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Saturday 31st March ko 15.00

South West Peninsula League Divison One East

BRIXHAM AFC 1 (Parkin 59)


Att 369

Hop Ticket (no programmes included) £25

Entry £3

Programme £1

The trip from Exminster to Brixham was the longest of this year’s Easter hop, just over an hour, and with no end of alternatives for the hoppers to go and visit, and still make it back to Plymouth for the Marjon game to close the hop. The fact that Robyn and I had already visited Brixham‘s Wall Park Road ground, and fairly recently too, gave us something of a dilemma.

On one hand a visit to Seaton Town in the Devon & Exeter League appealed, on the other we’d both bought tickets for the entire hop, so it seemed counter-intuitive to head elsewhere. Moreover my reasoning behind buying a ticket was to support organiser Phil Hiscox, the host clubs, and the event itself.

Or putting it another way, I saw our presence at Brixham as part a process of allowing me and others to be able to visit 7 grounds in a weekend in a league in the future. If I can’t compromise by paying a ground another visit how can I expect future clubs to do the same?

I have to say I did wonder how the club would cope with a large crowd, as the ground’s footprint is tiny, and the game a massive local derby. There was quite a throng as the gate but as I showed my ticket to the gateman he rather worried me by commenting, “I hope this will all be alright, we didn’t realise this was important.”

Now I know Phil works the same way as any serious organiser and makes sure his clubs are fully prepared, but as an organiser myself I also know that on occasion there are clubs that for one reason or another fail to take heed of advice. I hoped I wasn’t amount to meet that one club.

I worked my way through to the bar, the whole area was packed, hardly surprising given the crowd, but the big issue was over the catering. Asking one person to both cook and serve the food was always going to add up to long queues and even with a league official co-opted into helping out I waited over 30 minutes for my curry and rice. The tragedy was that once I had got mine supplies promptly ran out. It was rather a missed opportunity for the club as delicious as the food was.

That said though the club’s issues save for the catering, seemed to be based around having to deal with a large crowd far larger than normal in a space far smaller than normal. People got served, it just took longer than normal.

Wall Park Road has changed even in the short time since Robyn and I’s last visit. The far end of the ground is now accessible, and with a large crowd that was no bad thing. However the best place to stand if you were brave was the spoil heap adjacent to the clubhouse and there was the added bonus of some antiquated bottles to dig up too! The view from up there is spectacular, and there can’t be many grounds where you can see the sea in two directions. Incidentally Brixham is one of only a few resorts in England where you can face due north and see the sea, in this case gazing across the bay to Torquay.

The opposition came with an interesting pedigree. They’d started life as Galmpton United, before merging with Torbay Gentlemen FC to become the wonderfully named Galmpton & Torbay Gentlemen FC. That was the name when the SWPL hop visited around 10 years ago, but as soon as the last former Torbay Gents committeeman left the name reverted to Galmpton United. For this season there’s been another merger, this time with nearby youth side Roselands FC to give the club its current name.  I do miss the Gents suffix though!

The game was a typically attritional local derby, with plenty of endeavour but precious little finesse. A defensive howler proved to be the difference between the two sides, with Brixham prevailing, so it was slightly surprising to see the look of relief on the faces of a couple of the home officials. Maybe I knew the reason why, but despite the queues and confined spaces it was obvious they’d done well on their big day. For that they will no doubt have thanked the redoubtable Mr Hiscox.

I passed the gaggle of hoppers waiting for the coaches and followed the cavalcade towards Plymouth.