Sunday 31 March 2024

Ivybridge Town - Erme Valley

Ivybridge Town FC
Erme Valley
Ermington Road
PL21 9ES

Ground Number: 1291
Saturday 30th March 2024
Ivybridge Town 6-0 Dartmouth
South West Peninsula East


The club was established in 1925 and joined the Plymouth & District League in 1926. They later became members of the Plymouth & District Combination, which was formed by the league's merger with the Plymouth Combination League. Ivybridge Town were founder members of the Devon League in 1992. They finished as runners-up in 2003 & 2004 before becoming champions in 2006. In 2007, the league merged with the South West League to form the South West Peninsula League. Ivybridge Town were placed in the Premier Division which sat at step 6 of the Non-League pyramid. They have been there ever since, moving to the Eastern Division when the league was expanded in 2019. Their highest finish is 4th, achieved on five occasions.

Ivybridge Town have played in the FA Vase continuously since 2015. Their best run came in 2018 when they beat Cullompton Rangers & Holyport before losing to Saltash United in the 2nd Round. Local cup wins include the Devon League Charity Shield in 2004, two Devon Premier Cups and two Thogmorton Cups. Well-known players to turn out for the club include former Plymouth Argyle, Exeter City, Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield United defender Nicky Marker who was also on the management team for nearly a decade.

The town of Ivybridge is 13 miles east of Plymouth and has a population of around 12,000. The early urbanisation and development of Ivybridge largely coincided with the Industrial Revolution. Stowford Paper Mill was built in 1787 and rebuilt again in the 1860s with extensive investment. The paper mill closed in 2013 after 226 years in Ivybridge and the buildings were converted to homes and shops. The topography of Ivybridge is generally hilly. This is because of the River Erme which flows right through the centre of town. The town's natural landmark is Western Beacon; a hill that overlooks the town. People walk up there for the views of Ivybridge and the South Hams. The town's first manmade landmark is the Ivy Bridge; a 13th-century hump-backed bridge covered in Ivy. It is still in use today and gives the name of the town – Ivybridge.


It was an easy and short journey from Elburton Villa to Ivybridge Town. I'd done research and parking looked tricky so it was an easy decision to leave my car along with the other hoppers on a decent wide road around five minutes walk from the ground. It was another £6 to get in, the standard and fair price for all the games. We headed straight for the clubhouse and Colin got me a pastie and a can of Thatchers Haze. The former was tasty and had good thick pastry but nowhere near as good as the one I had at Falmouth Town via Pip's pasties of Penryn. It was the perfect amount of time before the game to have a rest and a walk around to get some photos.
Ivybridge Town were enjoying the best season in their history, sitting top of the league by some 23 points. They had won 22 of their 26 games so far this season although by their standards were in patchy form having lost 2-1 at Teignmouth last Saturday, won 3-1 at Bridport before that and to complete the set, drawn 1-1 at Stoke Gabriel & Torbay Police. By contrast, Dartmouth were rock bottom and had won once all season. They were in great form by their standards, thumping Bishops Lydeard 4-1 in their last game two weeks ago and gaining a credible 1-1 draw against Elburton Villa before that.  The hosts were close to winning the league and had the better of the game. They took the lead on 40 minutes, a low shot on the turn from the edge of the area. Dartmouth were proving a tough nut to crack, strong defensively and very direct. A close-range header from a corner made it 2-0 just after the hour. Despite some good stops from the Dartmouth keeper, it was 3-0 on 75 minutes, a blocked shot followed up. A few minutes later, they added a 4th and a 5th a few minutes after that. As full-time approached another one went in, shortly after they'd had one disallowed for offside.
From the game, it was a dark and wet drive over to Torquay through some pretty substandard roads. I was glad I wasn't driving home tonight and we got to our hotel at 9.30. Parking was tricky in the densely packed streets but I found something five minutes walk away. We were staying in a Britannia hotel which had a pretty rotten reputation, but had decided to take a gamble due to the cost. It paid off, despite us being the youngest guests by at least 20 years. It was a matter of dumping our bags and in Colin's case something in the toilet before we headed out. It was half an hours walk to the Wetherspoons, but not before I'd sent out a Tweet referencing a famous Fawlty Towers scene. We got to the Green Ginger at 10.15 and in my case, ordered a pint of Black Dragon. It was very busy and unsurprisingly, stuff took a while to come. It was reminiscent of the one in High Wycombe on a Saturday night and I was glad to get a table. A few pints and some chicken and chips were enjoyed before we headed back. A pleasant stroll got us back at 12.15, having had a good night. 


ERME VALLEY is a ground set in beautiful surroundings and it is the only one I know that has a river running alongside the far side and a man with a fishing net to collect any stray balls. Parking is available, plus there is plenty outside. Food and drink is basic but wholesome. There is one area of cover, the standard metal stand holding around 50.

Elburton Villa - Haye Road

Elburton Villa FC
Haye Road

Ground Number: 1290
Saturday 30th March 2024
Elburton Villa 1-2 Bovey Tracey
South West Peninsula East


The club was established in 1982 as a successor to Elburton Red Triangle who played opposite their current home in local leagues. They joined the Plymouth & District League and won the Division 1 title in 1991. In 1992 the club were founder members of the Devon County League. They would remain there until 2007 when their last season saw their best finish of 3rd behind Dartmouth and Newton Abbot. That year, they became founder members of the South West Peninsula League, formed out of a merger between some Devon League clubs and the South West League. In 2013, they enjoyed their best finish in their history as they finished 3rd in the Premier Division (step 6) behind Bodmin Town & Plymouth Parkway. In 2016 they finished bottom and were relegated to Division 1 West. In their first season, they finished as runners-up to Sticker but had to wait until the following season when they finished 3rd to return to the Premier Division following Stoke Gabriel's relegation One season was spent back in the Premier Division before the league was expanded to two regional divisions. Elburton Villa have played in the East Division ever since.

Elburton Villa have yet to play in the FA Cup but they have played a few seasons in the FA Vase. Their best run came in 2022 when they beat Dobwalls, Torrington and Ashton & Backwell United before being beaten by Bridgwater United in the 2nd Round. In terms of local cups, the club won the Devon County League Throgmorton Cup in 1995. Elburton is a village or small suburb of Plymstock, part of the City of Plymouth in southwest Devon. It lies on the southeastern edge of Plymouth and is a gateway to the South Hams. Elburton has a small shopping area with a supermarket, newsagent, post office, butchers, and fast food restaurants. There are two pubs in the village as well as a garage. Along with nearby Dunstone, it has a population of just under 6,000.


It had been a horrible year for weather and especially rain. This was highlighted by fellow hopper Colin, who has to rely on public transport and favours had been to Elburton Villa before me. This was as much due to wear and tear on Plymouth Parkway's pitch that he needed the backup to avoid a wasted journey, but at least it boded well should it rain again. We'd already lost two games in Blackpool earlier in the month and there were even mass postponements in July and August, basically amounting to no or minimal summer. Unless the weather changes its attitude and there's little to suggest that it will, then a takeup of 3G pitches will be essential. The stubborn FA are pretty inflexible with the season-end date for some leagues which must put a fair bit of pressure on playing squads and volunteers at non-league clubs. For the South West Peninsula League, the start of the week marked the 150th wet weather postponement of the season.
From our last game at Liskeard, I needed petrol. The nearest was a well priced BP a few minutes away. However, due to the cramped nature of the station and people having large cars, there was a queue and barely enough room to open my door. From there a journey that should have taken half an hour took 70 minutes due to us being diverted due to a road closure. We got there at 2.50, parking in the playing fields opposite and walking a few minutes to the game. I grabbed a can and headed in, getting on a few minutes before the teams came out. It looked as if a fair few others had the same travel issues.
Back in the East Division for this game, Elburton Villa sat in 10th. They'd drawn 2-2 against Bridport on Saturday and were unbeaten in ten games. Bovey Tracey were in 4th and had barely played lately, but had won 7-0 at Torridgeside in their last game on 9th March. They were unbeaten in five games. It was Elburton Villa having the better of the game early on though a great away kit from Bovey Tracey. Elburton had one cleared off of the line early on but it was Bovey Tracey who struck first after 15 minutes. Haynes following up after an initial shot was saved. It was 2-0 on 29 minutes. Bovey got a throw in down the left, Perring picked out Aplin who flicked it on perfectly for the run of Haynes who made no mistake from close range. On 63 minutes, a strange old goal. Bovey Tracey player clears a shot off the line, takes the ball in his knackers. The ref says handball, sends the player off and awards a penalty that Elburton Villa score. Baffling. It had been a good game but Elburton skied a couple of chances from which they should have done better. There was a scuffle near the end, the two players walked off the pitch together and chatted to each other for the final few minutes. A free kick from Elburton came close but the resulting corner came to nothing.

HAYE ROAD is part of a large complex of multiple pitches, a lot of which are railed off and worth a visit in their own right. Outside the main pitch is a smart bar serving mainly cans and a food hatch around the side. The ground itself has steep banking and a viewing area above which offers an elevated view of the action. In addition, there are two covered areas, holding around 50 each. There is also a decent amount of parking around the area.

Liskeard Athletic - Lux Park

Liskeard Athletic FC
Lux Park
Coldstyle Road
PL14 3HZ

Ground Number: 1289
Saturday 30th March 2024
Liskeard Athletic 2-0 Dobwalls
South West Peninsula West


The current club was established in 1946 after the Second World War but a club did exist in the town at the turn of the 20th century but went bust in 1935. After playing in local leagues such as the East Cornwall League, they joined the South Western League in 1966. Liskeard Athletic were champions in 1977 & 1979. After the latter win, they joined the Western League, finishing 3rd in Division 1 in their first season. This earned them promotion to the Western Premier which they won in 1988 as well as finishing as runners-up to Exmouth Town in 1986 and Taunton Town in 1990. Financial considerations saw the club drop back into the South Western League in 1995 despite success at the higher level. They were runners-up to St Blazey in the last-ever South Western League in 2007 before it merged with another league to become the South West Peninsula League. Liskeard Athletic were placed in the Premier Division and despite finishing 7th in 2012 were relegated to the Division 1 West in 2014 after finishing bottom and winning once all season. They won this division in 2019, at the time the league was being restructured and they were promoted to the West Division which sits at step 6 of the Non-League pyramid. They were runners-up to Falmouth Town in 2022 but there was only one promotion place available.

Liskeard Athletic have embarked upon fifteen FA Cup campaigns. Their best run has been to the 3rd Qualifying Round, reached on four occasions. In the FA Vase, their best run came during the 1994/95 season. They beat Wellington, Bideford, Cinderford & Tunbridge Wells before a defeat to fellow Cornwall side Falmouth Town in the 4th Round. Local cup wins include the Cornwall Senior Cup on seven occasions, two South Western League Cups, the Cornwall Charity Cup in 1980 and the Merit Cup in 1981. The market town of Liskeard is situated 20 miles west of Plymouth and has a population of around 11,000.


Though this hop was primarily based in Devon, this would be the sole game in Cornwall as far as I could work out. Cornwall I think, was my least visited county with only Truro City's old ground (got food poisoning, narrowly avoided a waterlogged pitch and saw a 0-0), Newquay (fantastic pork and apple sausage rolls), AFC St Austell (a last-minute replacement for Wadebridge during Covid) and Falmouth Town (my favourite ground of all). I think the reason was that transport links are not so good and the lack of backups should the weather be bad. My favoured value-for-money option was to go for a midweek game and get the overnight coach back. For most though, the car was by far the most convenient option, albeit potentially very pricey.
I awoke early on the day of the game, being used to getting up for work. I felt pretty decent though and finished off my blogs from last night. After relaxing for a bit, we left at 8.30 and walked the five minutes to the car. It wasn't the best journey over to Liskeard, Google Maps choosing us some right obscure single-track roads for some reason. We were in Liskeard at 9.45, walking 15 minutes to Wetherspoons 319, The King Doniert. A breakfast was needed as I was starving and as tempting as a pint of Black Dragon was from the excellent cider selection, I went for Stowford Press at half the strength. It was all very nice and pleasant and I think the hoppers that stopped over here had a better place to look around than we did at Holsworthy. We were at the ground 45 minutes ahead of kickoff. Entry was the standard £6 and a disappointing programme was £1. Though it had been lovely and sunny so far, it didn't take the weather long to return to the standard rain as the heavens opened as kick-off approached.


Continuing where we left off yesterday in the West Division, Liskeard Athletic were the highest-placed team so far, sitting in 2nd.They'd won 3-0 at Wadebridge Town in their last game and had a good shot at that title, however, leaders AFC St Austell held the Indian sign over them this season results-wise. Local rivals Dobwalls were in 6th and in mixed form. They'd won 1-0 at Newquay in their last game. Dobwalls started the better side but it soon levelled out. On 21 minutes, Liskeard took the lead, Ruben Kane turning in a right-hand-sided ball from six yards. The game got quite physical at times, much to the chargrin of the Dobwalls manager who was very vocally active. His side started the second half strongly, playing down the slope. However, Liskeard doubled their lead from close range, Max Gilbert rounding the keeper to finish on 52 minutes. That was it as far as scoring was concerned with Liskeard safely seeing the game out.

LUX PARK is a pleasant ground located around a 15-minute walk from the town centre. There is buses for public transport and street parking for cars. The ground itself has a small clubhouse, a BBQ and a merchandise stall. There a couple of areas of cover, an old stand holding around 100 and a standing area holding around the same time. The view from a lot of this is not great due to the dugouts in front but it was useful on a rainy day.