ATT: circa 40
Additional: Entrance £2.00, Programme NONE
Treflan in pictures
Llansanffraid Village FC were founded in 2007, after the old tenants of Treflan (or The Recreation Ground) moved just over the border in England to Park Hall in Oswestry. This is of course TNS or The New Saints of Llansanffraid and Oswestry, to give them their full title. They moved to their new premises, equipped with 3G pitch, because of a tightening of ground regulations in the FAW. So with the tiny village of Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain sporting a perfectly good, newly vacated football ground, some of the old committee members and some volunteers founded a new club for the village and started at the bottom of the Welsh Pyramid.
This was the Montgomeryshire Division Two, step five of Welsh football. They won promotion in their first season, losing just once. In their second season, in the Montgomeryshire First Division they were champions again, with no defeats all season. This, their third season, sees them at step three in the Spar Mid Wales League, currently lying in third place behind Berriew and Llanrhaeadr.
There has been a football team in the village since the end of the nineteenth century, when Llansantffraid White Stars formed. Then Llansantffraid Football Club formed in 1959, and had massive success in the nineties, forging their way through the pyramid, to the League of Wales in 1993. They won the Welsh Cup in 1995 and 1996, becoming the smallest side to do so ,as well as the first side from mid-wales to do so in the twentieth century. They were taken over by Total Network Solutions in 1997 and went on to win their first League of Wales Championship in 2000.
TNS, with new words representing the initials, are quite well known now and regular contenders for both league and cup, and this season celebrated their first aggregate european cup victory over Bohemian of Dublin. Is it great, though, that the village of Llansanffraid keeps up the use of the Treflan ground and keeps football in that part of Wales.
The spelling of the village varies and is currently in transition from Llansantffraid to Llansanffraid. The extra t was an anglicised Victorian addition and is now being eradicated, but signs still abound in both forms. Since 1254 there has been a staggering 17 different spellings of the village. The name means the Church of St Bridget in the cantref of Mechain.
I had planned to visit Treflan in 2006, but the match was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. So I was delighted to see that the ground is still in active use and I had a chance to see it. It is right in the centre of the village, which is pretty much just a high street with newsagent and chip shop. The ground sits behind the community centre. Entrance was just £2 but I was a tad disappointed to find out there were no programmes.
For the Spar Mid Wales League Treflan is like a Maracana Stadium, as most clubs’ grounds in this league will be little more than a pitch with perimeter bar and no floodlights. Only Berriew, Presteigne St Andrews and Llanidloes Town have floodlights in this league, with Llandrindod Wells sporting some in division two. You can always tell the grounds with floodlights in the Welsh Leagues by looking at the kick off times in winter – those with floodlights are 2.30 and those without 2.00.
There are two stands, the biggest sitting behind the goal, nine rows up and about 45 across giving a capacity of around 400. The other is a much smaller side stand sitting snugly against the elevated bank. This is about a 150 seater.
A path runs behind this stand from ground level at one side, to quite a steep elevation at the other end where it snakes behind the big stand. This path, at its height, gives great views if you want to stand. It was where the picture of the main stand was taken. Walking round the ground I got the feeling that the current owners were struggling to keep the ground in pristine condition – it seemed like a little neglect had seeped in in places, since the Welsh giants TNS had left. Hardly surprising if true – with an attendance of circa 40 paying £2 each; that’s not going to stretch to the cost of the floodlights shining down on the last half hour. As ever at this level of football, I am amazed at how financially resilient clubs are.
The visitors Tywyn & Bryncrug hail from the West Coast, south of Barmouth. One of the linesmen seemed to be their manager or coach. He was wearing the away team shorts and quite flagrantly shouting instructions to them while running up and down the line checking for fouls and offside; all the while running on the pitch rather than behind the line. As in the picture he spent most of the half on the pitch, something most refs would not tolerate. He was replaced at half time, presumably for the first choice linesman.
The game was less one-sided than I expected in the first half. Half expecting a good drubbing, I was surprised to see Tywyn & Bryncrug give as good as they got; and their efforts were rewarded by a glancing header from a free-kick just before half-time; 0-1.
In the second half Llansanffraid stepped up a gear and were very good value for their three goal advantage – they were a few sitters off a bigger scoreline. Some of the football was of a really good standard and both sides tried to play attractive stuff on a difficult pitch. A full function room was available with a bar – there were no coffee or teas available but this was just because of a staff shortage. Well worth the trip for an unusually large Welsh step three ground.