Wednesday 21st July 2021
Mid Wales League East
Churchstoke 3 Forden United 3 HT: 2-1
Marston 6,70 Williams 21 : O’Donnell 5, Smith 48, Henderson Smith 80 (p)
from Cae Camlad
After over 18 months without a visit to a Welsh Ground this was third in a row; I was fully taking advantage of the early starts in the new Welsh Pyramid, as opposed to the usual July friendlies. I’ve never been much for friendlies, so to see competitive football in July with the light evenings is a real bonus, especially when you throw in the typical Welsh backdrop.
Churchstoke is a town that sits in Wales but where Wales sticks a thumb out into England, poking a hole in the Shropshire Hills. So it sits in a peninsula of Wales surrounded on three sides by England. Maybe this is why it reportedly has the second least percentage of Welsh speakers at 4.3%. It’s Welsh name is Yr Ystog and there is sometimes a separation of Church and Stoke in the town name.
The football team seem to have started in 2014/15 season (at least at this sort of level) in the Spar Mid Wales league which was a couple of leagues spanning steps three and four of the Welsh Pyramid. The new Welsh Pyramid has replaced these tiers with what would be the Ardal North East League at step three and the Mid Wales East League and Mid Wales West League at step four. Churchstoke play in the Mid Wales East League.
Churchstoke is very much a village rather than a town, but despite the size, as you drop down into the village there is something called the Churchstoke Shopping Centre, a large building which appears to be a Co-op department store of sorts. The groceries section alone would make it the biggest Co-op ever, let alone the extra concessions sprouting off from it. It also had the most amazing selection of beers for a supermarket I’ve seen, since going to a Booth’s in the Lake District. It had beers from around seven or eight local breweries plus many more craft ales from further afield. Knowing how good Monty’s Ales are from nearby Montgomery, I plumped for five different hitherto untried ales from their range, all for around £12.
Having some time to kill beforehand I visited both village pubs, the Horse & Jockey and the Court House, which is just at the end of the road from the ground. I can recommend both as fine and welcoming hostelries, selling a decent pint.
Thje ground is called Cae Camlad or Camlad Park, named after the river Camlad which the circles round the village. Cae means field in Welsh (not sure why Nefyn’s is called Cae’r Delyn rather than Cae Delyn).
The reason non-league and Welsh leagues are so appealing is how down to earth and welcoming they are. I turned up about 90 minutes early, just to take some photos, and was warmly received by, it turned out, I believe, the assistant manager and manager of Churchstoke. They seemed to be preparing everything for the game, such as kits, covid admin paraphernalia and whatnot, but despite their workload were very friendly and accommodating, recommending the Horse & Jockey, who it turns out is their sponsor.
Camlad Park has nice views of the Shropshire Hills, as well as its own trees framing it on two sides. The bottom end is inaccessible, but the other three sides are railed, with one stand sitting in the middle down one side.
The visitors today, Forden United, only moved to the Mid Wales League in 2019 from the Montgomery Amateur League and as such only had one season, finishing 8th out of 14. In this season I saw them win 10-0 away at Knighton Town (who have a lovely ground by the way). They beat them 10-0 at home too.
No such thrashing was on the cards today, as the teams were evenly matched. Forden took an early lead, when the goaly dropped a cross onto the head of O’Donnell.
Within a few minutes Marston for Churchstoke ran round the keeper to slot home an equaliser and then Williams put them 2-1 up before the break. Forden equalised shortly after half-time, only for Marston to edge the home side in front again on 70. Forden deserved a share of the spoils and made it 3-3 from the spot ten minutes from time – another engrossing game in Wales.