Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Stand

Wendron United  0  Porthleven  4

South West Peninsula League – Division One West

It was going like a dream, mid-way through the game at Helston Athletic, and I spotted a tweet that said my afternoon game at very close neighbours Wendron United was on!

I love it when a plan comes together, and with Mrs H and Junior booked in to see a film at Falmouth flicks, it meant a quick trip back down the A394, a farewell in a bus bay (parking was limited) and then back for the very short journey to Carnkie.

Carnkie is probably not a place many people outside of Cornwall have heard of, I’d certainly not heard of it, and it was only when I was scouring Google Maps trying to find the home of Wendron United, in Wendron of all places (obvious you would think!), that I found myself drawing a blank.

Aesthetic Beauty
Of course, a quick trip to the Peninsula League website put me straight, I was looking in the wrong place. Wendron don’t play in Wendron, they play in Carnkie, which is a very small village almost on the outskirts of Falmouth. That solved that one then, I soon located it on the map, it was just off the main road, and, in the event of me arriving and finding the game was in fact postponed, I could get to Truro City in good time who were playing Hemel Hempstead Town.

I remember everyone getting very excited about Wendron United a few years ago. They were on one of the Peninsula Hops, and if my memory serves shortly afterwards they were featured in the magazine Groundtastic.

The Clubhouse Below Pitch Level
So why the excitement? Simple really, they have a quite amazing stand that was erected only three years ago, and to be fair, it is a pretty unique structure at any level of football, let alone at Step 7.

I may be doing a disservice to the rest of the ground which is very good indeed, by singling out the stand, but allow me to explain.

The natural barrier to the pitch along the North side is a dry stone wall, but the hard standing that starts at the East end climbs up a slope behind the goal to a point where it effectively runs along the top of the wall.

View From The Stand
Built on top of this is an area of cover with a roof that slopes downward (complete with solar panels on top), and this runs the full length of the pitch. The middle section contains some seats and at this point the roof is slightly higher than the rest of the stand. This is also the only section of the stand that has a back to it. The standing areas are on two levels, the lower level atop the wall, and then a further level that steps up behind it. Quite frankly, it looks stunning and is worthy of the honour of being described as ‘Stand Porn’.

They’ve also got a very smart two storey dressing room complex behind the goal which is Football Foundation funded, while the side opposite the stand is accessible, but not without walking in front of the dugouts to make it from one end to the other. The West end of the ground in flat standing while behind it sits an artificial 5-a-side court that is floodlit.

Not Bad!
The ground itself doesn’t have floodlights, but it does have a very large clubhouse that is shared with the neighbouring cricket club, and today it was something of an Easter Family Day, so with lots of stalls set up in the club, and lots of families around, space for the casual football fan was somewhat limited!

Wendron United started life as Wendron Cricket Club United and became members of the Cornwall Combination in 1998, but then in 2007 when becoming founder members of the Peninsula League they became plain Wendron United.

The 2009-10 season saw the club resign mid-season and they then spent a further four years back in the Combination, before returning to the Peninsula in 2015, complete with new stand, where they remain today.

Porthleven on the other hand also joined the Peninsula League when it formed and have remained in the First Division West ever since, which is perhaps something of a surprise given that for eight seasons from the mid-Nineties to the Mid-Noughties they never finished lower than third in the old South Western League. Indeed it was during this period that they became known for their FA Vase exploits. I guess though that a decline in fortunes on the field coincided with the formation of the new league, and since then promotion has never really been on the cards, until now….

Wendron sat just below mid-table, whereas Porthleven knew a victory would take them top of the table, leapfrogging another Cornwall giant in the shape of Liskeard Athletic.

Match Action
A seasons best crowd of 77 saw a first half played on a good surface under the circumstances, and despite the 0-0 score line, Wendron gave as good as they had been given by Porthleven, but you did feel the visitors had the edge.

That edge turned to dominance in the second period, whereby two goals from Matt Drummond, and one each from Matt Thackeray and Rob Carey saw the men sponsored by Rick Stein cruise to a 4-0 victory.

Porthleven, you sense are a club on the way back, whereas Wendron, with their simply magnificent stand, might not be going up this season, but in terms of awards for aesthetic pleasure, you’ll struggle to find anything to beat it.


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