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Saturday 18th May 2019 ko 14.30

South Devon League Division 4



Att 66

Free Entry

Sometimes circumstances mean the cards fall neatly in your favour. Robyn and I knew we’d be visiting friends in Plymouth so a game on the way made sense. The issue was that in mid-May a lot of the leagues local to Plymouth or on our way would be finished so I looked more in hope than expectation. But then then I spotted something….

You don’t expect a game between two first XI’s in a division playing at a nominal 11th step of non league football and you certainly don’t expect the game to have something riding on it too! In fact the only draw back was teaching various devices that I was visiting a small village on the edge of Dartmoor rather than a district in North London where Arsenal play. Here the “Big club” is Liverton United of the South West Pensinsula League, and I am more than aware that this is the only time I will ever make the comparison!

Ilsington’s ground at Lewthorne Cross is in the hills above Newton Abbot and yes it was good to drive through there with no rain! The football ground certainly comes with some fairly spectacular views over the foothills and but in footballing terms there was plenty riding on it.

Galmpton United are the Galmpton that used to be part of Galmpton & Torbay Gentlemen and were seen at Brixham on the last Peninsula Hop as Galmpton & Roselands. When they folded early this season citing lack of players the Roselands directors split away and will enter the new Step 7 Devon County League next season playing games at South Devon College Sports Centre.

For what remained of Galmpton United the decision was made to fold the playing side immediately and re-enter local football with their youth side and a few remaining senior players. That meant of course the bottom division of the lowest league, but the gambit paid off and they needed a win to seal both the championship and with it promotion.

For Ilsington there was there was the loss of club stalwart and assistant manager Dave Ellis to contend with. The steady stream of people quietly signing the book of condolences was touching and the minute’s silence beautifully observed.

The game was a lesson in Galmpton nerves and all credit to referee Dillon Gascoigne for managing the game so nerves and frustrations stayed as just those and didn’t escalate. The visitors clearly had someone at Newton Abbot 66 Reserves game at home to fellow title challengers Babbacombe Corinthians 2nds. That finished 3-6 but with insufficient goal difference swing in their favour all Galmpton needed was to keep the scores level.

History records that they did, but Ilsington made them work for it. Text messages were conveyed but barely believed as Galmpton worried their way to a goalless stalemate. The celebrations were muted at the final whistle as the the visitors had the good sense to get official confirmation that the championship was theirs.

As Robyn and I walked back to the car, we passed the changing rooms. Even behind a locked door you could hear the singing….