Sports Facilities beyond Morchard Bishop
The South West has never been a hotbed of professional football and the region’s professional sides have won virtually nothing of any significance in over a century of effort. Most have journeyed the lower leagues, but Plymouth Argyle currently reside in the league below the premiership for the first time in about 20 years and now has the distinction of being the highest ranked club south of Birmingham and west of Southampton. That having been said, it is also the largest English city never to have had a top division side.
Exeter City or the Grecians has the distinction of being the first club to play Brazil in 1904 as part of a bizarre FA authorised initiative to bring football to South America . They lost and the fortunes of the two sides have diverged ever since. Sadly two years ago, City lost their League status and now languishes in the Nationwide Conference and has also been beset with financial problems, despite the efforts of both Uri Geller and Michael Jackson. It is, however, an old-fashioned and friendly club with families welcomed in the old wooden stand and well worth a Saturday for Dad and any young football fan.
Torquay United has made it to the old third division, but has also achieved nothing in a long history and is probably not worth the journey unless you are very eccentric or are planning to visit Peter Cook’s birthplace.
Finally, there is Tiverton Town , who play in the Southern Football League. The Yellows have a small, but passionate following and are renowned as Cup fighters with stirring runs in the FA Cup and FA Vase, though their league form has dipped off recently.
It could be said that rugby has a larger and more enthusiastic following than football in the region. The Exeter Chiefs is the Jewel in the Crown of South West Rugby. The Chiefs now play in the Premiership league with Sandy Park as their home ground. Sandy Park has recently been chosen as a venue for three of the World Cup matches in 2015.
If you want to play cricket, you will be surprised how few clubs there actually are in this part of rural England . The club in Morchrad Bishop folded several years ago. However, if you want to play at the highest possible standard and share the field with outrageously talented young Australians and South Africans, you could try Sandford, near Crediton, Devon League champions for the last two seasons. Nearby Shobrooke Park is also a good standard and is an equally lovely parkland setting. If you are instead looking for something more timeless and in the village tradition, then try Chulmleigh which has a thatched pavilion, huge vistas towards Dartmoor, superb teas and play only friendlies against local villages and touring sides. All standards are welcome. (Telephone David Gidney on 01363 84739 if you would like to play).
Watching first class cricket involves a trip to Taunton to see Somerset though this one of the best batting pitches in the country and with very enthusiastic supporters so it is well worth it. Devon put out a respectable minor counties team though the best chance of seeing top players here is if they make it to the early rounds of the limited overs knock-out competition (where they are then eliminated). This is a good source of information for cricket in Devon.
Swimming pools for public use and all offering lessons:
The Waie Inn (Zeal Monachorum), about five miles away. It’s a small pool and a bit deep for small children, but you can have a pint afterwards. They sell goggles at the bar and this helps as the chlorine is a little strident.
The Lords Meadow Leisure Centre, in Crediton which is an excellent facility for the size of the town.
The Exe Valley Leisure Centre in Tiverton (tel: 01884 254221) , which was opened only in 2003 and is probably the pick of the three.
There is a lot of golf within a fifteen mile radius for all abilities:
Waterbridge just off the A377, south of Morchard Road , is described as an attractive gentle parkland course in a beautiful setting (9 holes 1955 yards S.S.S. 32), green fees are weekdays £6.00 9 holes £10.00 18 holes; weekends £7.00 9 holes £12.00 18 holes. 10% discount on parties of 10 and over. Clubs can be hired. Telephone 01363 85111
Chulmleigh is North Devon ‘s only tailor-made short game course It is an undulating parkland course of. 18 holes and just 1450 yards, but do not be fooled by this –its fiendishly difficult! Summer is extended to 2353 yards (S.S.S. 54). Green Fees are£8 for 18 holes and just £12.for 36 holes and a 50 day ticket costs £15.00. There are reductions for juniors under 16 and clubs for hire at 30p each. No handicap certificates are required. Described as “suitable for experienced golfers to improve their short game and ideal for beginners, Juniors and retired golfers”. There is a good bar and a holiday cottage available. Telephone 01769 580519)
There are full length 18 hole courses at Crediton (tel: 01363 773025), green fees $24 to £27, the Highbullen Hotel at Chittlehamholt (01769 540561) £14 to £16 and Libbaton (near High Bickington, tel: 01769 560269) at $15 to £18.