Football: A plate of chips and a Cornish pasting

CHELSEA AGAINST Liverpool seemed an attractive prospect last weekend: the multi- national entertainers against the former greats struggling to make sense of their season.

However, choosing a match has been harder since I left the Football Association; arrangements are not so easily made, and other factors often intrude. On this occasion my new wife wanted to visit Cornwall to regale her relatives with the details of our nuptials.

The long drive from the edge of the Fens on a wet Friday evening is not improved by the Highways Agency's apologies for delay. There was not much left of the day when we finally arrived near St Austell, so on Saturday I did not relish travelling very far. The western-most fixture in the Screwfix Direct Western League appeared to be at Bideford.

Rather than seize the chance to quiz the gentlemen or ladies of Screwfix about their experience of sponsoring football, I decided we would find a match nearer our base.

The Jewson South Western League operates further west, so Wadebridge Town v Bodmin Town was ideal. Great nephew Jason, a nine-year-old long- distance Liverpool supporter, had, surprisingly, known that Bodmin played in yellow.

Thus when we arrived at Bodieve Park shortly after the 2.30pm kick off, we knew right away the early strike from the team in red was a home goal.

Wadebridge boasts "ample" cover on page 716 of the Non-League Directory. It may be ample for their average attendance, but the small terrace in question could not accommodate many of the 126 fans who enjoyed this Cornish derby.

Half-time came with the score at 2-0. We asked the groundsman whether Wadebridge would struggle to hold their lead with the wind and slope against them. He seemed to take umbrage at our unintended slur on his pitch. "It's the same for both teams," he gruffly replied.

Perhaps it was, but the visitors, Bodmin, never adapted to the unique contours. The Wadebridge striker, Mark Rapsey, scored a hat-trick, missed a penalty and strongly urged me to recommend him to Kevin Keegan as we chatted after the 4-0 home win.

The Cornish hospitality was as warm as usual, even to the extent that I was offered a guest appearance in the Wadebridge veterans team the following morning. My playing reputation had clearly preceded me.

So, early Sunday found us on the road again, following some very precise directions to a delightful little sailing and holiday spot, Mawnan Smith, near Falmouth. The hosts were cleaning mud out of the showers when I entered the tiny dressing-room.

Soon after, the bus carrying the Wadebridge team and supporters (six wives) wound its way down the narrow lane to the ground, the driver having lost his way twice.

Players of my vintage always vie for the shorts with the 34-inch waist. No one will admit to 36 or 38. After introductions I surreptitiously squeezed into the only 38 in the kitbag. It seemed to me that the much laundered No 12 shirt, allegedly a large, had somehow shrunk to become a small- medium. The playing kit thus rendered any sharp turns totally out the question.

As I went out to warm up (it only takes me two minutes nowadays, otherwise my game is badly affected), I realised that it was going to be a difficult match. The pitch was choppy, the breeze formidable and the slope, again, considerable.

However, all went well. I struck up an instant understanding with my new team-mates, who realised after their first through ball eluded my attempts to control it and rolled speedily towards the Channel that I wanted passes to feet. I am a deceptive footballer, slower than I look. We won 4-0 to complete a successful double for Wadebridge. After the obligatory group photograph and a plate of chips, we said our farewells and I settled down with the newspapers for the long journey home.

Robbie Fowler had reportedly made a disgusting gesture to Graeme Le Saux. Now while the Laws of the Game say that a player must be sent off if he is heard by the referee to use offensive, insulting or abusive language, there is insufficient punishment for obscene gestures. The offending player can be cautioned for unsporting behaviour, but this is not enough. There should be an offence of gross unsporting behaviour.

Nor can the referee be expected to hear the verbal exchanges that occur between opponents, whether the taunts are of a racist, sexist or merely abusive nature.

Sledging needs to be outlawed by a Professional Footballers' Association edict. If the Fowler-Le Saux bust up leads to the players (and the managers) agreeing to stamp out verbal wind-ups, then all the fuss will have been worthwhile.

But sadly the fresh air of Cornwall already seems a distant memory.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Repairs Co-ordinator

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is currently seeki...

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading display company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Estate Inspection Supervisor

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of commercial sec...

Ashdown Group: Senior Network Engineer - London - £75,000

£60000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An excellent opportunity ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003