St Minver v Dobwalls
IN A PAST LIFE, I was lucky enough to do some work as a travel journalist and the one cliché that you tried so hard to avoid was to say that wherever you were visiting was a “land of contrasts”. Sometimes you could work yourself into literary knots in order not to say it but, right here, right now, I am going to untangle myself and say it: Cornwall is a land of contrasts.
From Land’s End in the wild west to Launceston in the historic east; from the family resort of Newquay on the North Cornwall coast to the fishing village charms of Polperro on the south, there’s an awful lot of contrast packed into a small space and you don’t have to travel very far to go from one aspect of the Duchy to the next.
On Saturday, I found myself in the posh part.
The address of St Minver’s home ground is Trewint Lane, Rock. For those of you who don’t know, Rock is the sort of place where celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay can buy a house for £4.4million – and then plan to knock it down and replace it with something more to his liking.
There’s even a celebrity chef touch at the football ground, with an advert on the wall of the clubhouse for a nearby pub with Nathan Outlaw’s name on the food.
The ground itself is along a leafy lane and is surrounded by what estate agents love to call “architect-designed” houses. I thought all houses were designed by architects, but I think they mean they are not your average little boxes. Why can’t they just say that?
Yes, there’s no shortage of money in these here parts but the rewards we were all interested in on Saturday weren’t financial, they were sporting. This was an intriguing First Round tie in the RGB Building Supplies Cornwall Senior Cup, which was rich in possibilities. How would Minver fare in their first Senior Cup game in almost 30 years? Could they pull off a shock against a Dobwalls team from two divisions above them? And would the rain ever stop? (The answer to that last one was no).
The day for the visitors from Dobwalls didn’t get off to the best of starts. Lots of traffic, and a delay caused by an accident which blocked their main route for a while, meant that the journey north from South East Cornwall had taken longer than expected and it was a bit of a rush to get organised in time for the 2pm kick-off. I played a very minor role in helping by “lending” one of the team officials a pen so that he could complete the official teamsheet in time. I never saw the pen again – but I guess that means that a part of my DNA is now part of the history of the Cornwall Senior Cup. Happy to take that.
The home side are in Division One of the East Cornwall League, their first season back in senior football for many years. The visitors are established members of the Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Division One West. They are not often thought of as footballing giants but that was the epithet they were to bear in this tie.
The relative minnows of Minver started brightly, forcing the first of many good saves in an impressive display from Dobwalls keeper Jamie Blatchford but, with just five minutes gone, the visitors took the lead, Sam Ingram slotting home on the break after a defensive error.
It was, in fact, the sort of mistake that would often have the manager and coaches on the sideline effing and blinding at the top of their voices, letting everyone know in colourful fashion what they thought of their player’s efforts. But, this time, the St Minver management just had a quiet shake of the head and kept their thoughts quietly to themselves. It set the tone for the match with voices very rarely raised in anger on the sidelines.
This was probably just as well as the dug-outs at Trewint Lane are semi-detached and the teams, in effect, share one very large technical area. On Saturday, the St Minver management stood on the far left and their Dobwalls counterparts on the far right. It looked like they weren’t talking to each other – but what they were actually doing was not shouting at each other. I was impressed throughout with the demeanour in the dug-outs of both sides. They were competitive but not nasty, even when there were a couple of flashpoints on the pitch. It was a classy display all-round and was so nice to see.
Despite the appalling weather – it never stopped raining throughout – both sides attempted to play some classy football too, with Minver never looking out of their depth, even if their defence struggled to contain Dobwalls’ lively forwards at times. This is definitely a team that is going to make its mark in senior football.
After 18 minutes, they made their mark on the scoresheet too, Ryan Pooley equalising after Dobwalls failed to deal with a corner. Almost immediately, Minver forgot they were supposed to do some defending too and Ingram restored the visitors’ lead. Twenty minutes gone and the water was seeping into my boots from the sodden turf but it already looked like being a cup classic of its kind.
Ten minutes before half-time, Steve Wootton’s low ball across the box was tapped in by Callum Wilson to make it 2-2 and the thoughts of many started to drift towards what the ref had said as he led the teams out at the start: “We play to a finish today.” Extra time and penalties in the pouring rain? Thoughts were mixed on that one.
Now, in case you think I have suddenly turned into a proper reporter again, these names are all being culled from the excellent match reports posted by each side on social media. The St Minver version can be found on its pitchero.com website – I followed the link from Twitter – while the Dobwalls account is on the club’s Facebook page. And, as is often the way, the reports didn’t always agree. For instance, Dobwalls described the second Minver goal as being the result of “another defending error at the back post” while the home side said it was a “brilliant cross … which fizzed across goal”.
You pays yer money and you takes your choice, as they say. From my neutral point of view, it was a lovely cross but the Dobwalls defence did allow it to travel a long way. That’s my Gary Neville pundit moment. Do you think Sky might be interested?
Anyway, back to the action and, five minutes before half-time, thoughts of extra time etc, faded as Ingram produced a fine finish to complete a first-half hat-trick and put his side 3-2 up at the break.
After that breathless first half I needed a cup of tea. No wandering into a nice warm and dry clubhouse, though. Tea and refreshments were served by a lovely smiling lady from a table set up under a little bit of shelter outside the changing rooms. There are plans in place to improve the clubhouse at this St Minver Lowlands Parish Council-owned ground and it will be great to go back in future to see how it all looks. This time, however, I just had to wander around in the rain with my cuppa. And very welcome it was too.
The second half was still as wet, still as competitive, still as full-on as the first half had been, but this time the goals were missing. Dobwalls did extend their lead to 4-2 after 65 minutes when Ryan Oxley rounded the keeper to score and, despite pressing and pressing, Minver could not find a way back into the game. A combination of some wayward finishing and quality goalkeeping kept them at bay, while the visitors were also wasteful in front of goal, even hitting the post from about two yards at one stage.
Another cliché that writers try to avoid is “football was the real winner today”. Well, today it was. Dobwalls were delighted to have made progress from an awkward cup tie while St Minver put in a good performance and were happy with their reintroduction to this most coveted of local football cups. The home team’s match report said: “It was a very proud day for the club.” It was – and it was a classy effort by both sides, too. What a nice part of Cornwall in which to spend a wet Saturday afternoon.
THE STATISTICS BIT
St Minver 2 Dobwalls 4
Trewint Lane, Rock, on Saturday, October 7, 2017
RGB Building Supplies Cornwall Senior Cup First Round
Matches watched this season: 9
Home wins: 4
Away wins: 2
Number of competitions watched: 7
Home goals: 21
Away goals: 16
Total goals: 37
If you have any thoughts or comments about this blog, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; find me on Twitter via @cupfootballblog; or find me on Facebook at Peter Harlow (the cup football blogger)
Some more pictures from St Minver v Dobwalls in the Cornwall Senior Cup First Round.