Monday 19 July 2021

Sidmouth Town - Manstone Road

Sidmouth Town FC 
Manstone Recreation Ground
EX10 9TF

01395 577087

Ground Number: 975
Sunday 18th July 2021
Sidmouth Town 1-4 Helston Athletic


The club was established as far back as 1895 with them spending the vast majority of their history in the Devon & Exeter League. They were Premier Division champions in 1968 and 2011. After the latter of these titles, they joined the South West Peninsula League. They played in the step 7 Division 1 East at first, generally finishing in the bottom half, their best finish coming in 2019 when they finished in 9th place. That summer, the league switched to a single-tier step 6 league, regionalised over two divisions. Sidmouth Town were 10th in the first abandoned season but bottom when the season was abandoned this time out. 

Sidmouth Town are yet to play in the FA Cup but they made their debut in the FA Vase in 2018. They beat Keynsham Town and Godolphin Athletic before losing out to Cadbury Heath in the 1st Round. The town of Sidmouth is situated in Devon, 14 miles from Exeter and on the English Channel. It is a tourist resort and a gateway to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. A large part of the town has been designated a conservation area. The population is just over 12,500. It is one of the older populations with an average age of 59. There is a beach, but the lack of size and shelter prevented the town from becoming a port or harbour town. It is home to a folk week that occurs in early August and also has a town band. It is twinned with Le Locle in Switzerland.


For the last day of my long weekend in the far west, the only game option was Sidmouth Town v Helston Athletic. This was fine by me as it was on the way home from Falmouth and it also had a 1PM kick-off which better suited me. I awoke at 4am on the day of the game after a fairly early night. After listening to audiobooks and watching YouTube for a few hours, I got up and started packing things away before grabbing a shower. I left at 9, stopping at Okehampton Argyle on the way for pictures. I was glad to see confirmation of the game going ahead and from there it was 40 minutes to Sidmouth with me getting there at 11.40. There was still a while until kick-off so with the ground quiet, I went to Lidl to get a cookie and a pretzel for lunch. I then headed back to the ground with plenty of time to rest until kickoff. It was free entry and around 30 turned up to watch.


Helston Athletic scored with their first attack, 'Archie' nicked the ball off the defender before a cool finish from 15 yards after a couple of minutes. Despite Helston dominating the opening half, they didn't create many chances. Sidmouth equalised on 37 minutes with their first real chance. It was a low cross turned in from five yards. with chances at a premium. Helston came close, nearly turning in a cross but all that happened was that their #5 got concussion heading the post. It was the second head injury of the day but thankfully both players were OK.  On 75 minutes, Helston did take the lead, the striker rounding the keeper and finishing into an empty net. On 79 minutes, a penalty was awarded for a trip and the taker stepped up to make it 3-1. On 80 minutes Helston narrowly missed making it 4-1. But apparently, it was 4-1 to Helston, I have to front up and say I missed a goal, perhaps when I went to the toilet. But nevertheless, a decent game of football was enjoyed. The drive home was long and tiring. I stopped at Basingstoke Sainsbury's for petrol and generally got decent fuel economy taking it easy. I listened to the Sam Allardyce audiobook on the way back, but still, the journey dragged. I was back at 6.45, happy to see my parents. I don't usually drink on a Sunday, but as it was my birthday, I decided to indulge. I had a Sheppy's Champion Gold Medal, followed by a Lidl Scrumpy and an Old Rosie. This combined with the heat and a chat with fellow hopper Colin on a video call, meant I didn't get much done. I fell asleep around 10, having a decent nights sleep given the heat.


The Manstone Recreation Ground is as the name implies, in a public park. As such, it is not enclosed and has no turnstiles. There are two areas of cover with seating for 50 and standing for around the same amount. The rest of the ground is open hard standing and is very well kept. The bar offers the usual range of drinks as well as pies and pasties. Near the ground is a Lidl, a bakery and a pub, all within 5 minutes walk. 

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