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The end-of-season review edition of WELSH FOOTBALL is available to order.

Publication Date (provisional): 31st May 2017

Full review of the 2016-17 football season in Wales, covering all competitions. Our unique Honours supplement contains ALL final tables and cup final results from the Welsh pyramid.

Other features include:

JD Welsh Cup final in words & pictures

Winners' Gallery - photos of dozens of 2016-17 champions & cup winners  

Annual Programme Awards

Spotlight on Spar Mid Wales League champions RHAYADER TOWN 

 

Welsh Football is available at many independent Welsh bookshops, and at 3 outlets in Cardiff: WH Smith in Albany Road, Caban in Pontcanna, and the Millennium Centre bookshop in Cardiff Bay. 

Or order for postal delivery: £3.60 for this issue or £27 for a whole year's subscription.  Send a cheque to Welsh Football, 57 Thornhill Road CARDIFF CF14 6PE or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  for online payment options. 

 

Published in Publication Dates
Monday, 01 May 2017 11:10

Bala end TNS monopoly

SUNDAY 30th APRIL. Bangor University Stadium, Nantporth, dry and mild.
BALA TOWN 2 THE NEW SAINTS 1 (JD Welsh Cup final)
After the hors-d'oevre of the Huws Gray Cup yesterday, I move on to the main course: the Welsh Cup final. Enough has been said already about the hugely inconvenient venue for the final - although everyone I speak to pre-match has more to say about it.

For me, it's meant an overnight stay and a journey west on the first train available. Many other neutrals won't have been able to go to such lengths. And, based on the expected storyline, you could ask why they should - for who can really envisage anything other than TNS swatting the Lakesiders' challenge to record their third consecutive Welsh treble? Even the Bala faithful are not oozing confidence - "if it was anyone else..." Indeed, having failed to beat the Saints in 29 previous encounters, the omens aren't good. They can only hope that today the jinx will be broken. They aren't short of support, the travelling contingent swelled by locals and neutrals keen to see someone (anyone) other than TNS lift some silverware.

The preliminaries are quite a show for the live TV audience (as well as those of us here in person). Flags, the cup on its plinth, child mascots, ceremonial arch, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (sung live), VIP presentations (Chris Coleman among them), handshakes, team photos... but this show is soon over and the players are probably relieved to get on with the real business.

Published in Football
Monday, 22 August 2016 07:53

Tough Lessons for the Students

SUNDAY 21st AUGUST - Cyncoed Campus Stadium, rain.
CARDIFF MET UNIVERSITY 0 BALA TOWN 1 (Dafabet Welsh Premier League)
After a ten-year absence, Welsh Premier football returns to the Welsh capital. A decade has passed since Cardiff Grange Quins' brief and disastrous cameo in the national league, several years more since the more successful era of Inter Cardiff. The latter, in fact, had a Cardiff Met connection in their final year at top level, merging with the college (then UWIC) to avoid folding. Technically, Cardiff Met are the direct successors of that merger, though they really reverted to being just a university club when the top flight place was lost in 2001.

Cardiff Met today are a far more professional outfit than that which was relegated in 2001, on and off the pitch. While Christian Edwards has built a team capable of competing at this level, their new stadium at Cyncoed is at the heart of the university campus and the football side now receives far more active support from the authorities, and they have been promoting this opening fixture heavily to the people of Cardiff.

Given all the publicity and attempts to interest Cardiff City fans, it's a shame that only 221 are here - though this may be deemed a good crowd in the neglected Welsh Premier. It's surely not the lowest Cyncoed will see this season, as it has been swelled by a fair number of groundhoppers from England and quite a few from visitors Bala Town. On the other hand, the weather - persistent rain - might have deterred a few casual 'fair-weather' spectators.

Published in Football
Sunday, 12 July 2015 06:49

Drama and Heartbreak at the Seaside

THURSDAY 9th JULY: Belle Vue, sunny and mild.
BALA TOWN 2 FC DIFFERDANGE 03 1 (UEFA Europa League 1st Qual. Rd., 2nd Lg)
Forty-eight hours after travelling north to see TNS in the Champions League, (and less than 24 hours after getting home) it's time to do it all again: destination Rhyl, to see if Bala can overturn that 3-1 deficit from the first leg of their Europa League match.

It's a fine, sunny day, without the excessive heat of last week, so conditions should suit both sides better. Bala Town have taken over Belle Vue for the evening and the ground is already lively as the first spectators start arriving an hour and a half ahead of the match - merchandise, programmes and raffle tickets all on sale just in side the entrance; UEFA and media types bustle about importantly. There's an air of expectation, almost quiet optimism I feel, among the Welsh contingent. Maybe the feel-good factor from TNS and Newtown pulling off 3 wins so far is infectious, but having seen Bala lose last week, I feel any respectable result tonight will be satisfactory - but an aggregate victory is too much to expect. When asked, I rate the chances as no more than 15-20%....

Published in Football

THURSDAY 2nd JULY - Stade Municipal, Differdange. Weather conditions: heatwave.
FC DIFFERDANGE 03 3 BALA TOWN 1 (Europa League First Qualifying Round, 1st Leg)

Eighteen days after watching my last game of 2014-15, I'm setting off to watch my first of 2015-16: as usual, the new season is heralded by a burst of early July activity in the early rounds of the UEFA competitions and, since the draw last week, the Welsh Premier representatives and their followers have been hastily preparing for the first legs. In my case, I've chosen to watch Bala Town away this week, in Luxembourg, and - rightly or wrongly, I've decided to travel by rail. It seemed like a sound plan, saving significantly over flight costs, but that was before the Calais migrant and ferry worker strikes started disrupting Eurostar.... and before a heatwave started.

After several days of anxiously checking news sites and Eurostar service updates, it's good to get the journey underway on Wednesday, with a full day's travel ahead. Despite the heatwave that has descended on northern Europe making it a less than ideal way for travelling anywhere (Wednesday in fact sets a new July record temperature in Britain), things go smoothly enough after all: the disgruntled ferry workers refrain from blocking the tunnel today, so by late afternoon I'm in Belgium and heading south-east on the slow, stopping train to Luxembourg as it trundles out through the Brussels suburbs, depositing workers and day-trippers at every stop. Four hot and stuffy hours later, the service crawls into the Grand Duchy and, sadistically, dawdles for a final, agonising twenty minutes outside Luxembourg station before releasing its few remaining weary passengers into the humid night air. After a cooling bath and the news that TNS have won in Torshavn, my spirits are fully recovered.

Thursday 2nd July dawns with Luxembourg on red alert because of the heat and humidity: temperatures in the high 30s celsius have caused the government to put the country to implement its plan for the "canicule" (literally dog-day), involving mobilising squads of paramedics, red cross and social workers to visit elderly and vulnerable citizens and help them survive the hot, polluted days and nights.

In Luxembourg city, it's a day for taking things slowly, staying in the shade, drinking copious amounts of mineral water; all of which I do, before having to set off again on a train, in the peak mid-afternoon heat - destination Differdange, a town in the south-west of the country, in the 'Valley of the Red Rocks', an industrial area close to the French border. For an industrial centre, Differdange and its surroundings seem pleasant and semi-rural: the town centre is relaxed, the main road from the station to the square dotted with quiet bars. I settle in one for a cool beer, watching various unfamiliar French types of horse-racing on the TV.

The twenty minute stroll to the Stade Municipal is an ordeal because of the heat and humidity, but it's flat and straightforward. The stadium is adjacent to a large open-air swimming pool, which has predictably drawn huge crowds today. Smaller numbers are filtering into the football stand an hour before the match, all making immediately for the shaded upper rows. Around 75 Bala fans are here to show support with flags and songs, having made their way here across England, France and Belgium, variously by air, sea, rail and road. They're hopeful of course, but seem realistic too - Luxembourg may not be a football power-house, but their clubs are more experienced in Europe than ours and their league is probably a little stronger. Differdange are European veterans, the present club and its antecedent "Red Boys Differdange" having campaigned on this stage over forty years. Bala will do well to keep the tie alive for the second leg, I feel. Although I'm always an advocate of having a go and not showing too much respect - in view of the heat (still 36 degrees at 7pm, kick off time) the Welsh side need to keep things tight early on to settle into the game.

Published in Football

Two weeks after the final act of the 2014-15 Welsh season - the promotion play off in south Wales - the curtain went up on the 2015-16 season with the much-awaited UEFA Champions League and Europa League qualifying round draws. In between, in the absence of a proper close season, the summer solstice seemed to mark the changing of the football seasons too: as the days begin to shorten, thoughts turn to autumn and winter, but long before that we have some summer action in Europe coming up.

It's an unfortunate feature of the UEFA calendar that the smallest nations in its "family", those who contest these earliest rounds of the two cups, are given barely a week to plan the biggest games of their year, and arrange tricky overseas travel for parties of players and officials. UEFA can of course point to the six-figure distributions to all competing clubs as justification for the demands, but surely it's not unreasonable to ask for just another week or two between draw and action?

Fans too face the challenges of arranging trips into Europe at short-notice, so the days following the draws are typically involve a day or so of uncertainty about dates, venues and kick off times, followed by frantic searching for and booking the best travel options. It's only when all that is in place that we can start to assess our hopes and expectations for the four clubs representing us in Europe's premier club competitions.

Published in Football
Saturday, 01 March 2014 20:32

NO SPRING SURPRISE

SATURDAY 1ST MARCH: Aberaman Park - dry and clear
ABERDARE TOWN 1 BALA TOWN 2 (Welsh Cup, Quarter-final)
St. David's Day: the first day of spring (officially) but not always the first spring day. However, this year, there's no mistake, St. David's Day really is a spring day. The fixture list (or at least the FAW's bag of balls) has decreed that I will head up the Cynon Valley today to see if Aberdare Town, south Wales's last hope in this year's Welsh Cup competition, can overcome Welsh Premier visitors Bala Town, and this means taking my familiar walk across north Cardiff to catch the train at Llandaf; through Caedelyn Park - early daffoldils opening (and maybe even more significant, a junior football match in progress, for Cardiff Council has allowed parks pitches to be used for the first time this year); along Church Road - cherry trees in blossom. And the sun shining all the way. What's not to like about today ?

Published in Football
Saturday, 07 December 2013 20:01

SILENCE (NOT JUST A MINUTE)

SATURDAY 7TH DECEMBER: Jenner Park. Drizzly.
RHOOSE 1 BALA TOWN 6 (Welsh Cup Round 3)
The last 32 of the cup - fifteen ties to choose from (the sixteenth having been played on Friday night); but I'm not able to head off on a long journey this week, so the choice is narrowed down to two south Wales ties, Aberdare v Prestatyn, Rhoose v Bala.

Published in Football

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