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Monday, 29 April 2019 10:06

The Power of Football

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SUNDAY 28th APRIL. Leckwith 3G, weather sunny and calmer.
BANGLADESH 3 YEMEN 2 (Cardiff Community Cohesion Cup final)

We all have matches that we plan to attend for weeks or more; But sometimes those we chance upon are just as rewarding, and my interest was piqued by a tweet a few days ago encouraging people to attend the final of the Cardiff Community Cohesion Cup.

I had been vaguely aware of this tournament before - it's been running several years, organised by South Wales Police with the aim of involving Cardiff's ethnic minorities. The winners will get to play against a police team, in a showpiece game at Cardiff City Stadium, and this year the two finalists are teams from the Bangladeshi and Yemeni communities. So far, so intriguing, but a bonus is that it's being played on the outdoor 3G at City's Leckwith complex, a pitch I've never previously seen a game on.

Sunday, 17 March 2019 15:22

No Stopping the Mountain

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SATURDAY 9th MARCH. Northop Hall Pavilion - chilly wind.
FLINT MOUNTAIN 4 BRYMBO VICTORIA 1 (Mike Beech Memorial Cup semi-final)

A week of wet weather, and a forecast of much worse over the weekend, would normally keep me close to home and looking for fixtures on 3G. But I'm already committed to going north and joining the North West Counties League groundhop in Merseyside on Saturday night, so I've researched travel times for a few options, including the 3G at Airbus. In fact, by Friday morning, with rain pouring in Cardiff, I'm inclined to believe that's where I'll end up.

But my preferred plan was to visit a new ground, and to catch up with a club that is enjoying great success in north-east Wales football this season: Flint Mountain. My enquiries to the club about prospects for the match bring a confident response - the pitch is fine, no problems expected.

Sunday, 13 January 2019 13:43

You Can't Beat a Proper Cup Tie

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SATURDAY 12th JANUARY. The Muga, mild.
PLAS MADOC 3 BERRIEW 2 (FAW Trophy Round 5)

For the second week in a row my Saturday morning and evening will be spent travelling up and down the so familiar English border line on Transport for Wales trains. The weather's been unusually peaceful for January and neither trip was threatened by postponement. All good, although last week's outing was a bit of a drag, to be honest: a dull routine league game between two rusty sides, on a dull day in a rather dull place. I didn't write it up as a blog - there just wasn't much to say and I didn't want to waste time re-living it.

But I have higher hopes of today's excursion. For a start, it's the FAW Trophy, and knock-out football tends to produce more drama. Secondly, it's an inter-region game, North East v Central Wales, between teams that haven't met before. Thirdly, the home team, Plas Madoc, are a bit of a sensation - after winning the North East Wales League in only the first season, they're unbeaten so far in the league (Wrexham Area Division One). I'm looking forward to watching them.

Monday, 19 November 2018 13:24

The Idyll

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SATURDAY 17th NOVEMBER. Leyton's Field, a sunny, chilly autumn day.
TINTERN ABBEY 1 ABERTILLERY EXCELSIORS 7 (Gwent FA Amateur Cup Round 2)

I start most seasons with a short-list of a few grounds I really want to visit; and this year, Tintern Abbey was near the top. For years I had a vague plan to visit some time, but hadn't researched exactly where the football club played. It was only when blogger Laurence Reade posted pictures from a game in January that I truly understood the scenic splendour of this grassroots ground, and that vague plan became a priority. When Tintern got through one round of the county cup, and were drawn at home to Gwent County 'giants' Abertillery Excelsiors, I put the date in my diary and prayed that the weather wouldn't intervene. My prayers seem to have been answered.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018 10:17

The Case of the Moveable Kick-Off time

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SATURDAY 27th OCTOBER. Gresford Colliery Club, cold but sunny.
OFFA ATHLETIC 1 FC NOMADS 3 (FAW Trophy Round 3)

The last 64 of the FAW Trophy, 32 games to choose from. Of course, there are plenty closer to home than the one I've picked, but travelling north has been out of the question for four weeks (the dreaded rail replacement buses) so I feel in need of a long distance away-day while the weather still holds and grounds aren't waterlogged. By this stage of the competition, there tend not to be many venues I haven't visited before, but Offa Athletic's Gresford Colliery Club ground is one on my list.

The weather has changed since last week. It's bitterly cold as I set off for Wrexham, the thermal layers making an early seasonal reappearance. But it's dry, so no need to worry about postponement. Instead, I have to worry about actually getting to the game - my train turns out to have been delayed at Carmarthen and turns up nearly half an hour late at Cardiff. For the next two hours, instead of sitting back and enjoying the journey up the borders, I'm fretting that I may miss the connection to Wrexham, which, the train conductor insists, will not be held if we're late. Contingency plan: catch the next Wrexham service an hour later and dash by taxi, just enough time to make the 2.30 kick off.

In the end, I make my connection at Shrewsbury with five minutes to spare, shivering on the platform in an icy wind. So it's a more leisurely journey up to Gresford, via the bus towards Chester. A short stroll around the road interchange and into Bluebell Lane and the Gresford Colliery Club.

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