Saturday 9th October 2021 ko 15:00
South West Peninsula League- Premier East
ELMORE 3 (Newman 60og Hill 74 82)
OKEHAMPTON ARGYLE 4 (Bickle 5 13 63 67)
Sanders sent off 55 (DOGSO)
After the Scottish Hop I did something unusual for me, I actually tried to slow down a little. Mind you watching Broxburn Athletic then within a week finding yourself watching Tiverton- based Elmore isn’t many people’s idea of slowing down, there are a mere 446 miles between the two grounds. I should explain….
Robyn and I had booked a week away from it all in a holiday home in Penzance a week after the Scottish Hop. Now on one hand Britain’s most south-westerly town isn’t the most easily accessed place, and I didn’t go to any games between Broxburn and this one. I did consider doing something in the far reaches of Cornwall knowing we’d be able to access the accommodation at 4pm, but the drive down… I decided to do something that would break up our journey; so what if we didn’t reach our house until 9pm?
So Elmore it was, and don’t get it confused with its homonym in Gloucestershire, the club is named after Elmore Sports Club and, the ground Horsdon Park has been here since 1958 when the club bought the Slaughterhouse Field. It reflects the club’s past in both the South Western and for 35 years, the Western League. No doubt you’ll spot the stand is named after the late Adam Stansfield who started his playing career at Elmore before making his name with Yeovil Town, Exeter City and Hereford United. He tragically died of cancer aged 31, in 2010.
We did make one error, and that was to head into Tiverton for a pre-match meal. There was nothing wrong with what we found, but to the left of the eagle there’s a café at one end of of Horsdon Park, and judging by the throughput of people there, it’s rather popular. We had a tea there and it proved to be a good place do what this afternoon ended up being about, and that was empathising with the personalities we saw there.
It started with the bloke opening up the ground for spectators then doing all those jobs that tend to get taken for granted. The game was a story of a young-looking Elmore side struggling to find both confidence and a rhythm against a well drilled and top of the table Okehampton side. That meant I sat behind young winger Harry Woodward ‘s mum. He like most of his team struggled as their visitors were had just too much know-how to allow their hosts much of an opening.
Okehampton ran up a three goal lead with chief tormentor Ben Bickle looking a class above anything on the same pitch. He seemed to score every time Elmore’s defence made a mistake and each time he did I felt Elmore’s resolve deflate slightly. I found myself feeling similar emotions as I did watching Storrington recently. I’m used to seeing friendly clubs lose, but there’s something painful about watching a young side’s confidence evaporate.
Okehampton’s progress looked serene but all that was shattered by the dismissal of Scott Sanders after 55 minutes. An own goal started the hosts’ comeback, and while Bickle scored his fourth soon afterwards he was quickly withdrawn. Suddenly Elmore and young Harry found the confidence to attack with purpose. Lewis Hill scored two quick goals and all there wondered whether we were going to witness a remarkable comeback.
We weren’t, football doesn’t always produce romance and in stoppage time young Harry was on the receiving end of a quite dreadful, and unnecessary challenge from Luke Mortimore. He was booked, correctly according to the letter of the law, but the cynicism and timing of the challenge spoke more than the card ever will. The final whistle went a few seconds later and young Harry limped painfully from the pitch. It summed up the afternoon for him and his team.
We left hoping that despite the loss Elmore will take heart from that last half an hour, and judging by how they’ve rallied since this game, they did. Either way I made sure I commiserated with Harry’s Mum before we headed south. Just the 3 hour drive left…. finishing with a Chinese takeaway at 9pm! Rest and relaxation eh?