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Helston Athletic 0 Hayle 1 (21/10/2006) 30/10/2006

Posted by Ian Grant in Match reports.

As away trips go, this is a fairly hefty one: Helston is more than three hundred miles away on the Lizard, and we set off at not-much-past-six in the morning to reach the end of Cornwall in time for kickoff. As it happens, we’re a little early, and there’s time to park pitch-side and watch the players warm up; Aidy Boothroyd’s innovative and entirely bewildering “all bump into each other and then run away” drill has yet to reach these parts, I can reveal.

This is the first round of the League Cup – not that League Cup, clearly – and cup fever brings out the usual crowd of family and friends to greet the visitors from Hayle, up north. Almost certainly, we are the only people here not to know at least one of the players personally. “Which one’s dad?” squeaks one of the marauding toddlers upon momentarily noticing that there’s a football match going on over there. We gather in the semi-shelter of the terrace that fringes the clubhouse, a terrace more in the sense of patio furniture than of swaying thousands.

The weather is never far from conversation in this part of the world, and it plays a fulsome part in proceedings here. The wind sweeps across from right to left, sending the Hayle keeper’s kicks skidding deep into the Helston half; attempts to launch the ball in the opposite direction are less successful, steepling upwards and then finally admitting defeat well short of halfway. Thus, Hayle – a tidier passing side anyway – dominate from the start, although the linesman’s flag saves them from a rare and incisive counter-attack around the quarter-hour. The Helston keeper makes a fine sprawling save to deny the opening goal before the inevitable: a tidy header from the visitors’ number nine. His celebration is incongruously theatrical, parading with fists aloft to embarrassed silence from the terrace; justice is duly served when he balloons an absolute sitter over the bar five minutes later, and a few amused jeers break through the idle chatter to commemorate the moment.

Sarah potters off in search of refreshment and returns with welcome, warming tea…albeit that the wind whips the liquid into an uncontrollable storm, making it undrinkable without crouching down behind a wall for shelter. Sarah potters off again and returns with two Mars bars and a Crunchie, a pound “for cash” from the bar; that’s only ten pence more than Arsenal charge for a single Yorkie. This is a different world, of course. A world where money still has some meaning. A world where winning a free kick involves a stumbling belly-flop rather than an elegant swallow dive. A world where football exists for its own sake, even in a perpetual howling gale. It’s a rather pleasant world, all told.

Aided by the wind, Helston give it their best in the second half, but they lack the quality to take the half-chances that they create and they compete with spirit more than genuine belief. They have the look of a side that’s not quite getting the breaks. (Yes, I know.) Suddenly, the gusts have spikes, piercing rain that drives everyone but the managers on the touchline further under cover and leaves behind an arcing rainbow for Helston to aim towards. They keep plugging away, yet the result is decided with plenty of time to spare.

The final whistle is greeted by…well, nothing at all. The players shake hands among themselves, the spectators continue to talk among themselves…and we wander off to leave them to it and head south past RNAS Culdrose and onwards, to the Lizard Point for the rest of a week’s holiday. Hundreds of miles away, Matt is composing a text message with the final score from the Valley…but we’ll have left mobile phone signals behind by the time that he sends it. And we’ll have left the Lizard, Helston and all, behind by the time that you read this. But only for now.


1. billyo - 30/10/2006

As noble as it is to support lower league football Ig, today’s one word match report must surely be:


2. Stuart - 30/10/2006

That’s a quality report, good old cornish football! I once saw Bodmin Town lose 9-1 in a friendly at home to Sheffield Wednesday, when Chris Waddle scored about 5. That was yonks ago though, but I thank my Dad for taking me to see Waddle play! A highlight of one of our numerous holidays to Cornwall.

3. Matthew - 30/10/2006

“Sarah potters off again and returns with two Mars bars and a Crunchie, a pound “for cash” from the bar; that’s only ten pence more than Arsenal charge for a single Yorkie.”

And Watford as well, I do believe.

4. King Albert II - 03/11/2006

No mobile signal past Helston?

Is that ig fellow with T-Mobile as well by any chance?

5. Ian Grant - 03/11/2006

I’m with Virgin. So that’s a “yes”, I think, by proxy. It’s a short-lived “yes”, though: I’m bored enough with receiving text messages three days after they were sent as punishment for living in a basement flat that I’m going to get a proper phone at long last. When I can be bothered.

6. Nick - 04/11/2006

Why not? I say.

Non-league really is the perfect antidote to the Premiership (not, not). The half-time cup of tea at my local club is just 50p and is served in a proper mug (hey, no ‘proper mug’ jokes please!) Then about halfway through the second-half someone comes round with a tray to collect them all!

How’s about everyone who’s refusing to pay £48 next Saturday taking in a non-league game? I reckon you’d enjoy it.

7. Kev - 10/11/2006

“How’s about everyone who’s refusing to pay £48 next Saturday taking in a non-league game? I reckon you’d enjoy it.”

Yep – sounds like a good idea. I’m off to Kettering to see them play Oldham in the first round of the FA Cup. (Technically therefore not a “non-league” game I guess – but hey-ho).

Now – how do I explain the onion?

8. Nick - 13/11/2006

Kev, Kettering game sounded like a corker. 3-3 and lost to a last minute goal I think?

Also saw that Lee – my, what a long throw you’ve got – Sinnott’s Farsley Celtic held Franchise FC to a 0-0 yesterday. Here’s hoping for an upset in the replay.

9. patio furnitures - 09/04/2007

i think this game will be draw. sure and confident..yeahhh

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