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Guest thebigfella

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Guest thebigfella

The St Austell thread has gone slightly off topic and began a debate about clubs transferring from the P&WDL to the ECPL and the effect this might have on the Plymouth league. I know this is a Cornish Football Forum but, as it looks likey that the ECPL will be accepting more clubs from across the Tamar, I felt it was relevant. As a former player in the P&WDL, as well as the ECPL and SWL, I have severe concerns for football in Plymouth.

Tamarside and Tavistock set a precedent by entering the ECPL last season, although Tamarside did leave their 'second team' in the P&WDL Premier.

Facilities in Plymouth are nothing short of shocking and the local council in my opinion have an awful lot to answer for. They have contributed hugely to the downfall of this once excellent league. The standard of pitches is a disgrace to the game, while changing rooms, in most cases, are nothing short of inhumane.

The saving grace for the league has always been the clubs with their own facilities... Vospers OV Res, Elburton Villa Res, Plymstock Res, Plymouth Parkway Res and, until recently, Plymouth Civil Service.

Civil have now lost their ground, while the previously mentioned clubs have all applied to join the ECPL... but, I don't blame them for that. The standard of football and the standard of grounds far exceeds that in the P&WDL. It all makes for a much nicer Saturday afternoon experience for players, officials and spectators alike.

Who the hell wants to play at Victoria Park every other week? Stinking filthy changing rooms, cold dirty mouldy showers, cobwebs, rats, dog poo everywhere... No thanks!!

There was some talk a season or so ago, when Tamarside and Tavistock joined the ECPL, the the P&WDL would undertake a restructure and set criteria for there Premier Division, similar to that of the ECPL... about 5 years too late I'm afraid.

Other than the teams mentioned about, the remainder of the sides play on parks pitches and it would be almost impossible to implement those criteria. It would require teams to lease council grounds! When you consider that the majority of clubs are nothing more than pub teams, with one sponsor, 2 'committee members' and no base... it's just not going to happen is it?

The way forward for me would be an amalgamation of the ECPL and the P&WDL. Whether the ECPL would wear that of course is another matter... why should they? My vision for the PLYMOUTH & EAST CORNWALL COMBINATION LEAGUE would be...

Premier Division (18 teams)

Division One (16 teams)

Division Two East (16 teams)

Division Two West (16 teams)

3 teams Promoted to Division One. 1 from Division One East, 1 from Division One West, 1 from Duchy Premier... in the case of clubs failing to meet criteria, second place clubs consulted.

3 teams relegated from Premier and Division One into 'feeder' leagues and restructured if necessary... similar to SWPL.

I'm sure I'm opening up a whole can of worms here and someone will shoot huge holes through my plan but what the hell... Any thoughts guys and gals?

PS... just realised I should really have posted this on the Combo/ECPL page!! Maybe Dave could move it!!

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I agree with your sentiments entirely thebigfella. Apart from one thing - the amalgamation of the ECPL and the P&WDL

I too graced the then P&D League and the Plymouth Combination League as well as the ECPL (I think I started playing in its second season for Launceston, the memory is not good).

The P&D League was huge and included such clubs as Bideford, Dartmouth and Brixham. The Plymouth Combination League was also a massive one which also included a Tavistock section. Unfortunately time moves on.

Plymouth has been unfortunate through the local authority having sold off many quality pitches to housing and industrial units. I am not sure but Staddiscombe has now got something like a dozen pitches or so, so we cant really say the local council are not providing pitches, they just happen to be park pitches.

Over recent years the ECPL and the Duchy League grew as did the South Devon League as more and more Plymouth & District league clubs moved on. In years gone by when Plymouth Argyle were home, teams used to play at Victoria Park and Central Park in front of thousands of fans stopping off to have a look before heading for Home Park and you couldn't even see the touch lines. In those days football of a high standard was played on those ‘park’ pitches. But this has changed dramatically and many Plymouth teams have joined other leagues which has helped their growth. But even then I cannot ever recall changing in facilities that by the large were nothing short of grim.

You are also right in saying the facilities are now of a very low standard but when I played football in the then Plymouth Youth Committee League we often changed behind trees and hedges. This included many players who went on to become professional footballers. Of course this is unacceptable nowadays and yes the changing rooms are appalling but how many of you changed in that hole at Weston Mill until recently.

Youth football has grown dramatically over the years. The PYC League had just 16 teams and was for under 16 players. The Devon Junior & Minor league had an under 23 and an under 18 section. In those days we all played for our school team in the mornings and the school leagues were also huge. We now have something like 3-4,000 youngsters playing in the Devon Junior & Minor League from something like 8 years and upwards.

Even now other leagues are beginning to grow around Plymouth. There are about 125 teams in the East Cornwall Youth League with about 1,500 players. You didn’t see this amount of underbelly football being played 40/50 years ago.

As a Plymouth lad I mourn the loss of some terrific grounds I used to play on but time goes on. Leagues in the Pyramid have certain standards to abide by and yes it saddens me that Plymouth has only a few quality grounds left. But to try and amalgamate the P&WDL with the ECPL is unfortunately an absolute non starter, simply because there are just not the pitches and facilities around. Quite frankly I have no idea how such a proud league with terrific traditions in Plymouth can be in any way shape or form be classed as a feeder league to the Peninsula League

I think the ECPL are better off as they are. Although I would suggest that serious consideration must be given to changing the ECPL league to something like the East Cornwall and West Devon League. After all this is where their clubs are from. Morwenstow in the North to Torpoint in the South of Cornwall and Holsworthy to the North and Plymouth to the South of Devon

I’m afraid we also look through rose tinted glasses as well when we try to compare standards of yesteryear to today.

A good posting thebigfella but amalgamating what is in effect a parks league with a league with the right facilities is a real non starter. Some of you will come on and complain about there being some poor grounds in the ECPL but these are few and far between. In any case I cannot see the CCFA or the DCFA even considering such an amalgamation unless you know something I don’t.

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