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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks

Porthleven FC

Gala Parc
Mill Lane
Porthleven
Cornwall
TR13 9LQ

Telephone: 01326 574754

Website: None

Nickname: The Fishermen

Main gate

Stand

Behind far goal

Banking & benches on far touchline

Corner at Mill Lane End

Clubhouse at Mill Lane End

Porthleven finally took up residence at Gala Parc in May 1957, after a rather protracted move. The need for a ground in Mill Lane had been identifed by the Gala Committee as early as in 1946 but it was to be eleven years before it finally came to fruition. In the meantime, Porthleven spent several years at Treza Downs after WW2, before moving to Sunset Farm. The club did in fact move to Gala Parc in 1956, but the ground was not ready and they were forced to play on a pitch in Preachers Lane for a short while. The ground was officially opened in 1958 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

Despite the development of new stands at clubs such as St. Blazey and Wadebridge Town for example, grounds within the Duchy generally have a relatively untouched feel about them. Although some, such as Falmouth Town and Liskeard Athletic, have tried to move up the pyramid, the prohibitive costs of the additional travelling involved have curtailed this after a period of time. As a consequence, many clubs in the SW Western League exist in a cosy microcosm of their own, relatively untouched by grading restrictions.

Gala Parc is in many ways, the quintessential Cornish ground: in an attractive setting and with its facilities proportional to the demands of SW League football. In common with many grounds in the League, there is plenty of grass banking - a feature that appears to be slowly dying out elsewhere in the country as restrictions take their toll. As Paul Claydon and Vince Taylor rightly note in their guide to grounds of the SW League: ‘Gala Parc is another fine example of what grounds at this level are all about’

The first structure to arrive at Gala Parc was the pavilion that stands behind the goal at the Mill Lane End. This dates from 1964 and also houses the dressing rooms. A sizable overhang provides shelter for spectators who prefer to stay dry and be as close to the bar as possible. There is also a decent sized car park behind, with the main social club outside the ground on the opposite side of the road.

A functional stand with a cladded roof was added along one touchline in 1970, with dugouts on either side. However, it was 23 years before any seats were added, with about fifty now in place.

The most delightful feature of the ground however, is the presence of a large grass bank that runs the length of the opposite touchline, with a number of park benches at its summit. What better place to watch the action on a fine day ... although how many of these are there in Cornwall during the football season? Another notable feature is the way that the concrete post and rail perimeter curves around the playing area, rather than blindly follow its rectangular outline.

Porthleven were founder members of the Cornwall Combination in 1959 and have alternated between this and the SW Western League since then. In 1988/89 the club won the Combination and returned to the SWL where they have remained and since 1996/97 have not finished outside of the top three.

The club reached the Quarter Finals of the FA Vase in 1997/98 before ,losing to Taunton Town in 1997/98, and more recently got as far as the fifth round in 2001/02 losing at Burgess Hill Town after a long trip to Sussex.

Ground details
Capacity: 1,500
Seats: 50
Floodlights: Yes

Directions
From the A394 Penzance to Helston Road, turn onto the B3304 and Mill Lane is a turning on the left shortly before entering the town.

By rail
Penzance (BR): bus or taxi ride.