Falmouth Town FC
Date: 26th July 2016
Falmouth Town 4-2 Porthleven
Dave Gardner Trophy
Falmouth Town FC - History
Falmouth Town were founded in 1949 and became founder members of the South Western League in 1951, finishing bottom in 1952/53 and 1954/55 before finishing as runners-up in 1958/59. In 1961/62, they went one better and won the league, before becoming the first (and, until earlier this season when Truro City managed it, only) team from Cornwall to reach the FA Cup 1st Round, losing 2-1 to Oxford United after beating Barnstaple Town, St Blazey, Bideford and Bath City in the Qualifying Rounds.
Falmouth Town continued to experience local success, before once again making national headlines in the 1967/68 season when they reached the 1st Round of the FA Cup for the second time, this time losing 4-1 at Peterborough United, having beaten Penzance, Wadebridge Town, Bideford and Minehead to get that far. This feat was again repeated in the 1969/70 season, with Falmouth once again losing to Peterborough United.
In 1974, the club moved up to the Western League due to their dominance in local football but, after winning the title in their first four seasons, the club started to struggle and were forced to withdraw from the league in 1983 due to increased travelling costs. They were forced to drop down to the Cornwall Combination League after this due to the South Western League rejecting their application.
Falmouth Town went on to win the title of the Cornwall Combination seven times (1985/86, 1986/87, 1988/89, 1989/90, 1991/92, 1996/97 and 1999/2000) before joining the newly-formed South West Peninsula League in 2007, being placed in the league's Premier Division, where they have remained ever since.
While the club have an illustrious history in the FA Cup, they haven't competed in the competition since the 2011/12 season and haven't won a game in it since the 2009/10 season. In the FA Trophy, the club's best run was to the 2nd Round in the 1977/78 season, beating Minehead in the 1st Round before losing 4-0 at Hendon. In the FA Vase, the club's best run came in their first season in the competition in 1986/87, when they reached the Quarter Finals: they beat Brislington, Westbury United, Bristol Manor Farm, Exmouth Town, Clevedon Town and Witham Town before losing to St. Helens Town in a replay.
My visit to Falmouth Town had been in the planning for a long time before it finally happened, as I decided I was going to visit the moment I heard we were going on a family holiday to Falmouth in Summer 2016; with opportunities to visit Cornwall probably not likely to come up many times in the future, and with some rumours about Falmouth soon leaving Bickland Park, I decided I had to visit while I was down there. Looking back on it now, though, I would say I regret not taking advantage of the holiday in Cornwall more, as I could have visited Truro City the night before this game and Helston Athletic the night after, but I didn't take that opportunity unfortunately; I'm sure I would do if I went to Cornwall now, though.
In any case, as seems to be a recurring trend, we somehow got lost trying to find the ground - despite its fairly conspicuous location on a hill - and eventually found it around 20 minutes before kick-off. With my step-dad having taken me to the game, he gave me permission to use his camera this time around, which means the photos I took as I did my circuit of the ground were better than they would usually be, especially with the rain that started to fall as I went.
In any case, the game eventually got underway after a minute's silence (the Dave Gardner Trophy seems to be a memorial tournament of sorts, which is held every season it seems) - which was unfortunately interrupted by some people doing aerobics or something in some woodland nearby - the game got underway, with both teams playing at a higher intensity than I had seen in other pre-season friendlies earlier in the season.
Unfortunately, I've been unable to find a match report for this game online and barely remember anything else about it, other than the fact that Porthleven's second goal was from the penalty spot (and even then I only remember that because I got some (terrible) photos of it).
Of all the non-league grounds I have visited so far, Bickland Park is by far and away my favourite of them, as it's a ground absolutely brimming with character; it's definitely one I would recommend to every groundhopper out there, and that's despite all the issues with getting to and from Cornwall.
The centre-piece of the ground is the imposing main stand, which takes excellent advantage of the ground's location on a hill (the main stand is built into the hill, or at least the part of it that wasn't flattened out for the pitch) and apparently can fit 350 people; saying that, it looked to me as if it could easily fit 500 people in it, should the need ever arise. The sloped terrace behind the near goal is also an absolute classic and unlike anything I've seen at any other ground, and not just because part of it is covered (with a sloping roof to match); including the covered area, the terrace could probably fit 1,000 people on it.
There are smaller areas of cover on the other side of the ground and behind the near goal, each of which could probably hold around 100 people. The rest of the ground is open hard standing, although even this is unique in that part of it goes up the hill and behind the main stand to lead to the clubhouse; there's also a couple of small white structures up here, although I don't know what purpose they serve.
Overall, the ground has an official capacity of 6,000, but the record attendance was 8,000 for the FA Cup game against Oxford United in 1963.