 4 nervous looking gatemen trying to issue an entry ticket to every single patron as a means of counting the crowd. I felt like pointing out, “That’s (hop organiser) Phil Hiscox’s job” but desisted and was told rather precisely where to park, by another rather nervous volunteer.
You could see the cause of the tension, the final game of the first full day of a hop does tend to see the biggest crowds, and the visiting club being the biggest possible locally it was clear that Helston were expecting a huge crowd. I consoled myself that at least the club were prepared, and found a seat in the clubhouse.
The club have come an extremely long way in a very short space of time. I called in during March 2003, on my from nearby Goonhilly Earth Station, and found a basic ground playing in the Cornwall Combination. The transformation since the club entered the Peninsula League in 2011 and especially for this season after winning Division One West is little less than staggering. Here’s what I found back then.
As soon as I reached the clubhouse my worries eased. The place was a hive of activity with the kitchen shifting pasties, sausage and chips, and pork rolls with remarkable efficiency. I sat in the back read my programme, watched the crowd grow almost exponentially and watched the club cope, and its that word cope that should give the club and Phil Hiscox the most satisfaction. I seen clubs flounder with just a few extra on the gate, and this was probably ten times their normal crowd. Once again it proved that planning and preparation is the key to these events.
There was the added bonus of the Helston Town Silver Band. Their claim to fame is that it was they who backed Terry Wogan in his hit version of “The Floral Dance.” With Wogan no longer with us, I did volunteer Phil Hiscox to stand in, but he didn’t seem to keen on my idea…
But as good as the club’s staging ended up being, the game was a let-down. The temperature dropped rapidly, as perhaps both sets of players froze. There was no lack of quality but the teams completely cancelled each other out until Jason Roberts 70th minute strike. That at least gave us a positive result, but the winners here were Helston Athletic’s committee.
Because it’s one thing to attract a crowd, but its another thing entirely to take full advantage of it. All involved at league and club should be proud of their efforts.