Monday 2nd May 2016 ko 11am
South West Peninsula League Division One East
BRIXHAM AFC 8 (Dodgson 13p 51 57 Robinson 19 Mercieca 81 84 85 89)
NEWTON ABBOT SPURS 3 (Matthews 12 Dyson 41 Price 73)
Entry & Programme £3
So where to go on a Bank Holiday Monday? I wanted to head south-west not least to allow girlfriend Robyn to come along, and obviously a double header appealed. The ground very much on my radar was Seale-Hayne, the soon-to-be vacated home of Plymouth Argyle Reserves and with that kicking off at 3pm it was simply a case of finding an early game.
In the long, but as yet unwritten book of groundhoppers’ tactics there is the adage of never doing a ground that will soon be on an organised hop. The idea is to avoid revisits on the event itself, so with the already “hopped” Teignmouth and the never hopped Brixham both scheduled for 11am I’d planned for the former.
But then, the Teignmouth fell due to their opponents Galmpton not being able to raise a side, so I opted for a trip to Wall Park Road, Brixham. I can live with a revisit during Easter 2018, and Brixham AFC is a mighty fine place to spend time at in any case!
The club are in their second season in the SWPL, having won the South Devon League in 2014, but their precedents are Brixham United who had a stint in the Western League from 1976- 1981. But the unexpected bonus in this Devonian town built on fishing, smuggling, and iron ore was just how quirky the ground was.
Just about anyone who’s ever gone to a non-league game with me will know I have a strange habit of always completing a circuit of the ground. That isn’t possible here, the far end is out-of-bounds, but the 3 accessible sides have more than enough to enthuse. Star of the show is the “Conservatory” near the half way line, it seemed a little unnecessary on a warm day, but I bet it’s popular in January!
But the game was simply jaw-dropping, an antidote to the rather attritional fare on the Notts Hop. The two sides clearly decided to play the game as “I bet we can score more goals than you” game. It was a wonderful spectacle has anyone scored 4 goals faster than Graham Merceica? The match was a credit to both sides and the league.
The 10-or-so hoppers present grinned, and the beauty of it all was the fun didn’t have to stop. We all headed to Seale-Hayne, knowing that when Phil Hiscox brings the hop here the massed ranks will love the place.