It was Tuesday and another midweek trip south-west to Wales, for some more very early league action, this time in the step four Mid Wales East League. Waterloo Rovers were the hosts, playing at the same site as Welshpool Town, but a proper ground nonetheless, despite having the unsatifisfactory name of Maes-y-Dre Extension (Maes-y-Dre being the name of Welshpool’s Ground). To access it is not easy, as you need to drive past Welshpool Town, to an unmarked road that says Private – Access Only with no indication of a football ground at the end of it.
Four Crosses 1 Llanfair United 4 HT: 1-2 Att: 40 hc Gregory (og) 37 : Astley 27,89 (p) Hughes 30, Mwamuka 87
from Foxen Manor
I continued my Welsh travels this Saturday, this time for the Welsh cup, with a trip to another team on the border of England and Wales. Churchstoke, where I went Wednesday, sits in a chode shaped Welsh protuberance into the Shropshire hills, whereas Four Crosses sits a bit higher up, on the site of Offa’s Dyke Path, a few miles south of Oswestry.
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.
Wednesday 14th July 2021 19.00 North Wales Coast League Premier
Nefyn United 5 Glantraeth 1 HT: 2-0 Att: 75hc
from Cae’r Delyn
I like Nefyn for its remoteness. It lies halfway down the Lleyn peninsula, which sticks out like a shrivelled arm from the head that is Anglesey, and its Menai Strait neck. With the Welsh f being pronounced v I always think of Pat Nevin, the 80’s Chelsea player, taker of the worst penalty I’ve ever seen – you can google it. Barry Davies’s comments after are hilarious. Driving past Portmadoc onto the Lleyn peninsula the scenery becomes flatter and brighter that the Snowdonia region, more windswept and desolate. It lies on the coast on the north side and is a small village of population 1,400, and lays claim to being where singer Duffy hails from.
Saturday 3rd July 2021 14.00 North East Wales League Premier
Halkyn & Flint Mountain 3 Castell Alun Colts 2 HT: 1-1 Reece 4, Davies 50, Williams 93
from Pant Newydd
Despite being early July this was actually the opening day of the season in the brand new step three North East Wales Premier League. It had been almost two years since my last venture to the Principality, largely due to Wales not allowing spectators during the two covid hiatuses (hiati?). It was great to be back, and for an actual league game. The early start I think was to ensure enough time for the season to finish given suspected postponements due to covid reasons.
This was a South Wales Groundhop organised by Groundhop UK. It started on the Friday night with a South Wales Alliance fixture at Canton Liberal. Canton Liberal were founded in 2006 and this eveing they were playing the team from down the road, Grange Albion. Only the Cardiff City Stadium is between their grounds.
The ground is part of the Cardiff International Sports Campus, nestled between the larger athletics stadium and Cardiff City’s Stadium. It has the perimeter bar but no stands. The home team edged the win in an entertaining game.
Game Two Saturday 25th August 2018 11.00 Gwent County League One
AC Pontymister 3 Blaenavon Blues 2 HT: 0-1 Att: 238 Thomas 53 Davies 71 Kidman 85p : Burton 28 Cuff 76og
from Pontymister Recreation Ground
It was an early start to the Saturday, an 11.00am kick off in order to squeeze four games in, in one day. Usually the early games on hops are dreadful and I’d always assumed this was a result of the players not being used to getting up that early and being shell shocked. 67% of pre-12.00 kick-offs end up as goalless draws.
This game, however, was superb – by far the best early morning kick off I’d seen. It was also a charming venue. This was after a superb breakfast in the Coffee Mill, in Commercial Street, within walking distance of the ground.
The ground, like all those on the hop on Saturday were in the Newport area. Pontymister was to the north west, on the outskirts of Risca. The two others we went to today are also visible on the map, Villa Dino and Pill YMCA (We went off hop for the third game). Actually the Villa Dino you can see is the eponymous restaurant rather than the ground, which is in Bassaleg.
The visitors were Blaenavon Blues, who play further north between Ebbw Vale and Abergavenny. They led at half time but were pegged back in the second half before equalising. Pontymister had the last word with a late penalty, to finish a great game.
Game Three Saturday 25th August 2018 14.00 Nathaniel Car Sales League Cup Round One
Cwmbran Celtic 2 Trefelin Boys and Girls Club 3 HT: 0-1 Att: 40
Prangley 50, Ham 85 : Edwards 28, Latham 65p, 75
from Celtic Park
For the second Saturday game we fancied a bigger venue so went off to Cwmbran for their Welsh League Cup tie against lower league opposition Trefelin BGC. Despite being two divisions below, bizarrely, they were the current cup holders.
Their grip on the cup was tenacious as they belied the two division gap to beat first division Cwmbran on their own ground, to continue their amazing cup run.
Cwmbran Celtic were founded in 1925 and play in the shadow, almost literally, of the other more famous Cwmbran – Town, who play at the impressive stadium of the rugby club.
It was a really entertaining cup tie; Trefelin BGC played some great football and deserved to progress to the next round.
Game Four Saturday 25th August 2018 16.15 Gwent County League Division One
Villa Christchurch Dino 1 Newport Civil Service 3 HT: 0-2 Att: 201
Butler 61 : Eidoori 8,9 Ridler 80
from Whitehead Sports & Social Club
The advertised kick off for the this third game was 16.30 so it was a tad ammoying to turn up five minutes before kick off to watch the second goal go in.
The team are named after the area to the east of Newport, Christchurch, but they play in Bassaleg, to the west, just off junction 27 of the M4 and near the river Ebbw. The Villa Dino part of their name refers to the Italian restaurant of owner Dino Gulotta. The club also incorporates Eveswell who merged with them and only seems to have visibility in the club emblem as the letter e.
They were playing near neighbours Newport Civil Service, who had raced into a two goal lead before kick off, a double strike from Eidoori. This doesn’t break my record for missed early goals though. Once at Leek Town have left the Dyers Arms a bit too late I turned up at the ground at 3.01 to discover I hadn’t missed one goal but two! The visitors had taken the lead after seconds and then Leek had equalised with still barely a minute on the clock.
As you come in to the Whitehead Sports & Social Club there are the old crumbly dug outs on the near side with a mild bank where spectators liked to congregate. Behind each end were hedges and the far side backed on to another pitch and had some pristine new branded dugouts.
Despite Butler getting a goal back for the hosts the Civil Service got the best goal of the game to wrap it up on 80 minutes.
Game Five Saturday 25th August 2018 18.30 Gwent County League One
The final game of the day was back in the heart of Newport to Pill YMCA. The club is a merger of Newport Central YMCA and Newport Pill YMCA and then last year also Pill AFC.
The YMCA tag isn’t just in name only, the club do actually play in the YMCA grounds and accessed through the YMCA building.
The hop left the best ground until last in my opinion. The ground had real character, being a nicely enclosed pitch with stand, banked elevation and a unique backdrop of the Newport Transporter Bridge. This is one of only two operational transporter bridges on the UK and there are fewer than 10 in the world. It carries cars and lorries across the river Usk by picking them up in a kind of crate and winching them over. To top the ground off some looming power masts traversed the ground to round off the industrial feel.
Even by Gwent County League standards this was a local derby, with Liswerry just over the other side of the river Usk, and could indeed have hopped on the transporter bridge to get to the ground.
Despite being my favourite ground the match was probably the poorest with Liswerry taken the three points with a 2-0 win.
It was a very well organised and enjoyable South Wales hop.