Steady As She Goes

Mawnan v St Buryan, Trelawny League Premier Division

 

For Leon Prynn, Mawnan FC committee member and vice president, the idea that a club has an established identity and a sense of what it stands for is important. And at Mawnan that understanding of the character of the club is deep-rooted. Leon himself played for the club in the 1970s and went on to be club secretary for 30 years. The club has had only two treasurers since 1963, the chairman’s been here over 20 years and the club president’s been involved with Mawnan since 1957. A rare consistency and stability has enabled Mawnan to maintain a sense of history and a distinctive club culture

 

“Some people say you can be too long in a job,” says Leon, “but we find that we know how this club operates, we know what’s required to make it tick and to keep it going. We have periods where we’re not doing so well. But that’s the key to being a good club. You’ve got to see those periods through before you can go on to be successful again. It pays dividends in the long run”.

The reward for this steadiness is a loyal set of players, and Mawnan don’t seem to have suffered the player recruitment problems that so many other clubs are experiencing.

 

“We tend to get a lot of young players coming through the club”, says Leon, “because most of them want to graduate to Falmouth Town or Penryn Athletic. We get them when they’re young and when they move on they go to senior football, and we’re quite happy with that. But when they’ve finished playing senior football they want to come back here again. They don’t go to other clubs. We’ve always been a players’ club. We’ve always been resigned to the fact that whatever players we have here we’re happy with them, whether they’re great or run-of-the-mill. We see it as a place to provide football”. And among those for whom Mawnan has provided football are ex-Premier League players Kevin Miller and Matthew Etherington, who both started off playing for the village youth team. That’s quite a feat for a Cornish junior club.

 

One of the more notable events in the club’s history was a 1939 match against a team from the German battleship ‘Schleswig-Holstein’. The ship was paying a ‘courtesy’ visit to Falmouth, which was essentially an elaborate spying mission. After the match the Mawnan players were presented with medallions by the ship’s captain. History doesn’t record the result of the game, but something must have riled the Germans because a few months later the crew of the ‘Schleswig-Holstein’ went on to fire the opening salvoes of World War Two at Gdansk.

Founded in 1936, the club first competed in the Falmouth and District League. They joined the new Falmouth-Helston League in 1960, and they and local rivals Constantine went on to be the only ever present clubs throughout the league’s history. In 1971 and 1972 they won the league and cup double in successive seasons, but it’s arguably the past 20 years that have been the club’s most successful. They were Junior Cup winners in 2000 and 2007, and have consistently finished in the upper reaches of Trelawny Premier League, culminating in three cup wins last season.

For Mawnan, though, senior football is currently not an option. Even if they won the league they couldn’t take promotion to the Combination because they share the ground with the village cricket team and wouldn’t be able to install the dugouts required to comply with ground regulations.

In a table skewed by unplayed fixtures in a horrible wet winter, Mawnan are top, but four teams are realistically in with a shout of the title. The postponements and backlog of games have created a bit of disillusionment among some players. “We’ve played twice since early December, and could end up playing half a season’s games in one month. Then when the evening games come people aren’t available. You’re playing weakened sides against senior clubs who are going to fill their sides with stronger players. But those are the rules and you have to accept them”.

 

Today’s game, at least, should be a bit more straightforward. It’s top versus bottom and visitors St Buryan are on a six game losing streak.

From the start it’s almost total Mawnan possession and pressure. The ref is penalising some rustic St Buryan tackling and Mawnan are awarded a penalty for a clear foul after 15 minutes. 1-0. The home midfield are completely in control, but despite their dominance Mawnan’s crosses aren’t finding their targets and their finishing is wasteful. They could easily be three or four up when on 40 minutes a St Buryan cross from the right wing is met by an unchallenged header and the away side are somehow back in the game at 1-1. Mawnan suddenly look rattled and begin to lose a bit of defensive composure, while St Buryan find new confidence and attacking ambition. They go in level.

 

The second half sees the home side again on top, but with their opponents showing more of a threat on the break, and it’s St Buryan who squander the clearest chance of the game so far when they manage to miss an open goal. Some dubious decisions by the ‘away’ linesman aren’t helping Mawnan’s cause, and as the half progresses they’re becoming increasingly frustrated by his perceived partisanship. Still the Mawnan attacks continue, and after they have what seems to be a fair claim for a penalty turned down those attacks become ever more desperate. But it’s not to be, and St Buryan hold on for a hard-earned point. It’s a funny old game, Saint.

 

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