All-ticket league matches are a rarity in the semi-professional game, so this afternoon's events at Horsdon Park, Tiverton, will attract attention far beyond the West Country. The 2,000- capacity ground stages not just a local derby but a match that could decide the destiny of the Great Mills League title.
The home side, Elmore, lead the league by two points from their visitors, Tiverton Town, who have a game in hand. Elmore have been the underdogs in the east Devon town in recent years: they have watched their neighbours reach the FA Vase final in 1993 and win the league by a 16-point margin, without losing a match, last season.
This term, though, under the management of the former Southampton, Exeter and Colchester midfielder, Eamonn Collins, Elmore have emerged from the shadows to challenge "Tivvy" for their title. However, Tuesday's 4-2 setback at Westbury - only Elmore's second league defeat of the season - means that Tiverton can take over at the top of the table if they win this afternoon's encounter. After more than 2,000 watched their Boxing Day meeting, Elmore are hoping for a full house. "We've sold about 1500 tickets so far," Lester Tapp, Elmore's secretary, said last night. "People are coming from as far away as Berkshire."
Tiverton's 2-1 home win over Taunton on Monday took their goal tally for the season to 100. Their players might need a rest this time next week, though: after today's game they have home fixtures against Calne on Sunday and Crediton on Monday evening, followed by a trip to Saltash on Wednesday.