Another Christmas period has rolled around, and I’m back in Cornwall, trying to survive my mother’s annual one-woman crusade to ensure I start next year carrying more fat than the average seal. Between forced sittings of stew and dumplings, I managed to find enough time to drag myself down to Truro to see the county’s premier football side in action.
The last (and only) time I watched the White Tigers was at Charlton back in November, when they became the first Cornish side to grace the FA Cup First Round since around the time of the Crimean War. Although Truro were beaten on the day, they played some great football, and players such as Tyler Harvey, Noah Keats and Aaron Lamont showed genuine quality against Football League opposition. Since that day, Truro have dropped down the league a little, though they are still 7th, just outside the playoffs. With the upper echelons of the Vanarama National League South so tight, (only three points separate Truro City in 7th and Dartford in 1st) a good run will see them right back in promotion contention.
Treyew Road has a 3,800 capacity and is in its last few years of not being a Lidl. The German version of Trago Mills have recently agreed a deal to build a flagship Truro store on the site when the White Tigers vacate, in order to move to the fabled Stadium for Cornwall. The purpose-built 16,000 seater stadium will be shared with the rugby team Cornish Pirates.
As for their current ground, it is certainly not without charm. The affable and helpful car parking attendants help you find a spot dreckly, whilst the pasty shop gives an air of Cornish authenticity. I had driven down to this with my father, and whilst I got press access, he handed over £10 for a concessions ticket, and a further £2.50 for a programme. Chuck in another £5.80 for a very welcome cheeseburger, chips and Pepsi Max (other brands are not available) and the whole day is under £20. Not too shabby.
One thing that was shabby, however, is the spot where “Steward Nine” is designated to stand. I don’t want to get carried away here, but I’m relatively certain that were “Steward Nine” to actually stand here, he’d quickly be murdered by Freddy Kruger.
I set my stool down by the goal for the first half, at which point, soundtracked by the Californian awfulness of Katy Perry, it sank three inches into the mud. With the fog settling in, I didn’t hold out much hope for the photography element of today. Hopefully the football would provide succour…
Spoiler Warning: it didn’t. This was a very different Truro City performance from the one I saw at The Valley. That side were intent on playing slick, passing football, getting it wide and whipping in crosses. Today’s iteration (and Gloucester City) clearly believed that there was some sort of airborne threat in the Truro area which could only be countered by repeatedly launching the ball as high into the sky as possible.
The only real moment of class came right on the stroke of halftime when Ben Harding shot just wide. After good work by Riley-Lowe (who will apparently be getting an Ollie Watkins poster for Christmas… and a restraining order for New Year) the ball was slipped in to Harding. He settled himself and drove the ball just past the upright.
As predicted, the breakthrough for Truro came from Palfrey. When he whipped a low cross from deep on the right it wasn’t properly cleared by Gloucester’s defenders, and the ball was worked to Ben Harding. It initially seemed that he’d missed the opportunity to shoot and was closed down, but with the ball on his left foot he whipped a sweet effort into the top corner to level the scores.
I usually award a Man of the Match in this blog, and whilst a few players (Tom Hadler, Billy Palfrey and Karnell Chambers) played notably well, the whole match was so difficult to watch I have no choice but to name every single one of the 523 supporters in attendance as MotM. With the football stodgier than the pea souper we were watching it through, fair play to the larger than average Christmas crowd. They have truly earned their festive treats now.