Friday, March 2, 2007

Pirates march on Premiership - Ebren

Public schools might have been the birthplace of English rugby, and Twickenham its head, but its beating heart is in Cornwall.

Camborne, Newlyn, Launceston, Redruth. Not places you see on tourist brochures but games between these sides have produced attendances to rival the top flight almost anywhere in the world.

And local rivalries are just the start.

The Cornish are more than a county, they are a nation. A nation with two symbols, two rallying cries - the St Piran's cross and the black and gold of the county rugby team.

Barcelona, Dynamo Kiev, Red Star Belgrade, and Croatia Zagreb have all been symbols of nationality in a wider state. Cornwall doesn't have a league football team to represent them – there is no need – they have
rugby.

On April 20th, 1991 some 40,000 Cornishmen and women marched on south-west London, twice the population of the county capital Truro, and returned home as English champions for the first time since 1908.

This was a golden period for the county – reaching five Twickenham finals in 10 years – and there is movement in the south-west again.

A decade ago Richard 'Dicky' Evans took control of Penzance and Newlyn RFC – the Pirates.

He embraced professionalism and - drawing on a fortune earned largely in Kenya - he drove the club through the Western Counties League, the Nationwide Leagues, and to the brink of the Premiership.

Talent from Africa and the Southern Hemisphere has been on show at the Mennaye ground and attendances swelled.

But the ground is now holding the club back, Premiership stadia must hold 15,000 and there is no room for this 1930s site to expand.

The Pirates of Penzance and Newlyn moved to Truro – an hour away from their traditional fanbase – and re-branded themselves as the Cornish Pirates.

Last season attendances rose and the club finished third, but this experiment to unite Cornwall behind one club that plays in the Premiership is controversial and uncertain.

The high cost of renting the new ground, not to mention the expense and inconvenience of shipping fans across the county, has now seen the Pirates abandon their central-Cornwall base and move in with traditional rivals Camborne.

There have been mutterings of discontent among the faithful, that their club has been given to others, their team moved and them inconvenienced by an owner's ambition.

And opposing fans have been far from universal in accepting they should support their ancient rivals and a team they have no links to.

But despite uncertainties, the dream of Premiership rugby in Cornwall is still alive.

"Ten years ago I asked you to support me in taking this club into the professional era. At that time there were those who were totally against this move, there are people that are against this latest move," Evans said when the Truro move was announced.

"However, it is my belief that we must try this . . . Cornwall deserves a Premiership rugby club and it is our aim to bring that to them."

10 comments:

andrewm said...

Ebren, it's a freaking crime they didn't print this.

Do we have to call you The Honourable Ebren now?

In my opinion you know it's good writing when you couldn't care less about the subject matter but you find yourself totally caught up in the article, as I was with this.

This has been an excellent lunch hour :o)

jonnyboy71 said...

andrewm, I'm surprised that Ebren's superb piece on the March of the Pastie hit the spot for you, given that you also said "articles offer little angle for comment ... the Henman article ... Well written, yes, but what does it tell me that I didn't know?".

Then again, I could just be fucking with you here ;)

Ebren said...

JB - I was hoping to rile people from Bath and Bristol and the Devonish generally by claiming Cornwall was "The Best!"

And what do you mean pasties? You stereotyping rascist.

On a side note - check out this image from the 91 final

http://www.trelawnysarmy.org.uk/ta/Pictures/Twick1991/image001.htm

jonnyboy71 said...

I was at uni in London at the time and a mate of mine, Dave "Guv" Moyles, was the ultimate Cornishman - he was pissed for a week before and a week after the game. Couldn't unnerszdand a word he said, even when sober. I think he has since fathered a 7s team, which will be on the IRB circuit soon, wearing black and yellow and campaigning for independence.

Margin said...

The logic of this article is the logic of franchise sport.

does a place really deserve a sporting stature? If so then clearly Milton Keynes deserved a football team.

Just picking clubs up and moving them round to fit a perception of fairness is ultimately dangerous and a trend well worth opposing.

andrewm said...

jonny, you have a point - I'm horribly biased in favour of everyone on this blog, no question.

Still, I thought this was better than the ones GU chose this week. I don't like or understand rugby, so if I'm going to read an article about it then it has to do something fairly special to hold my attention. This one does.

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

Fantastic result Ebren, you managed to get andrew and jonny talking to each other in a civilised manner.

Honestly lads, I missed the thread in which the spat originated, so I won't comment on jonny's alleged anti-Scot bias or andrew's touchiness, but it's nice to see you both in the same place and interacting.

On topic? errrr, I'd love to visit Cornwall one day.

andrewm said...

offside, having reviewed the thread I'm man enough to admit I was out of line.

Yes, again.

jonny, that's as close as you'll get to an apology :)

It seems rugby really CAN bring warring nations together. Hallelujah!

guitougoal said...

Ebren can you possibly imagine if something like that would happen in the premiership? like Chelsea moving to Arsenal or Man utd to Liverpool?
Exellent :o)

MotM said...

I recall lots of Frank Keating type stuff about Cornwall venerating Rugby's County Final whilst other counties were ringing round Sale Third XV to see if anyone had clean kit for the weekend.

Good stuff, but I liked the Istanbul one more.

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