Ludgvan 3 Bodmin Town 3 (after extra time). Bodmin won 5-3 on penalties.
Score after 90 minutes: 1-1
RGB Building Supplies Cornwall Senior Cup quarter-final
Cup Magic Moment: Difficult to pick just one after such an enthralling encounter but I loved Ludgvan’s celebrations when they got it back to 3-3; thoroughly enjoyed the enthusiasm of the youngsters behind the goal during the penalty shoot-out; and admired the sportsmanship of both sets of players and officials after the match following this really intense cup tie.
SINCE I set out on this cup football journey 18 months ago, I have occasionally lost focus and had a bit of a waffle. I’ve been distracted by the weather, by referees, by money matters, by the scenery and by my journeys to and from different footballing outposts in the far South West. Sometimes, it has felt as if the football has taken a bit of a back seat.
Not this time.
This was an absolute belter of a cup tie, played in a cracking atmosphere in front of a raucous crowd, with drama from the kick-off all the way through to the final spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out. The pace of events never dropped and you could not take your eyes off the action as the chances of a major cup shock, fell, rose, fell again, rose once more and were finally, cruelly, dashed.
This was exactly the sort of match that inspired me to focus on cup football. I love the drama, the immediacy, the emotional charge of knockout football. Winning is everything and, to win, you have to score, generally making games more open and exciting.
That has certainly been the case this season. I haven’t yet seen one dull game and the only one which finished 0-0 after 90 minutes – between Truro City and Forest Green Rovers in the FA Trophy – was of the highest quality, was intensely nerve-racking, and was settled by one superb strike in extra time.
I have seen goals galore, including an incredible 8-3 scoreline after extra time; I’ve seen a 6-2 cup shock in a monsoon; and last week I saw an absolute cracker between derby rivals Sticker and St Dennis which finished 4-3, settled by an injury-time penalty. But, in pure cup football terms, this was better than all of them.
Ludgvan, down in the west of Cornwall, are an ambitious club. They won the Cornwall Combination League last season but missed out on promotion to the Step 7 Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Division One West because of ground grading. They are aiming to put that right this time around.
Bodmin Town are the big fish in the Cornwall footballing pond at this level. Last season they won this competition, were crowned champions of the Peninsula League Premier Division and, of course, completed the treble by winning the Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Walter C Parson Funeral Directors League Cup. They are still in with a decent chance of defending all three of them this season.
So the scene was set for a proper cup collision between two top teams and it certainly attracted the interest of Cornwall’s footballing faithful. There were photographers and writers everywhere – indeed, I knew I was in the right place when I parked opposite Dave Deacon of Cornish Football magazine. I might not always know where I am going but I am confident that he does!
The set-up, with its community centre clubhouse, bar and balcony made a great first impression on this first-time visitor. I watched the opening ten minutes from that balcony, from where everything looked pristine, and then made my way down to pitch-level to get closer to the action. It wasn’t quite so pristine close up – the ground was wet and soft and mud was definitely on the menu.
On a day when cup clichés were to abound – blood and thunder, magic of the cup, giants and minnows, hearts broken, etc – I did hear one radio reporter describe the conditions as a “great leveller”. That’s probably true up to a point, but it is also a bit unfair on Ludgvan who, after a nervous start, showed real quality, gave as good as they got and almost pulled off just about the most unlikely cup shock the Duchy could possibly have seen this season.
Things could have been so different, to coin another cliché, if a 21st-minute rocket from the home side had found the back of the Bodmin net, rather than crashing against the crossbar. There were “oohs” and hands on head all around the park. But now there was real belief that a giant-killing could really happen.
That feeling was punctured a bit just before half-time when Bodmin finally took one of the many chances that both sides had created and so led at the break. Midway through the second half, that feeling was very much alive again when Ludgvan levelled. Game on.
By now, the locals were not so much getting restless as raucous. They were making a great noise and letting the higher-ranked side know that they didn’t think much of their efforts so far. It was great stuff.
As a relative newcomer to Cornwall – I have only been here for just over six years – I still have a lot to learn about this part of the world. I have spent a lot of my time in Falmouth and Truro, which are not always the most Cornish of towns due to the influx of visitors, students and incomers like me. Ludgvan, just a couple of miles up the road from Penzance, felt like “proper” Cornwall.
A couple of years ago, I made one of my irregular visits to a Rugby Union match, this time to watch Redruth. That was a passionate crowd, with its “Hellfire Corner” and Celtic fieriness. It was loud and proud there and it was loud and proud at Ludgvan. I loved it.
Even when Bodmin scored twice in the first period of extra time, the home side’s fight never faltered. They pulled a goal back on 100 minutes and then thrashed home a cracker in the 108th minute to tie the game up and spark wild celebrations, with substitutes running on the pitch to embrace the scorer and everyone else then piling in. The crowd noise level was magnificent and, if any one moment this season is really going to embrace the joy and drama of cup football, that was it. Simply magic.
And all this for a £3 entry fee plus 50p for a cup of tea. Now that’s value for money.
Sadly, for lovers of a proper giant-killing, Bodmin’s extra quality finally shone through in the penalty shoot-out which eventually settled this quarter-final classic. They scored all five, Ludgvan missed one, and that was that. The cup tie, and Ludgvan’s run in the Senior Cup, were over.
However, the Combination side can be fiercely proud of their efforts and I, for one, hope they win their battle to earn promotion to the SWPL this season. They are a club and a side who would be a credit to the league.
Meanwhile, Bodmin’s relentless march to more silverware continues. It’s not always easy to like teams who win everything, but their sportsmanship and appreciation of Ludgvan’s efforts as the players left the pitch were a real credit to them. Once more, they are going to take some stopping this season.
But, to finish with a cliché which really sums up a classic day of cup football, I have to say: “Honestly, Brian, on the day, football was the real winner.” There’s no argument with that.
FOOTNOTE: If you have any comments on this article, or any others in this series of blogs, email me on email@example.com, find me on Twitter, via @cupfootballblog, or find me on Facebook by searching for Peter Harlow. There are two of me on there – the one you want is the one with that hat.