Letting in the Past

Rosudgeon v St Erme, Trelawny League Division 3

Rosudgeon, a little village on the Penzance-Helston road probably most famous for its massive car boot sale, has a sports ground that is a testament to what a community can achieve with determination and hard work.

In 1948 the village began a fundraising drive to build a sports ground for cricket and football on Rosudgeon Downs. Volunteers stripped the ground of shrubs and gorse and the resulting bonfires burned for a week. Local farmers ploughed and levelled the ground and it took three weeks to clear the stones with buckets and wheelbarrows. In 1953, after the ground was finally seeded and the grass began to grow, without a gang mower the village had to borrow a flock of sheep to graze and keep it down.

After years of work the first cricket match at the ground took place in 1954.  Sadly Rosudgeon and Kenneggy football club never got to play at the new ground because at some point during the its construction they’d disbanded due to lack of players.

And Rosudgeon are an example of how a club’s history, even that of recent decades, can just slip away unless it’s written down.

It’s reckoned that the club was founded in the 1940s, playing in a farmer’s field off Packet Lane in the village.  There’s a team photo from 1950 on the clubhouse wall alongside a handsome framed red-and-green halved team shirt from that year. But beyond that the club’s story can only be mapped out through the dates of league registration documents.

Herland Rangers, who had originally played on a field five miles away at Herland Farm in Godolphin Cross, at some point became the first football team to play at the Rosudgeon ground. From 1960-72 Marazion used the ground as their home pitch and from 1972-78 Herland Rangers firsts were playing there in the West Penwith League, with Herland  seconds in the Amor Shield, but there’s no record of them after this.

In 1978 Rosudgeon FC (no longer Kenneggy) reformed and finally got to play at the ground in the West Penwith League. The League annals show various short-lived incarnations of the club emerging and disappearing during the eighties and nineties. By 1982 they’d reverted to being called Rosudgeon and Kenneggy, playing in the West Penwith until they entered the Mining League in 1985. Rosudgeon FC reappeared in the West Penwith in 1987 for a solitary season, and once again from 1994-97, after which they moved on to the Mining League.

The localised West Penwith League, which ran ran from 1925 until its demise in 2002, would have offered a fledgling, unestablished club the chance to settle in a tightly bounded competition, without huge travel commitments. But teams were gradually lured away to the wider geographically ranged Mining League, and by the end teams in the West Penwith were playing each other six times over the course of a season.

What is certain is that the Rosudgeon first team has been securely embedded in the Trelawny League first division since 2012. The reserves are in the third division with a good chance of promotion, and if they win their games in hand they’ll go top. Today’s game sees fourth host fifth in the league.

With the wind behind them in the first half Rosudgeon have most of the meaningful early possession without creating any clear chances. The home side are having the better of it, hitting bar and post, but St Erme threaten on the break. Despite Rosudgeon’s territorial dominance it’s the away side that somehow takes the lead via a goalmouth scramble from a corner. The equaliser finally comes when a free kick is headed on in the box to an unmarked forward who nods in from close range. The remainder of the half is unrelenting Rosudgeon pressure, but again St Erme break and, after more chaotic goalmouth pinball, get a disputed second. Rosudgeon must be stunned to find themselves 2-1 down at half time.

With the second half comes the rain. Again Rosudgeon press and again St Erme break, the forward getting clear of the defence to squeeze a shot beneath the keeper and make it 3-1. Midway through the half the rain starts to get heavier. The home side are now playing not just into the wind but into a bitterly cold drencher. It’s not fun anymore, and when St Erme get a fourth everyone knows there’ll be no turning this around. The fifth comes from a beautifully placed header from a long ball into the box, and a sixth from a shot from outside the area. By now it’s dark, cold and horrible out there. The home defence have ceased to be a functioning entity, and St Erme are playing balls through it for fun, taking potshots from all angles. Rosudgeon are grateful for the final whistle. Sometimes it’s just one of those days.

And before long both teams are showered and having a drink in the packed clubhouse, families at the tables and Final Score on the big screen, framed photos of teams from 70 years ago on the wall. This, as much as the 90 minutes of getting drenched, frozen and thrashed, is what the game’s really about at this level. It really is a community, and, in an age when so many focal points of community are being neglected or willfully dismantled, we should be glad of it.

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