It is 11am and a dove has just narrowly avoided flying straight into the windscreen of the Helston Athletic team bus in the club car park.

That is the doing of staunch Blues supporter Rodney Williams, who is stood in front of the coach, holding a wicker basket full of doves.

The doves are meant to bring the team luck as they embark on their 211-mile journey to English Football League Two side Forest Green Rovers for their historic FA Youth Cup first round proper tie.

Will they? Only time will tell.

It may be the start of the Blues' journey that day, but the end destination in Gloucestershire is just the next step of Helston's under-18 side's groundbreaking FA Youth Cup journey, which has seen them become the first Cornish team to reach the first round proper of the tournament, just a year after becoming the first team from the Duchy to participate in the competition for 60 years.

This year's journey has seen them traverse through four qualifying rounds, enjoying a walkover of Longwell Green Sports before seeing off Street, Brislington and Brockenhurst – all ranked one division above the Blues – to book their spot alongside the big boys of the EFL Leagues One and Two.

Helston will be mixing it in the first round with teams six and seven divisions above their South West Peninsula League status, but had already technically lasted longer than one of them, with League Two Plymouth Argyle's youngsters losing 1-0 at home to arch rivals Exeter City in the first tie of the round four days earlier.

But would the young Blues be heading the way of Exeter or Argyle, come full-time in Gloucestershire at the end of the evening?

Falmouth Packet:

Helston supporter Rodney Williams releases some doves to mark the start of the Blues' trip to Gloucestershire and to bring the side some luck

The doves clearly hadn't begun working their magic as it transpires that a fallen tree has blocked the main road to Truro, meaning a 20-minute diversion through Four Lanes and Redruth before reaching the first pick-up point at Marks & Spencer in Truro, where first-team manager Steve Massey and Piran Films videographer Mark Huckle, who was to film the cup tie, board the coach.

A second stop follows at Fraddon before the coach reaches full numbers, ensuring a swift switch in activity from homework assignments to the in-coach film, Ted.

The team coach cohort includes all 20 travelling squad members, co-manager Martyn Daughtery and his wife, vice chairman Stuart Massey, brother Steve, Mark and his commentator for the evening Cameron Weldon, and myself.

Notable absences from the group were Daughtery's fellow co-manager Stu Giles, who is meeting the team later in the journey, and chairman Paul Hendy, who sadly could not make the trip.

The group is also supported by a second supporters' coach, filled with the players' friends and family and has been kindly paid for by Steve Massey.

One-hundred and seven minutes of film and a further hour or so of motorways and A roads later, the coach arrives for the pre-match meal at Stonehouse Court Hotel in Stroud, some 20 minutes from Rovers' ground, The New Lawn.

A meal of scrambled and poached egg, beans and toast follows, before Daughtery and Giles deliver their pre-match briefing.

Their question of, "Anyone nervous?" is mostly met by silence, bar a lone voice saying: "I am!"

"That's OK," responds Giles, before launching into the briefing, when he chooses to highlight a comment he had heard about the side, who went the whole of last season unbeaten, needing to 'get used to losing'.

"I don't understand that comment," he says, "because it's ridiculous."

The two managers go on to tell the boys what they require from them, both tactically and mentally.

The pair acknowledge the League Two academy side's many strengths and a few of their weaknesses, before Daughtery addresses one of his own side's strengths – themselves.

"We've got a togetherness that you can't buy," he says. "We play for each other."

A few final tactical observations are made before the group heads out to the coach for the last leg of the journey to The New Lawn in the civil parish of Nailsworth, with its population of just under 6,000 making it the smallest settlement to ever host a Football League team.

However, they are the big fishes tonight as the Cornish club from six divisions below them pitch up at the ground.

Rovers are also known for being the world's first vegan club - a fact you are reminded of during the walk from the entrance to the media room.

In fact, a wall is plastered with a quote from BBC Radio Gloucester commentator Bob Hunt, who said this after the club earned promotion to the EFL via the play-offs at Wembley in 2017:

"Let me tell you this: Cheltenham, Swindon, Newport – you're going to eat houmous at the New Lawn next season because Forest Green Rovers are in the Football League."

Quite how the club will react when they see the Blues' tracksuits, emblazoned with sponsor, Scorse's Butchers, on the back with a picture of a pig, is anyone's guess...

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The complimentary post-match vegan chili in the Forest Green Rovers hospitality suite

As Mark, Cameron and I search for the media room - fittingly named the Wotton Suite, like the namesake Truro City boss Paul – to set up our respective equipment, the team head to their dressing room on the other side of the pitch before heading out onto the turf to assess the pristine condition of the surface and pose for a squad photograph.

They go back in before returning for the warm-up as the home supporters begin to enter the ground. The Blues supporters are conspicuous in their absence, however, with their bus caught in traffic and only arrives just as the players emerge for kick-off.

They had barely taken their seats before their respective sons, siblings, team-mates and friends find themselves a goal down, with Destiny Oladipo heading home in the fourth minute.

Not the start they would have wanted, and it gets worse midway through the half when, just as the young Blues are getting a foothold in the game, Oladipo hits them with a sucker punch of a second goal.

"I'm worried their heads might drop," says Piran Films commentator Cameron, but the youngsters pick themselves up and began to fight back.

Lewis Tonkin causes a scare amongst the home side when he closes down goalkeeper Louis Owens' clearance, before captain Harrison Jewell fizzes a shot wide from distance.

All of a sudden the Blues are looking good and looking like they can get back into this tie.

But then, just after the fourth official holds up his board declaring one minute of added time, disaster strikes. The impressive Daniel Bradshaw breaks through and powers a shot past Kieran Daughtery at the near post to all but kill the tie in the final action of the first half.

Two down wouldn't have been ideal, but with the Blues picking up towards the end of the half, there was certainly hope.

Three, however, was near fatal.

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Piran Films videographer Mark Huckle and commentator Cameron Weldon begin their pre-match preparations

Spurred on by their team-mates, managers and loved ones in the stand, the boys keep their higher-ranked opponents at bay and threaten on the break, with Tonkin and Alex Wharton getting shots on Owens' goal.

But their resistance is broken once again when substitute Dylan Morgan fires home with five minutes left of the 90, before Oladipo completes his hat-trick in the third of four additional minutes to rub salt in the wounds of the travelling Cornish clan. The hosts are deserved winners, but five goals flatters them a little.

Referee Andrew Hobbs blasts his whistle for the final time a minute or so later, and Helston's dream is over – for another year at least.

The players trudge to the middle of the park to have their post-match huddle, before turning back to the stand to receive a standing ovation from their loved ones, plus Massey and the three of us in the media section. They may have lost on the night, but they were still winners.

Massey digests the defeat in front of the Piran Films cameras before the whole travelling cohort heads to the hosts' hospitality suite for complimentary vegan chili. Some choose to discuss the events of the previous 90 minutes whilst eating. Others elect to follow the Carabao Cup scores on Sky Sports News on the big screen.

Despite the defeat, the long journey back is far from a sombre one, although hitting the back of a queue at temporary traffic lights within minutes of leaving The New Lawn does not exactly help.

Rather than focus on the loss, the team chooses to celebrate the final hurrah what has been a wonderful journey for the squad over the last few weeks. A nailbiting penalty shootout win, a confident 5-0 away win and an eight-goal hammering on home soil, before getting the opportunity to take on a Football League academy side. It has been some ride for the young Blues.

Spirits are still high as an impromptu karaoke session takes place on the coach. Newbies are told to sing by way of initiation – and unfortunately there is no free pass for the media.

"Full credit to them, they’re an excellent team, but I’m just proud of the boys’ effort, I thought the effort throughout was phenomenal," Daughtery says during a post-match interview on the coach after the karaoke shenanigans have died down.

There is no hiding the disappointment of defeat, but there is also no hiding his pride in his side.

The coach finally arrives back at Helston's Kellaway Park ground at precisely 3am - no thanks to a diversion through Bodmin - and the team depart the coach at the end of a long FA Youth Cup journey for the final time as a squad.

Some will be back for another go next season, but it is the end of the road for others, who will be too old by then.

Whatever happens to this group of boys, who still have a domestic treble of trophies to try and retain this season, they can always look back at the time they created Cornish sporting history.

Even if those doves couldn't keep their promise.

Falmouth Packet:

The Helston Athletic under-18s squad on the pitch prior to kick-off at The New Lawn