Workers’ Playtime

Holman SC v St Ives Town, Cornwall Combination League

There can be few towns and companies more inextricably linked historically than Holman Brothers Ltd and Camborne. At its peak the mining equipment manufacturer employed over 3000 people in the town, and a Holmans apprenticeship was a standard route into a skilled trade for generations. With its choir, sports and social clubs the company fostered a camaraderie among its workers, and for many Holmans was Camborne.

The company has now gone the way of most British industry, its last Camborne operation closing fifteen years ago, but its sports clubs live on as a link to the town’s heritage.

Founded in 1948, the football club moved to its current home at Blaythorne in 1964. In 1967 the apprentice team reformed as Holman Sports Club and joined the Mining League. Most of the club’s first 60 years, bar a five season spell in the Combination League in the 1980s, were spent in junior football. They won their first trophy, the Mining Leage Dunn Cup, in 1996, before a switch to the Falmouth-Helston League led to the club’s most successful period, winning the league title and cup three times in the early 2000s.

Holmans returned to the Combination League and senior football in 2004. Relegation in 2013 led to two seasons in the Trelawny League before they were again promoted to the Combination three years ago. Yet this season has seen the club in something of a crisis. With a core of first team players lured away by the promise of payments elsewhere, one long-term follower of the club describes it as ‘in freefall’. With six points from eighteen games they’re bottom of the table, with today’s visitors, St Ives, nestled comfortably in the top half.

The first half is remarkable only for the snow that begins to whip across the pitch. In the bitter cold neither side is able to muster any cohesive attacking movement, and the one real chance of the half results in a good save from the Holmans keeper. Yet almost immediately after half-time, somehow Holmans start to find the simple passes and get a bit of flow to their game. In a ten-minute spell early in the half they find themselves three goals up. What was surely a speculative cross from the  right wing floats over a crowded penalty area and into the net, a second follows when some good work on the right wing leads to a cut back ball and a tap-in, and a third from a header from a corner. St Ives pull a goal back midway through the half and the game suddenly becomes end-to-end. Both sides continue to create chances to the end but it ends 3-1.

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