LISKEARD Athletic’s Lux Park ground has always had a reputation in South Western football circles for offering the best pasties going and it is one constant which has been maintained in the 20-odd years which have gone since they came down from the Western League to play more locally.
They are still lovingly served in the refreshment room, built in 1979 and resplendent in dozens of old team pictures and awards, by Maureen Williams, wife of chairman Roger Williams and mum to Lianne, who is secretary and who makes up the family affair which sums up the club nicely.
Those visiting for the first time in many moons will see a ground which has been kept neat and tidy and rebuilt more than once after catastrophic damage caused by wartime neglect and storms, but still with some old faces which shows that time goes on but some things never change.
Having been reformed after the 1939-45 War the club moved into Lux Park to share with Moorswater FC and have been there ever since, moving through the gears to win the Western League title in 1988, sandwiched between two near misses in ’86 and ’90.
Before then their football was played in the Plymouth and District and East Cornwall Leagues, while nowadays they ply their trade in the Carlsberg South West Peninsula Division One (West), lying handily in second place behind runaway leaders Ludgvan, but also with a Cornwall Charity Cup semi-final to look forward to.
Chairman Roger is enjoying the current season under managers Richard Woods and Martin Hodge and said: “The whole team here is made up of players who went to school in Liskeard and Callington and the managers like to play football the proper way, which attracts others.”
Although the path back to the Western League and trips to the likes of Westbury United and Bradford Town is a long one, there is still ambition and the heady days of huge crowds for the no nonsense derbies with Saltash United are still talked about.
“We have applied for promotion back to the Premier Division of the Peninsula League, should we finish well enough” added Roger, “although we don’t have bags of money and travelling and extra match officials will be a burden. It is frightening to see the mileage some clubs do in the Western and Southern Leagues but we will take things one step at a time and enjoy our football.”
The Lux Park complex has existed in various forms since before the 1914-18 War and the late Ted Brown’s ‘100 Years of Football in Liskeard’ documents the changes there from the early days when the adjacent cricket ground was used for football and was given a wooden stand with changing rooms, which stood until the 1970s.
The football part is surrounded now by the cricket ground and Liskeard and Looe RFC HQ with the school sports grounds on the other side, the whole dwarfed by the Leisure Centre which dominates one end and has a neat entrance through the middle with the clubhouse above.
It all adds up to a lively part of the Cornish town where football has always been an important part of life and their passing game is currently aided by a superb playing surface which is lovingly attended by Roger and Bert Bulmer, a life vice-president, and which has stood up to the ravages of the last couple of months.
Indeed, when the Charity Cup quarter-final at Wendron was washed out with that club’s ground under water, the tie was switched and it became one of only a handful of games played in Cornwall despite the incessant rain.
It included teenager James Lorenz, who is well up in the race for the ‘Golden Boot’ in Division One, and the nephew of Martin Hodge added two more to his growing tally in a 4-0 win.
Hodge is an ex-Blue from the Western League days while Woods played for rivals Saltash United and their squad also includes ex-Callington lad Andre Rodukov and experienced former Bodmin defender Jack Podmore.
Off the field Woods echoed the sentiments of every clubman around the country when he said that “getting volunteers to the club is getting harder” although, as well as the Dobwalls-based Williams family, president Dick Collins does much of the communications and PR work while John Creber, Martin Gilbert and a committee including Dave Ewing, Peter Gibb, Terry Pennington, Rachel Lorenz, and Barry Cleveland all help to run the club which has a second string in the East Cornwall Premier League and a third in the Duchy League Division Four.
The Blues threw a spanner in the works of leaders Ludgvan last Saturday with a stunning 3-0 away win, only that club’s second defeat of the season in the League, which brought them to within five points of each other. And with the second meeting due at the end of the season on April 28 at Lux Park, there is the potential for a decider in front of a big crowd.
With the work which goes on behind the scenes at Lux Park every season Liskeard Athletic FC certainly deserve every success coming their way as they chase a League and Cup double.
By KERRY MILLER
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