Cornwall's greatest ever side?
This Saturday marks the fiftieth anniversary of Falmouth Town’s first and most successful run in the FA Cup. To commemorate the occasion, Packet sports correspondents Keith Rashleigh and John Tressider share their memories of what was a historic time in the club’s history.
Above is a picture of the Falmouth Town team before they played Bath City in 1962 in the fourth qualifying round at Bickland Park in front of 4,000 fans.
Town had a famous victory over the illustrious Bath City of the old Southern League who were the FA Cup "giant killers" of the day, and included many who had enjoyed football league careers including Charlie "cannonball" Fleming in their line up, a former Scottish international who played in the top flight with Sunderland.
Town created a major shock by winning 2-1 with Centre Forward Peter Bennett scoring both the goals and inspiring manic pitch invasions.
In previous rounds they had beaten powerful Western league clubs Barnstaple Town and Bideford both in replays after drawing 1-1 in both home games also St Blazey.
This saw Falmouth become the first and only Cornish club to reach the first round proper of the FA Cup.
The draw for the first round proper saw football league side Oxford United come out of the hat and Cornish football saw a day it will probably never witness again: national media attention focused on Falmouth.
The BBC filmed the game which was broadcast later that night. Raymond Glendenning the famous boxing commentator did the live Radio commentary and an estimated 8,000 fans crowded into Bickland Park.
Ron Atkinson later to become manager of Manchester United and television pundit was the Captain of Oxford United that day.
Pupils at Trescobeas School, under the supervision of Mr Alan Spencer the woodwork teacher, made hundreds of wooden rattles. Fields around Union Corner were used for extra car parking and a special covered area in front of the main stand was created for the National Press.
Benches (I believe from Falmouth Docks) were placed all around the touchlines and 500 Oxford fans all bussed up from Penmere station were segregated by a single piece of pipe into the far corner opposite the pay box end.
All was very highly organised. Even the weather was good.
It was 0-0 at half time and Town were holding their own and with the revered forward line of Penny, Peach, Bennett, Sullivan and Russell (still rattled off from memory by older supporters) the miracle was still on.
It wasn’t to be, however, with Oxford scoring two goals midway through the second half. A goal by Penny prompted the inevitable pitch invasion by the home fans to give Town a glimmer of hope but apart from a shot by Sullivan which went just over the bar, that was it. The dream was over. It was back to the South Western League!
Falmouth Town Football Club had achieved what many would have considered to be impossible, having been created from nothing not much more than ten years earlier. They joined the old Cornwall Senior League playing on a farmers field at Union Corner opposite Budock Hospital with no changing facilities to start with. Players changed at the YMCA opposite Trago Mills and travelled by bus to the pitch.
They then purchased two sloping Donkey fields at "Ashfield" and with hard work they created a fine ground there with terracing etc.
Their reluctant but highly lucrative sale of the excellent "Ashfield" ground after only two seasons (their second home to Shell Mex & BP where the Park & Float is now) enabled them to become professional in a big way as they went to Bickland Park in 1957 having spent two years back at Union Corner while Bickland Park was being built.
They signed on a number of contract professional players with football league experience. The only "local" amateur was Newsagent John Garwood who had recently come to Falmouth from London. John still lives in the Town.
Eric Davis was the player manager and he had already enjoyed his moment of glory in the FA Cup by scoring twice for Scunthorpe United in knocking Newcastle United the holders out at St.James`s Park, Newcastle. Eric came to Falmouth via Plymouth Argyle as did many of the players.
Falmouth Town have enjoyed many golden moments since that day, including two more appearances in the first round proper of the FA Cup, both , ironically, against Peterborough United.
But nothing could match that golden day in November 1962.