February 23, 2018 at 4:33 pm #14455
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As this is the leagues 10th season of providing us with great football I have written the following piece.
Please feel free to share this or even include it in a match day programme, all I ask for in return is simply a copy of the programme so I can keep records of my work in print.
If anyone wants a copy of this piece in a word document for publishing just drop me an email ([email protected]) and i’ll send you the original document.
Change is something that a lot of people dislike but football is all about change. Ten years ago Ryan Giggs was captain of a title winning side with Manchester United and not many people outside of the Greater Manchester area had heard of a small non-league side called Salford City, now ten years later they are the main topic of conversation between most fans as they challenge for promotion to the top flight of the non-league pyramid.
Ten years ago also saw the South West Peninsula League in their inaugural season on the non-league pyramid, since then a lot has changed. Teams have come and gone, grounds have been demolished and new grounds built, floodlights installed over the counties, cup competitions coming and going and so on.
The Kimberley Stadium at Saltash hosted the first ever SWPL competitive match in the summer of 2007 as Devon League champions Dartmouth beat South Western League champions St Blazey to kick start the season and the new league structure. A thrilling first season saw Bodmin Town winning the league and cup double whilst Budleigh Salterton and Wadebridge Town won the East and West divisions.
The second season saw a lot of change from the inaugural season as Goonhavern Athletic were the first team to pull out of the league. However the total number of teams still increased as Wadebridge Town and Newton Abbot AFC got promoted to the Premier Division increasing the league to twenty teams. Plymstock United transferred from Division One East to the West Division and the league saw five new clubs join with Exeter Civil Service, Bovey Tracey and Royal Marines entering the East and Godolphin Atlantic and Truro City Reserves entering the West.
Homers Heath was where the second season would begin as Buckland Athletic hosted the Charity Vase and Bowl for the first ever time. Saltash, who were invited after finishing second due to Bodmin securing the double, managed to beat their Cornish rivals whilst Wadebridge beat Budleigh Salterton to win the first ever Charity Vase. However not every club would finish the season this time round as Newton Abbot AFC folded mid-season followed by the resignation of Buckfastleigh Rangers. Bodmin secured a second league and cup double as Exeter Civil Service won the East Division in their first season with Penzance winning Division One West. Penzance and Bovey Tracey were promoted to the Premier Division whilst Newton Abbot Spurs were relegated to the East.
The 2009-2010 season saw another two clubs pull out as Clyst Rovers and Wendron United resigned, the beginning of the season also saw two new clubs join as Perranporth entered the West Division and Bickleigh entered the East. Launceston hosted the charity day this time round and it was Plymouth Parkway and Penzance who lifted the silverware to kick start the season. Newcomers Perranporth had a superb start to life in the Peninsula League as they won the Division One West title at their first attempt whilst Royal Marines swooped to the Division One East title. Another league and cup double was won in the Premier Division but this time it was Buckland Athletic as they brushed Bodmin aside to lift the trophies for the first time. As the season ended Holsworthy were relegated to the West with St Austell and Royal Marines promoted to the Premier, Okehampton Argyle were transferred from East to West and Millbrook pulled out of the league.
The next three seasons saw a lot happen with Camelford, Newquay and Godolphin Atlantic all winning Division One West and accepting promotion and Liverton United winning Division One East twice and Exmouth once with both clubs accepting promotion. In the Premier League Buckland won the title again before Bodmin came back to win it twice in a row with Plymouth Parkway winning the league cup before Bodmin won it twice more to win another two doubles. Buckland Athletic became the first and to this day still the only team to take Promotion into the Western League with Liverton United, Wadebridge Town and Penzance all being relegated from the Premier.
Several clubs also pulled out as the league lost Bickleigh, Royal Marines, Ottery St Mary, Dartmouth and Hayle but gained Sidmouth Town, Helston Athletic, St Dennis and Sticker.
The end of the 2012-2013 season was also an end of an era for Axminster Town who packed up and left their Sector Lane ground after selling the ground for a new housing complex. The club would then go the next season without a home ground until their new state of the art facilities at Tiger Way opened during the 2014-2015 season.
The 2013-2014 campaign saw a lot of change as it went through the season beginning with Exeter Civil Service changing the name of the club to Exwick Villa prior to the kick off. Bude Town joined Division One West and Elmore were also a new club as the Western League outfit made a sideways move into the Premier Division from the Western League Division One. Plymouth Parkway won the Premier Division with Stoke Gabriel and Callington Town winning the East and West respectively and both accepting promotion. The end of the Season also saw Tavistock and Liskeard relegated to the East and West.
As the 2014-2015 season developed no one expected to see so many teams drop out as Truro City Reserves and Foxhole Stars pulled out before a ball had even been kicked followed by Elmore mid-season and Perranporth at the end of the season. However this season also saw several new teams enter the frame as Division One East welcomed Brixham and St Martins whilst the West welcome Millbrook and Illogan RBL. Tavistock won promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking whilst Helston won promotion from Division One West. Bovey Tracey were relegated back down into Division One East whilst St Austell won their first Premier Division title and Godolphin won their first league cup.
Tiverton Town Reserves and Plymouth Argyle Reserves both joined the league for the 15-16 season and both won promotion to the Premier Division at the first time of asking. Bodmin Town won another league and cup double whilst Elburton Villa and Stoke Gabriel were relegated from the Premier Division. This season also saw the first relegation from Division One East as Okehampton Argyle dropped down into the Devon and Exeter League.
The 2016-2017 season welcomed Torridgeside and Plymouth Marjons into Division One East and West as the league entered into its ninth season. Sticker won Division One West and promotion to the Premier League whilst Stoke Gabriel won Division One East and regained promotion to the Premier Division at the first time of asking. Tavistock won the Premier Division with St Austell winning the league cup and St Blazey being relegated to Division One West. Exwick Villa and Vospers Oak Villa were relegated from the East and West whilst Tiverton Town Reserves resigned and folded.
Totnes & Dartington and Penryn Athletic resigned from the league before the tenth season began meaning that only twenty sides hadn’t moved leagues at all in the ten years of the league’s existence, that’s a lot of change. Porthleven, Mousehole and Dobwalls are the only three sides that have competed in the Division One West for ten years, they’ve seen a lot of clubs come and go. In the last ten years the Peninsula League introduced an Under 21 tournament that came and went, several teams have had floodlights installed (including Callington Town, Helston Athletic, Sticker, Sidmouth Town ) new clubhouses have been built at Stoke Gabriel, Callington and Camelford along with others and the Peninsula League has shaped into the great league it currently is. Roll on the next ten years!
February 23, 2018 at 6:43 pm #14457
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Excellent work Tom !
February 24, 2018 at 8:13 am #14458
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Thats very good Tom
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