Cornish Volleyball – A Potted History

In 1972 a whirlwind tour of all UK shore establishments by the Royal Navy Volleyball Coach saw “proper” volleyball (rather than the jungle rules variety) introduced to RNAS Culdrose.

After two years of effort by the servicemen competing with the more traditional sports, Cornwall saw its first real volleyball in the summer of 1974 when a Culdrose team took on a side made up from staff and curious locals at Carn Brea Leisure Centre.  Sadly nothing regular resulted from that day, but a few seeds were planted.

Already becoming hungry for more competition, bolstered by early successes in service volleyball, Culdrose were forced to travel to Plymouth to take part in the P & D League for regular matches.  There they regularly competed against a young Steve Allen and a very promising Mayflower side

A cold night in a broken down bus on Dartmoor on the way back from a match at HMP helped make them more determined to find local competition, and with the arrival in “Ultima Thule” as he called it, of our late Life President, Tom Fisher, a series of meetings with the servicemen saw our first competition proper take place at Culdrose Sports Centre in May 0f 1981.

Sides from Culdrose, Helston, RCH Treliske and Brea Village (later to become Countrymen) took part and the Cornwall Volleyball Association was formed shortly afterwards.

At its peak in the late 1980’s we saw two strong Men’s leagues of 11 and 8 teams and a Ladies league of six teams.

Many players of note have drifted in and out of our game here and after early efforts at Caerhays and Gwithian, beach volleyball came to stay, with Perranporth a fixture in the diary of many, several from other regions.

Lack of funding and volunteers have added to the geographical hurdles which have always faced us in the area of development, but there are once again the seeds being sewn of schools development and it has been a joy to watch the “second generation” Helston club bring on its many youngsters to the current strong levels.

The Culdrose players (as part of the RN Team) and Helston and Six Pak made early ventures into the National Volleyball League , as well as the Seahawks (Culdrose/Fire Brigade/Countrymen ) in the Regional League.  After several years of decline during the two most recent recessions, the Kernow squad have evolved to provide competiton at the next level for the stonger local players.  Several consistently good years in the Regional League have now seen them elected to the NVL.

Who knows what the future holds for volleyball here in its furthest outpost, but as we evolve towards perhaps a different method of delivery in the coming year, I urge all players past and present to support their local teams and also get along to Truro to watch the few home matches Kernow will play in the NVL.

Dave Robson  September 2014.

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