Friday 25th March 2016 ko 15.00
South West Peninsula League Division One
WENDRON UNITED 1 (Mulroy 90)
PORTHLEVEN 1 (Best 23)
When hop organiser Phil Hiscox announced the line-up for this hop was I the only one whose eyes immediately zoomed in on one name- Wendron’s? The SWPL hop had been due to visit them on the 2010 hop but Wendron folded prior to the event, so the event was rejigged with the Friday ending at a revisit to Penzance. I’m sad to note that another club on that hop, Hayle are no longer in the SWPL and are now plying their trade in the Cornwall Combination.
Wendron rejoined the Cornwall Combination in 2010-11 and took the step back up into the SWPL for this season in perfect time for this hop. It was to be an afternoon of surprises, and the first was the club’s location, its not in Wendron, nor is it even close by!
The ground is to be found in Underlane, Carnkie, near to Helston, and a good 4.5 miles from Wendron Village. From Illogan the cavalcade of hoppers headed west to east along narrow winding roads, and I know I wasn’t the only one wondering whether Phil Hiscox’s instructions in the hop brochure were correct (they were!). The other thought was what we’d all find at the end of all those lanes; a place this isolated couldn’t be fantastic could it?
The second surprise is just how well-appointed the ground is for its Step 7 level, and the average attendances of around 35. Phil commented “Is there a better ground at Step 7?” and other than grounds that have staged at a higher level, Harwich & Parkeston’s Royal Oak for example, I’d be hard pushed to think of one. The ground is in two halves- one side for cricket, and one for football, with a shared social club.
What makes the ground special is the wings added to the main stand. In essence they’re huge solar panels; the club sells the electricity to the National Grid, but its created cover for more or less an entire length of the pitch, to such an extent that if there’d been rain, I’m certain even this bumper crowd could have sheltered. In the fact the only issue was that as the temperature dropped and the winds came, that side became something of a wind tunnel!
But what I’ll remember Wendron for was how they grabbed their opportunity with both hands. They was, literally something for everyone to buy from cake to curry, and the hoppers loved them for it. Take from me when you spot the organiser sat in the bar with a cup of tea and a cake as a fellow organiser you know the club are doing well. Yes, every organiser will always love to be redundant for a hour or two!
Sadly the game didn’t live up the ground and the staging. The two sides slugged it out, utterly cancelling each other out, but the draw, fair on the balance of place was only achieved in odd circumstances. Porthleven keeper James Wignall was injured in the 78th minute, and it took around 12 minutes for him to be treated, then substituted. He was replaced in goal by midfielder Joel Allen, who rapidly made it obvious that as a goalkeeper he’s a good midfielder!
Nevertheless it took Wendron until the 5th minute of those 12 minutes of stoppage time for Chris Mulroy to equalise when you wondered whether a more forceful approach would have gained them more than just a point.
But in year to come few will remember the game, few do of many hop games in truth. What tends to be remembered is the ground and the staging, and for that Wendron have placed themselves in the top drawer. Well done to them, and to Phil Hiscox.