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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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BuiltWithNOF

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

St. Blazey FC

St. Blaise Park
Station Road
St. Blazey
Cornwall
PL24 2ND

Telephone: 01726 814110

Website

Nickname: The Saints

Main gate

The new stand

Near goal and clubhouse

Far touchline

Two views: looking towards the stand and far goal

The old stand, with Royal Box in the centre

St. Blazey AFC, formed in 1896, were founder members of the South Western Football League in 1951, where they have played ever since, winning the title on no less than eleven occasions.

In recent years the Saints have been pre-eminent and their championship success in 2003/04 was their fourth in the succession. It might have been their sixth but for missing out on goal difference in 1999/00 to Falmouth Town. In 2002/03 St. Blazey reached the 5th round of the FA Vase, drawing 1-1 with AFC Sudbury at Blaise Park, but losing the replay 7-1.

St. Blaise Park was built on reclaimed land from a disused estuary, and first saw football action in 1906. It was used up until the outbreak of the Great War whereupon its ancestory was put to good use: the pitch being dug up and the underlying sand used to fill sandbags. After the war the club moved back in, and in 1931 constructed what until recently was the groundís crowning glory: a wooden stand with bench seating, painted in the club colours. An unusual addition came in 1957, when a Royal Box was incorporated to mark the visit of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh for a charity match between Cornwall and the Combined Services.

Sadly, the stand was demolished early in the new millennium and has been replaced by a replacement sponsored by the nearby Eden Project. Named the Eden Stand, it seems rather ironic that a stand sponsored by an organisation that has done so much to promote recycling and usage of natural products, is constructed from metal cladding and not timber. Rather a shame I think - but undeniably practical! Given the overall height of the structure, the 200 seats are set rather low and do not provide much in the way of an elevated view.

Despite my own rather reactionary views about old stands, it cannot be denied that St. Blaise Park is a very well-maintained and attractive ground, and greatly enhanced by the view behind the far goal (see photograph on the left).

In common with so many Cornish grounds, there is the ubiquitous grass banking, running the length of the far touchline, with the railway line immediately behind periodically interrupting the otherwise sylvan setting. The banking was evidently well-used back in 1949 when a Cornwall Senior Cup against neighbours St. Austell attracted a crowd of over 6,500.

The only other cover at the ground is provided by a simple breezeblock and timber lean-to behind the near goal. Behind this is the large clubhouse, that opens out onto the carpark immediately outside the ground. The orginal buidling went up in 1972, but has been greatly extended over the years.

Blaise Park saw the first floodlights in Cornwall erected in the late 1950s, erected by voluntary labour and paid for through a scheme of £1 shares. These gradually fell out of service, and in November 1989 a new set of lights were inaugurated with a friendly match against Plymouth Argyle.

With the attractive harbour village of Fowey close by; and the twin attractions of The Lost Gardens of Heligan and Eden Project within easy reach, any visitor to the area who also happens to be a grounds enthusiast would be well-advised to pay St. Blaise Park a visit.

Ground details
Capacity: 3,500
Seats: 200
Floodlights: Yes

Directions
From St, Austell take the A390 to St. Blazey and turn into Station Road by the War Memorial. The ground is immediately on the left.

By rail
Par (BR) one and a half miles.