Penryn Athletic Football Club will celebrate its 50th anniversary at its Kernick Road ground this weekend, and heading up the celebrations will be the same three men who founded the club all the way back in 1963.
Mike Young, Anthony Retallack, and Peter Young were still only schoolboys when they decided they wanted to start their own football team, and fifty years later it's still going strong, having grown into one of the county's most successful clubs.
“In the early days," said Mike, “the club played its games on the old Glasney College playing field, but it was far too small for any kind of league football. We met up at Perranwell to play against Falmouth teams, travelling up on the train to play on Saturday mornings on the playing fields which had a set of goalposts in place. We also played on top of a hill out at Budock - anywhere to get a game of football.”
Eventually in 1963 their newly-formed team applied to join the Truro and District Under 16 League, but there was just one problem: they still didn't have a ground.
As luck would have it, they heard that a farmer, Norman Dale, had moved out to Mylor, and was prepared to let them use one of his meadows at Dowstall Farm free of charge.
Mike remembers: “All we had to do was get there, which was a problem because we were all too young to drive!”
Not only were they too young to drive, they were too young to drink too, so Penryn Athletic's first few get-togethers took place not in a pub, but in a cellar kitchen on St Thomas Street in Penryn.
At that time, Mike, Peter and Tony were joined by Tony Martin and Mike Hughes, who can also be considered club founders. Their aim was simple: to get a game of football and become a recognised and respected team.
They managed to get hold of a pair of goalposts once used at Quarry School, and marked their new pitch (which had pigs rooting on it when it was not hosting football matches) with creosote and paintbrushes.
In 1964/65 they entered the Cornwall County Under 18s League, begging Penryn Borough Council to let them use the newly-laid Glasney playing field near the Penryn viaduct.
The council agreed, but insisted the pitch was for public use and only allowed Athletic to stay there for two seasons.
“It was good enough for us to gain entry to the Falmouth and Helston Division Two mens’ league, which we won in 1965/66, and again in 1966/67,” said Mike.
“We had nowhere to change, and scrounged a set of wooden goal posts from a local firm, Dales Garage.”
Once the two seasons were up, Athletic once again found themselves homeless - but not for long.
“We got wind of a field we could make a pitch out of opposite a newly built garage up at Kernick Road,” said Mike. “The garage owner, Flux, also owned the field and let us use the employee’s wash rooms to change in. We got promoted to the Falmouth and Helston Division One League and all went well at first, but then we lost all our best players to bigger clubs and at the end of the season almost went out altogether.
“Luckily for us, though, St Gluvias Cricket Club were relocating to a new ground called The Glebe behind the church, and we jumped in behind them on their old ground at Parkengue for a peppercorn rent. We were there for ten years and almost invincible on that notorious slope!”
It was during this period the club finally began to put down roots. Junior Cup triumph came in 1975, followed by a third division one league title.
Then came the pivotal moment in Athletic’s history.
In 1975, before Penryn Borough Council’s transition to Carrick, they offered the club the chance to buy their Parkengue ground, which they did for the princely sum of £865 - or £30,000 in today’s money.
Ten years later they swapped Parkengue for Kernick Road, erecting their current clubhouse in 1994, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The club is now in its seventh season in the Peninsula League, with more combined wins and points than any other side.
Mike apologised to anyone he had left out, and said the anniversary gave the club’s past and present members a chance to reflect on this first, long chapter in its history.
“There’s no such thing as a happy ending,” he said, “it just depends where you stop the story.”
Thanks to the efforts of him, and a dozen others, that story is set to run for many years yet.
Penryn Athletic’s 50th anniversary celebrations take place at Kernick Road on Saturday, October 12, starting at 7.30pm.
Penryn’s first and second teams from the 1968/69 season (above) featuring some well known faces, and (below) in their debut season in 1965/66 with the Colyer Shield, League Cup, and Carnival Cup
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