While pre-season games are not everybody’s cup of tea and pre-season tournaments are even less popular, when the Errea Southwest Challenge Cup was announced last year I had fancied trying to get to a couple of games. I managed zero. This season I won’t be making the same mistake as North Devon isn’t known for its football, so it is good to see something like this on my doorstep.
Last years tournament was contested by 8 teams; Crystal Palace, Yeovil Town, Torquay United, Kidderminster Harriers, Eastleigh, Chertsey Town, Bideford and Barnstaple Town. With the games being held over 3 grounds, Bideford’s Sports Ground, Barnstaple’s Field Mill and Appledore’s Marshford. Blue Square South team Eastleigh ended up winners after being Torquay United on penalties after a 2-2 draw. This season’s tournament looks a lot better with 12 teams entering (detailed below) and two other grounds added to host games, Ilfracombe’s Marlborough Park and Torrington’s Vicarage Field. I do plan to get to two games, both with reasons for going to them, rather than just a random day out. Here are the teams contesting:
Group A: - Eastleigh (holders) – Conference South team, finished 3rd last season
- Exeter City – League 1, promoted last season after finishing 2nd
- Ilfracombe Town – Western Premier, finished 14th last season
Group B: – Grimsby Town – League 2, survived thanks to Luton Town’s unfair penalty last season (22nd)
- RRFC Montegnée – Belgian Provincial League, dark horses
- Yeovil Town – League 1, finished 17th last season
Group C: – Bideford AFC – Western Premier, finished 6th last season
- Luton Town – Blue Square Premier, relegated from League 2 last season
- Wycombe Wanderers – League 1, promoted last season after finishing 3rd
Group D: – Barnstaple Town – Western Premier, finished 18th last season
- Blackpool – Championship, Ian Holloway back to his part of the World
- Rushden and Diamonds – Blue Square Premier, finished 11th last season
The two games I will be going to are both in Group C (thats just how the draw worked out!), firstly on the 13th (tomorrow), I will be going to Appledore to watch RRFC Montegnée vs Yeovil Town. I wanted to see this Belgian team as soon as their entry was announced, I’ll detail about them in my blog report as its quite an opportunity to see a club run the way they are to come to this region. The 2nd game I am planning to go to is on the 17th which is Grimsby Town vs Yeovil Town. Not very exciting I know, however that is being played in the village I live in of Torrington, a small place of around 2000 people (if that) so to see two Football League teams play at the local ground will be quite surreal.
More details of the grounds and games after I’ve been, and I might even do a tournament report for all you lucky people. The games should be good way to kick off the season even though they are 40 mins each way in the Group Stage, with the 4 Group Winners meeting in the Semi-Finals. Good luck to the 12 teams taking part!