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Saturday 16th July 2022 ko 15:00

Pre-Season Friendly

SALTASH UNITED 2 (Miller 36p Smith 64)

TRURO CITY 3 (Harvey 3p 53 Grange 90)

Att 171

Entry £5

There are no end of reasons behind it, but Robyn and I had decided to make this summer all about catching up with people. Obviously the pandemic was the cause of a lot of our estrangment from people we hold dear, and so when we had a free Saturday we decided to visit our friends Mike and Vonnie who live in Plymouth. That came first, and the football match all followed on from that. There was though a slight catch.

It was that Mike is a Plymouth Argyle fan, and my Robyn a Bristol City one, and the two clubs were playing each other in a friendly at Home Park. It was Robyn who made the decision to head to Saltash, Mike went to Argyle, and he described the game as dreadful!

Of course Saltash meant crossing the Tamar Bridge from Devon to Cornwall; if I was to put the cream on my scone first half way over the bridge, who would I annoy? We booked ourselves into a cheap B & B and much to our surprise had enough time to go for lunch at the excellent “Foreign Muck” cafe/bar/restaurant. Clearly spiraling fuel costs had helped keep the normally choked M5 clear so we also had time to head to the riverside to take in the view of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s wonderful Tamar Railway Bridge. Not all of my heroes are sport related. 

Saltash United are a club and ground that hitherto managed to slip through my groundhopping net. They’d appeared on Phil Hiscox’s South Western Hops back in the day, before I started hopping and weren’t in the Western League when we at GroundhopUK hopped that league. Now there’re back in the Western League which means the grass banking is now out of bounds to spectators, and there’s no organised hop to put them on. As a groundhopper, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.

And the Kimberley Stadium is well worth the effort, cost and time it took to get there. I don’t think you’ll find a hopper who wouldn’t like that classic stand, or the backdrop of buses driving past Regency Houses. It evokes just about everything there is to like about South Western football, and lets face it I have clocked up my fair share of grounds.

Opponents Truro turned the game into an almost local derby. That wouldn’t normally be the case, Truro is roughly 50 miles from Saltash, but since they sold Treyew Road for redevelopment they’ve shared at Torquay United, and now are at Plymouth Parkway’ Bolitho Park. The issue there is more than just one of distance, it’s that neither are in Cornwall, and even if the club are laying on free coach travel to home games, the supporters aren’t interested in the White Tigers playing anywhere other than in Truro.

The club are now owned by the same investors that own the Cornish Pirates RUFC, and both clubs will need to get the Stadium For Cornwall built sooner rather than later. I got the sense that the clock is ticking…

Here through the game saw Western League Premier versus Southern League Premier South, and the two division difference did eventually tell, even if Truro did leave it very late. It was though a day to enjoy far more than just  the game. The ground is full of character, and that evening we had a wonderful time catching up with Mike and Vonnie. It was a theme we were to pursue over the summer.