Threemilestone v Hayle, Trelawny League Division 1
As places to play football go, Boscawen Park in Truro is not too shabby. The pitches are reached via a walk passing through the park’s tidy flower beds and kids’ playground. To the east are tree-lined hills and to the west the tidal mudflats of the Truro River. The southern edge of the park, where the river widens before heading for The Fal, is sealed by the cricket ground and offers a view north to the city’s cathedral. All is gentility and order. Even the looming scrapheaps over the river in Newham only serve to add a bit of edge, to remind how elegant this little bubble of land is.
Yet for Threemilestone FC this place isn’t really home. The village itself lies on the edge of the Truro conurbation, three miles (naturally) west of the city, but it’s been six years since they actually played there. Club chairman/goalkeeper Ian Jay, who has been involved with Threemilestone for over 20 years, explains how they got here.
After finishing strongly in the old Mining League the club entered the new Trelawny League Premier Division in 2011 full of confidence. Continuing their form in the new league, they were strong contenders for promotion to the Combination League, and senior football. But their Polstain Road ground wasn’t up to Combination standard, with the pitch in a state and a toilet block passing for changing rooms. The team relocated to Boscawen, which, after the club had paid for dugouts to be installed, now met the requisite ground regulations, while the parish council relaid the old pitch. The plan was to get promotion and return home when the work had been done.
The team finished fourth and fifth in their first two Trelawny seasons then came second, a promotion place, in 2014. But Threemilestone, certainly not the first team in this league to do so, had made errors in the application process and promotion to senior football was denied.
After so long gearing up towards promotion then to be denied by paperwork there was understandably a sense of deflation around the club. Frustrated, the manager and virtually the entire first team squad left for local rivals Carharrack, who immediately went on win the league and promotion and are now, with the same core of players, pushing for South West Peninsula League football. For want of a nail, and all that.
After such a hammer blow there were fears that the club would fold, but the reserve squad, who had just finished in the lower reaches of Trelawny Division 3, stepped into the breach. It’s to their credit that they managed to hold their own in the Premier League for two seasons before finally being relegated last year, and Ian is clear how much he admires their spirit and loyalty. “Good on the boys. They stepped up to the Premier and got battered pretty much week in, week out. But they stuck with it. Stuck with the club.”
There’s a sense that relegation has allowed the club to regroup and take stock, to regain some stability after all the upheavals. The youth team has produced a batch of youngsters to boost the squad, and the club had hoped to enter them as a new reserve team in the league this season so some of them could get regular league football. But in an age when so many teams are folding due to unsustainability the league were unwilling to approve it. “Instead of a reserve team we’ve got a Sunday team” says Ian. “It’s been hard trying to keep some of the fringe players happy and we’ve lost some of them to teams where they’ll get a regular Saturday game. But it’s a chance to prove to the league that we can run two teams. If we had that reserve team we’d have been a lot stronger this year”.
The team are currently in the middle of a table skewed by unplayed fixtures due to a washout winter, but Ian still sees the chance for promotion. “We’re back. Back where we want to be and progressing forward”. Today’s game against league leaders Hayle reserves is a test of those ambitions. They lost the reverse fixture 2-0 a couple of weeks ago, although Ian felt Threemilestone should have come away with at least a point. “The problem this season is we haven’t killed games off. We’ve been dominating games but not taking our chances, but we’re climbing back up. Today’s a big game. If we lose today it could start to look out of reach”.
Threemilestone dominate the game from the start without creating any real chances until 20 minutes in, when a cross from the right wing results in a far post tap-in. 1-0. Hayle gradually work their way back into the match and start to threaten but the home side always look capable of breaking, and when Hayle do create chances they’re wasted. Before half-time an unmarked header from a free kick makes it 2-0. In the second half Hayle continue to spurn the few chances they have, and ten minutes in Threemilestone get a third, again after good work on the right wing. As the half progresses Threemilestone are stronger all over the pitch. With attackers outnumbering scattered Hayle defenders they walk the ball in for a fourth, and with the home wingers frequently getting behind the defence it’s soon 5-0. Hayle pull one back with five minutes to go, but it’s a well-deserved win for Threemilestone.
Thrashing the league leaders might be satisfying, but there’s still a longer-term sense of unfinished business for the club, and a win such as this would be all the sweeter in front of village supporters. “Here we just turn up, get changed, go and play and go home”, Ian says.
But plans are starting to take shape. Ian is in talks with a local councillor in the planning department to try to get back to the old pitch, which currently lies dormant and riddled with molehills, and he hopes they can do a deal with developers in the village to include the football ground as part of their plans. It might yet be a long haul, but it looks as though Threemilestone may be getting ready to come home.