Ground #: 24
Ground: Vicarage Field (normally used by Torrington FC)
Competition: Errea Southwest Challenge Cup 2009 Group Stage
Kick Off: 7pm
Cost: £5 (day ticket – allowed entry to all 4 matches being played that day)
Programme: £1 (tournament programme)
Yeovil Town 2
Tomlin 62’, Williams 75’
Grimsby Town 3
Conlon (pen) 30’, North 42’, Arnold 77’
Its not everyday that two Football League teams come and play football in your local village. A village that hardly anybody has heard of and where not a lot happens. Therefore, when the SW Challenge Cup games were announced that a game would be played in Great Torrington, I was attending regardless of who would be playing. In the end it was Yeovil Town and Grimsby Town in their Group B decider after both of them had dispatched Belgian side RRFC Montegnée. (Yeovil won 5-0, Grimsby won 1-0). Whoever won this game would go through to the Semi-Finals (more on those later) and have a decent crack at the trophy. Yet, due to a downpour which was torrential, this game nearly never took place. The pitch on the morning of the game was flooded and would have instantly failed a ground inspection if this was a league game but the good drainage system at Vicarage Field and some sun (yes, really!), the pitch dried and drained off the surface water to make the game go ahead. Wahey!
Great Torrington is a small market town in North Devon, near the bigger places of Bideford and Barnstaple, whilst also a good distance away from the beach, it is a nice tourist place to stay if holidaying down here. Actually in the town is, err, not a lot. A major battle in the English Civil War took place here and is celebrated by the ‘Torrington 1646’ experience. Other attractions are Dartington Crystal, Rosemoor Gardens and the several roads to leave the town in search of more exciting things to do. The local team is Torrington FC who play at Vicarage Field, where this game was being held. The ground is railed all the way round, with just standing areas behind the goals, while a small stand runs down a section of one side of the pitch while the other has the clubhouse and a larger stand. Vicarage Field can apparently hold 2000 people. I doubt that, but it can hold a decent amount of people and the trees and houses nearby made it a more picturesque ground than at Appledore on Monday. Torrington FC play their football in the Premier Division of the North Devon League which is Level 12 of the football pyramid. Torrington dropped down to this level after attendances dropped whilst playing in the Western League. Considering it was unlikely I would watch that level of football it made a nice time to visit the ground and see a game here.
Once in the ground, me and my Dad who came with me tonight, had a look inside the clubhouse which was extremely nice and also featured a few Grimsby players having a drink (soft drink – no libel here) before the game. The pitch looked fine to play on, apart from one small corner where the water was drained to and the grass looked a little long so a passing game would have been more difficult tonight. Both teams lined up with mainly their 1st choice squad for this 80 minute match and kicked off in quite nice weather. No hint of any downpour that Devon had suffered over the past week. From the start it was clear the two contrasting styles of play that the teams would adopt. Yeovil would try and pass it through Grimsby despite the long grass holding the ball up, whereas Grimsby would play hoof ball down the wings in an attempt to bring their two fast wingers into play. Grimsby will be hoping for a better season this year after narrowly avoiding relegation to the Conference in 08/09, under Newell that looks unlikely to happen again but they won’t be pretty to watch.
Yeovil during the opening spells had the main possession but could not really do much with it, with striker Hamdi Razak not enjoying his best game, but getting a few pot shots away they were well saved by ex Hibs goalie (boooooooo!) Nick Colgan. Grimsby’s two wingers Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Adrian Forbes causing Yeovil’s full backs problems with their direct running. With a game of few chances early on and quite tight it would need something a bit unordinary to get a breakthrough and it was Grimsby who took the lead when Adrian Forbes went on a mazy run on the right wing and darted through the Yeovil defence before being brought down for a penalty. Up stepped Barry Conlon (the most immobile player I have ever seen) who cheekily chipped it down the middle to make it 1-0. Yeovil did have chances to equalise before half-time but Colgan was largely untroubled again.
The second half started with still no rain and looked to be as tight as the 1st half until Grimsby played a ball over the top which sub Danny North ran onto well offside and slotted the ball away. Yeovil expected, as did every fan in line with the player, an offside flag, it never came and so it was 2-0. Even a Grimsby fan stood next to us said “I’m bias and that was offside”. This seemed to wake Yeovil up a little who went a bit more direct in an attempt to get the game back. Yeovil got back into the game eventually as they pushed Grimsby further back and started playing more direct. This paid off on 62 minutes when a straight direct ball caught the Grimsby defence out and Sam Williams controlled and chested the ball to Gavin Tomlin who smashed past Nick Colgan to make it 2-1. Grimsby had chances to put the game beyond Yeovil, with Danny North scoring twice and getting caught offside twice – both deserved and he got booked for kicking the ball away after one of these chances too. The prat. Yeovil did grab their deserved equalizer when a great Gary Roberts cross was put in from the right and Sam Williams headed home at the back post to force penalties it seemed. However a late twist in the tale saw Grimsby trialist Nathan Arnold cut in and take a fairly tame shot towards the Yeovil goal. However, the ball hit a divot and bounced over goalie Richard Martin into the net. Grimsby had stolen a late winner and went marching on into the Semi-Finals.
A decent day out in Torrington then and another entertaining game in this competition. It was lucky that this game even made it through the weather as two out of the four games to be played on the Friday fell to the rain with the games in Bideford and Appledore cancelled. Yeovil won’t be too fussed at going out after this performance, their manager Terry Skiverton saying he would not have fancied playing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a home friendly against Derby County coming up.
Friday 17th SW Challenge Cup Results:
Yeovil Town 2-3 Grimsby Town
Rushden and Diamonds 3-1 Barnstaple Town
Exeter City P-P Eastleigh
Luton Town P-P Wycombe Wanderers
Those results mean that Grimsby and Rushden qualified for the Semis with Exeter and Luton going through on goal difference as their games were called off. I’ll detail what happened in the Semi-Final and Final on Monday/Tuesday. My next game is a trip to the South Coast to watch the mighty Hearts play down here.
- Match: 6.5/10 (decent entertainment for a PSF)
- Value for money: 5/10 (£5 for all 4 games isn’t bad, even though if you went to this, you would struggle to make another)
- Ground: 6/10 (for its level, its very nice – good clubhouse too)
- Atmosphere: 5/10 (Grimsby fans got a bit lively towards the end)
- Food: 6/10 (decent burger at £1.50 and a drink from the bar)
- Programme: 9/10 (the tournament programme is only £1 and is well detailed and good looking too)
- Referee: Ron Ganfield – 4/10 (saw the offside? Surely!?)