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Saturday 4th September 2021 ko 15:00

South West Peninsula League Premier East

CULLOMPTON RANGERS 3 (Chamberlain 26 secs Wilkinson 16 Humphreys 85)

PLYMOUTH MARJON 0

Att 56

Entry £6

Programme FREE (part online)

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that as a groundhopper there are three kinds of football ground. There’s the grounds I’ve visited, then there’s grounds I’ve not, and the grounds that I’ve not visited but half the hopping population thinks I have. And for years top of that third list was Cullompton Rangers.

The reason was Phil Hiscox’s successful Devon Hops in the late 1990’s which included Cullompton’s Speeds Meadow. It was roughly a year before I started doing much more than Oxford United away games so I missed out- until now! But Cullompton has something that must be close to unique, and that’s the way that so many football fans have passed by the ground but have never seen a game here. 

The M5 runs right by the ground; if you’re heading southbound just glance to your left after you pass the services, but the principle works in the same way if you’re travelling on the Bristol to Exeter railway too. And before you get to the photos, if you like a train as a backdrop you’ll love this place! Or if you want to put it another way if you know me you’ll know that the more times I pass by a ground the more I want to visit and now imagine how many times I’ve passed the place after visiting roughly a hundred grounds in Devon and Cornwall!

If there’s a town that has suffered from being mis-spelled it’s this one. It’s reckoned that there have been over 40 different ways to spell Cullompton, the GWR had two (Cullumpton and Cullompton); the current spelling has been in place since 1889 when the GWR finally made up its mind!

For now the town’s football club does have a quirk, and its all about their programme. Now I know some some groundhoppers do obsess about a matchday magazine, sometimes to the exclusion of any other consideration. Online programmes don’t count, so what would be the position on a hybrid programme? Let me explain.

When you pay at the booth, you get a teamsheet which does the basics, a front cover, teamlines and so on. Should you want the full programme, then that’s available from the website to download, and if you so wish print out. It does have some advantages, its cheap to produce, and free to the customer and I’ve little doubt that the publication more than pays for itself via the advertising it carries. Love it or loath it, it is certainly interesting!

We’d had a dreadful drive down from Oxford with both the M4 and M5 choked so we were relieved to scream into the car park with less than 5 minutes to spare. It wasn’t a game to be late for either, with Rangers’ opening their account with just 26 seconds gone!  It wasn’t to be Plymouth Marjon’s day, which was shame. I’d greatly enjoyed their Hop Game 3 years ago, and do wonder whether as a predominantly student side I’d caught them at a bad time- term time hadn’t started.

But from a home perspective Cullompton competently dealt with the challenge put in front of them. They won well, and save for Joseph Chamberlain who managed to score, be sin-binned and go off injured in the first half hour, did so with a minimum of fuss. 

I may have spent the first few minutes of the game recovering from the trip down, and the game was rather one-sided, but as we headed for home afterwards, I did have a sense of quiet satisfaction. That was partly down to getting an oft-bypassed ground visited, but also to see a club clearly enjoying their sense of self.