27 June ~ Cornwall is only two steps away from being represented in the Football League. In winning the 2010-11 Southern League Premier Division and securing their place in Blue Square South, Truro City have now achieved a fifth promotion in six seasons. No one’s clear if it’s some sort of record but either way it quite an achievement. Formed in 1889, the club were in local Cornish Leagues and then the South Western League until seven years ago. Then, property developer Kevin Heaney took over with a ten-year plan to turn the club into a professional outfit. A year into his reign Truro got the first of their six promotions to date and won the 2007 FA Vase final at Wembley. The club were on the up.

However, while the team grew through good management and squad investment (striker Barry Hayles was last season’s star addition) improvements to the ground itself have been stunted – the three stands constructed out of scaffold are testament to this. Problems with the stands, along with rundown toilets and lack of a club shop, are signs of the clubs lowly past; indeed much of the Treyew Road ground wouldn’t look out of place in county level football. The FA's Ground Grading document specifies exactly what’s required of grounds at this level and the fear among many Truro fans is that this lag in ground development could be the club’s undoing.

In the short term, the ground needs to be bought up to Conference standards. But long term it needs to be maintained at this level, which is another challenge altogether. The only way to ensure this happens is by increasing the numbers through the turnstiles. Crowds have grown from sub-100 to an average of over 500, but they need to increase consistently if the necessary developments are to be funded and sustained.

Truro is a small city, but it’s the only community in Cornwall with a club at this level so the potential for a healthy Conference outfit is certainly there. However, there is strong competition from rugby union and many more fans needing to be “converted” from established allegiances to Plymouth, Exeter and Premier League clubs.

The challenges are there for all to see: a club playing at a level never seen before in Cornwall; an underdeveloped ground; and a travel bill for away games which is one of the highest in the country (last year Truro covered more than 10,000 miles fulfilling their away fixtures). All of the above will bring additional costs to the club and it’s only through the engaging of existing local sports fans that Truro can hope to survive in the long term. But getting the ground suitable for play at just two levels below the Football League may prove challenge enough for now. Will Wears

Comments (12)
Comment by Paul Rowland 2011-06-27 13:35:53

"Truro City - Pride of Cornwall". YUK! I hate it when football fans do that. This is not just a dig at Truro. All the other big clubs do it too. For example, when Man United play in Europe, it's "Man United - Pride of England". Suddenly, as far as they're concerned we're no longer City fans, Chelsea fans, Arsenal fans, Truro fans, or just plain ABU fans - we're suddenly all expected to be proud Man United fans. Not me. No way! I was rooting for Barca in the Champions League final. Pride of England my arse.

Maybe it's different in Cornwall?

Comment by Admin5 2011-06-27 14:27:46

Not the author's fault - headline added by us. Sorry you don't like it.

Comment by jameswba 2011-06-27 14:28:54

Paul,the dreaded phrase isn't used in the article itself and I think we can be 99.9% sure its author didn't write the headline. The article is an interesting look at a club from a part of the country you don't offer hear about ; good luck to Truro next season.

Comment by jameswba 2011-06-27 15:24:11

Admin 5 was a bit quicker! Meanwhile, I meant ' don't often hear about', of course.

Comment by Paul Rowland 2011-06-27 16:04:25

OK then, in that case I'll withdraw the beef about "Pride of Wherever". I'll move on to another bete noir of mine: why is that in almost every inspiring, uplifting story about clubs coming back from the dead and flying up the football pyramid at the rate of knots, there's always a "propery developer" involved somewhere along the line?

Property developers. YUK. They take all the romance out of it, don't they?

Comment by Liffrok 2011-06-27 21:43:05

Particularly when the property developer is Kevin Heaney - he's already taken one business into liquidation (Cornish Homes, in 2008), and he's recently become involved with the consortium looking to buy Plymouth Argyle. TCFC's future is decidedly iffy, particularly as their natural fanbase isn't anything like big enough to support Conference South-level football without Heaney's money.

Comment by Max Payne 2011-06-28 06:04:55

Good luck Truto. Who knows they might get to play rivals Plymouth Argyle season after next. That's a decent crowd guaranteed. If that happens I'll need new underwear, mind.

Comment by theWD 2011-06-28 10:06:36

In reference to the comment about Truros fan base: The average attendance in BS South was 598 last season and Truros avarage gate was 527. So they're in the same ball-park, and of course Truro were playing at a lower level. With a solid seaon in 11/12 I would expect a 580 average at least. I still don't think thats enough to make a team completly solvent, but other teams seem to get by on such crowds...

Comment by Alex Walker 2011-06-28 10:11:29

Technically Paul, it's the 'pride of all Europe'.

In regards to fanbase, the comment was 'natural fan base'. Which suggests Liffrock was referring to the sub 100 who attended before Heaney turned up.

Comment by theWD 2011-06-28 10:22:14

'Natural' fan base is hard to compare, given that Truro have been playing in the lower leagues previously. What would be the 'natural' fan base of other BS South teams be if they dropped 2/3 levels? A lot lower than it is now. A fair comparison will be in 1/2 years time, once Truro have stabilised at this level. As I said, I suspect that they'll then average 500 ; which in time, would be considered their natural fan base.

Comment by Liffrok 2011-06-28 12:02:27

Yes, that's the point I was (badly) trying to make. Truro's where I grew up and where I now work, so it would be great for the city if there was a professional football team here, and I'm sure it could be supported - the Cornish Pirates egg-chasers, who have played in Truro, Redruth and Penzance in the last few years, seem to be doing okay. They do need to find a way to wean themselves off Heaney's money before it's too late, though, and maybe close the gap between income and expenditure. I dread to think how much of their turnover goes on wages; as the article says, there's no club shop, just a slightly run-down bar on the main road. The ground's a fair hike up the hill out of town, so no tourists will really pass Treyew Road on a matchday unless they're making a special trip to watch CS football. They've got a long way to go before they're stable and viable.

Comment by Steve Jinman 2011-07-02 18:08:38

Another Colne Dynamoes/Rushden & Diamonds in the making. When Heaney's property company went bust local businesses were left unpaid then watched as money was lavished on paying the likes of Barry Hayles to play. Since the turn of the year Heaney is also regularly reported to being involved with Plymouth Argyle. Having seen them play in each of the last two seasons the funds are being put into sustain as full time team as you'll get at this level so all things being equal they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. But I fear they will sink as fast as they rose if Heaney pulls out.

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