Writing in 1995 Kerry Miller expressed grave concerns that Bodieve Park might be ‘doomed’. With the then-seventy year old wooden grandstand condemned as unsafe, and rumours that the ground was about to be sold to make way for a supermarket, the future did indeed look bleak. Thankfully, Kerry’s fears were confounded, and this wonderful ‘switch-back’ ground with its sloping pitch is still not only in service, but appears to have a future.
Sadly, the wonderful wooden stand did not survive. This had stood since the ground was opened and during WW2 had been used as a barn whilst the ground was commandered as a corn field. Tragically, its innards were ripped out and burned on Bonfire Night 1994. Although the structure managed to hang on for a little while longer, it too followed suit, leaving a vacant spot along the near touchline.
Thankfully, a great deal of hard work behind the scenes at the club has born fruit in the shape of a splendid replacement. The total cost of developments - which will ultimately include additional floodlighting and pitch improvements - is a whopping £300,000, with the Football Foundation contributing £268,000 of that amount; the biggest sum ever given to a club in the South West.
Perhaps it’s just my imagination but all too often it appears the Football Foundation money, welcome though it is, has been used to fund provision of bland ‘indentikit’ stands. Not on this occasion. Sussex Non League fans familiar with the unfinished white elephant that looms large over Newhaven’s Fort Road ground, will no doubt look at the photographs on this page and imagine what might have been.
The stylish building, as well as providing just over 100 seats at its upper level (reached via a staircase at up one side); also contains changing rooms, ground staff facilities and a players’ tunnel. Two large dugouts with ample seating are also provided. At the time of my visit a fascia for the front of the sloping roof was absent, but one imagines something emblazoned with the club name will soon be forthcoming.
The provision of new changing rooms may ultimately spell the end for the Nissen Hut that has served that purpose up until now, although hopefully the club will find an alternative use for it. Situated just inside the main gate, this originally stood at RAF St. Eval, and was purchased and converted in 1951 by the Supporters’ Club. The ground itself was finally purchased by the club two years earlier for the princely sum of £900. Just beyond the Nissen Hut is the clubhouse. Built in 1979 this was the most significant development at the ground until the new stand was opened.
Further cover is provided behind the near goal by a fragile looking lean-to supported by angled metal poles against the wall behind. Its age is unknown but the structure has been blown down and re-erected on more than one occasion.
No Cornish ground worth its salt would be without a grass bank and Bodieve Park is no exception. A good view can be obtained from along the far touchline and behind the goal at the top end of the ground.
Wadebridge have enjoyed an uninterrupted tenure in the South Western League since joining in 1952. Although runners-up on three occasions - most recently in 1979/80 - they have never won it. Perhaps these new developments will herald the beginning of a renaissance for the club.
Approach the town on either the A39 or A389. At the roundabout of the junction of these two roads, turn towards the town and council offices. At roundabout turn immediately right and the ground is immediately on the left.