Famous for pasties rather than its football, Cornwall has never seen one of its teams progress beyond step six of the English pyramid.
Truro City are looking to change this mildly annoying stat. The county’s most notable team have plans beyond where any Cornish team has gone before.
Nowadays it seems as if every club has plans to improve facilities, increase their fanbase significantly and ultimately sour up the leagues. Of course, saying this and delivering the goods are two different things altogether. There lies the problem. Not every non-league team can make it into England’s top four divisions.
Prior to the club’s financial difficulties of 2012, Truro had won promotion in five of the last six seasons – a feat that no British side had ever previously accomplished.
Relegation followed, but so did another promotion last season, taking City back to the Conference South. Truro are currently safely positioned in the play-offs going into the final set of fixtures and the chairman Peter Masters has recently announced the club will go full time should they win promotion to the Conference Premier next month. This is expected to double the wage budget.
Crowds at Truro are in the bottom third of clubs in the Conference North and South divisions. For the past two seasons their average home gate has been around 450.
As the sole football team in a county of 550,000 people – bigger than Manchester – it can be difficult to see why attendances are so low.
However, Cornwall is one of the least densely populated areas in the country and the city of Truro is home to a mere 19,000. The fairly even spread of Cornwall’s inhabitants across the county – its largest settlement is St Austell (35,000) – has held back Truro over the years. Not to mention that the county’s public transport network is somewhat lacking.
Planning permission on a new stadium for The Tinners has been granted although building work is yet to begin. Chairman Peter Masters said last month that work on their proposed 4,000 capacity stadium “in the balance”. This comes months after Masters warned the club could fold if work on the new home at Silver Bow does not start soon.
Despite these plans, they are far from the wealth of AFC Fylde who their North West equivalent. Fylde too have enjoyed several promotions in recent years, see regular attendance around the 400-500 mark, are located in a sparsely populated area, face competition from local established Football League teams and are two promotions away from League Two. The key difference between the two being, The Coasters of AFC Fylde have money – bags of it even.
Without either a large cash injection from an owner or crowds that allow for higher than average wages, it’s difficult to force your way up the leagues from nowhere, even if it is the slightly easier challenge of the Southern divisions. There comes a point where a glass ceiling is reached and long term ambitions are revised to even longer term ambitions, accompanied by hint of denial.
Fylde, formally known as Kirkham and Wesham [a village in the area of Fylde] are more open and specific about their own objective: Football League by 2022. ‘Stop us if you can,’ they say.
Truro will only succeed when Cornwall succeeds. (Isn’t that something along the lines of what Donald Trump says?). With that in mind, a Cornwall Football Club could be an option for the Conference South side to ponder – although that would possibly undermine Cornwall’s claim to being a part of Britain in its own right just as Scotland and Wales are.
Just as Kirkham and Wesham became AFC Fylde, broadening its horizons to the whole of the Fylde coast, Truro could do likewise and expect a much greater level of support from the wider Cornish community.
For the time being, however, the Cornish Pasty Association (based in Truro) need not fear about their precious pastry being ousted as the county’s number one source of glory.