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Good Sports

LET’S HEAR IT FOR ST AUSTELL AND THE VOICE: My cup runneth over at the weekend – in footballing terms at least – as my fancied teams all stepped up to the plate.

Lucky Louis’s Manchester United overcame Sunderland 2-0, even if ref Roger The Bodger East got the wrong man by sending off Wes Brown for a foul he didn’t commit on Falcao.

Championship under achievers Sheffield Wednesday, my favourite “real team” since finishing second to Spurs’ double-winning side in 1961, managed the same scoreline against high-flying Middlesbrough and GOT their man in charge of the whole shooting match to sign on the dotted line – in the shape of new Thai owner Dejphon Chansiri.

Even more rewarding was news that home team Nuneaton Borough (well Town now) managed a 1-0 win against Welling in the Conference Premier to register a third game without defeat (there’s been 22 of them this season unfortunately) as they battle, probably in vain, to climb out of the relegation zone.

I first went to Borough’s old Manor Park ground as a four-year-old and sat in seat C36 in the “sitting stand” next to the players’ tunnel with my football-mad grandfather and father. Their blue-and-white striped shirts even helped me select The Owls (Sheffield Wednesday) as a big club to follow as a youngster at junior school.

But the most satisfying of all the teleprinter results came from the rain-sodden home of the “proper job” – the land of Trelawny’s Army.

St Austell football 90 - CopyFor the mighty Cornish minnows of St Austell AFC (the town answers to Snozzle) became the lowest-ranked footballing side in Britain still in with a chance of playing at Wembley this season.

To put it in context the Lillywhites are on a par with that famous Jamaican bobsleigh team as they’ve managed to reach the last four of the greatest amateur football competition on the planet – where more than 500 clubs originally started out.

In the quarter finals of the FA Vase on Saturday, the part-timers from Poltair Park came back from a 2-1 interval deficit to record a thrilling 3-2 triumph over Ascot United.

And now they face a two-leg semi final clash on March 21 and 28 against the winners of a drawn quarter final between Glossop North End and Aquaforce Shaw Lane.

St Austell are the lowest-positioned team in the FA Vase semis – sitting proudly in the South West Peninsula League Premier Division (10th tier), a full five tiers BELOW the non-league citadel of the Conference Premier.

But in their eight games since entering the competition’s First Qualifying Round, they’ve managed to rattle in 26 goals against six including an 8-1 hammering of neighbours Porthleven as well as a “walkover” against Ilfracombe.

Why an affinity with St Austell, you may ask. I was the launch editor of the Celtic region’s first new weekly newspaper for three decades back on April 26, 2006.

TOWN VOICE: Launch issue back in Apruil 2006

TOWN VOICE: Launch issue back in Apruil 2006

And I warmed instantly to a proud town and people who’d seen its mining history heritage devastated but still continued to stand tall as a welcoming nation – yes, nation.

The St Austell Voice also had that ‘David & Goliath’ feel to it when it first hit the streets from an office at 16 Truro Road . . . up against a 99-year-old ‘bible’ in the shape of the Cornish Guardian.

We managed to establish a 6,000 sales bridgehead (at 40p) against the Guardian’s 39,000 copies sold (at 85p). By the end of the first year the Guardian was down to 35,000 and the July-December 2013 Audit Bureau of Circulation figures put that figure at nearer 21,000.

The initial editorial staffing of Andrew Laming’s Voice may have moved on but two die-hards who have been around since the early days are sports editor Gareth Rowett (Garfy to his Birds of a Feather friends) and staff photographer Paul Williams.

garthGarfy’s sporting knowledge is encyclopedic (his father Glyn steeped in football as a manager and owner) while Paul’s photojournalistic skills make for truly impacting images.

As the paper’s first editor I’m pleased to have worked alongside these St Austell legends – thrilled that they have something monumental, and magical, on which to inform and entertain the readers.

For that reason I’ve chosen this blog as my first in a new series of ‘Good Sports’ . . . applicable to both the footballing heroes of St Austell, its local newspaper and the Voice’s sporting double act of Rowett and Williams.

As W-E-M-B-L-E-Y awaits, what’s black and (Lilly)white and read all over?

The answer’s simple . . . the sporting greats of the St Austell Voice. Don’t forget to pick up a copy tomorrow (still only 55p).

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