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Tuesday, 08 May 2018 14:27

Ups and Downs Featured

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SATURDAY 28th APRIL: Bedwellty Road and Bargoed Park. Chilly and damp.
NEUADD WEN 1 BRIDGEND STREET 4 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Div 3)
AFC BARGOED 2 PENRHIWFER 3 (Highadmit Projects South Wales Alliance Div 2)

After days of watching the weather forecast and looking out for a fixture with real meaning, I've settled on a plan: a trip to Bargoed, and two fixtures on either side of the valley. The first game has bearing on both promotion and relegation in the Welsh League, whereas the second is a needed revisit to Bargoed Park, before AFC Bargoed make the seemingly inevitable drop out of senior football. I can only see half of one game, and hopefully almost half of the other, but it will do.


The drawback to my plan is the valley itself, notoriously steep here. If the games are concerned with ups and downs of the footballing variety, my day is going to involve some physical ones. The walk from Bargoed station up to Bedwellty Road needs to be taken gently, with a few stops to gather breath - no problem, I've plenty of time before kick off at the Rec. high on the eastern side of the valley. It's rather chilly up here, exposed to the wind, but the game is on and there's a basic photocopied programme given away with admission, so I can't complain.

Home side Neuadd Wen are in deep relegation trouble. They need points, and they need other results to go their way in the coming weeks, but it's not a lost cause. Bridgend Street are third in the table, still in dogged pursuit of the leading pair, not quite giving up hope of catching them and securing promotion. They too need points and favourable results.


On a tricky surface, the Cardiff side look anything but promotion contenders in the opening minutes and it's no real surprise when the lively home side take the lead. It takes a long time for Street to settle, but as the half progresses they exert pressure and an equaliser looks on the cards. It takes time to come, but eventually Jeff White poaches a close-range goal, and then Lady Luck smiles on them: an unforced handball gifts them a penalty, and it's 2-1 to the visitors as I prepare to leave on the half-time whistle.


Now the 'dash' across to Bargoed: the terrain is the issue, the descent to the valley floor, river and railway way too steep to hurry, and the climb up through Bargoed town to the park a lot steeper (and longer) than I had remembered. It takes twenty minutes, longer than I'd estimated, and at this point I'm becoming less proud of my cunning plan.


However, my doubts subside on arrival at Bargoed Park. Although I've missed over ten minutes of the second half here, I'm so glad I've made this re-visit, because the ground has changed since I was last here. In addition to the fine old stand on the western side of the main dual-purpose rugby and football pitch, odd sections of cover have appeared on two other sides. The rugby club have erected a tall pre-fabricated stand behind the near goal, with high bench seats or steps, and on the east side there is a long scaffold and canvas cover (think Park Hall without the seats).

With just half an hour to wander round and photograph the venue, and with Penrhiwfer already leading poor Bargoed 1-3, I don't really manage to get into the match. Bargoed pull a goal back, and search in vain for an equaliser, but it doesn't come and with this defeat their plight becomes even worse. How sad that such a remarkable venue will be lost to senior football. At least I got here before that happens. And while I'm counting my blessings, there's another: the walk back to the station is all down-hill!

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Read 2122 times Last modified on Tuesday, 08 May 2018 14:33

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