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.

News
i100
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Financial Accountants, Cardiff, £250 p/day

£180 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountants - Key Banking...

Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Real Staffing - Leeds - £18k+

£18000 - £27000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sales - Trainee Recruitment Co...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices