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Sunday, 23 October 2016 14:34

Visiting Hinterland

SATURDAY 22nd OCTOBER: Uppingham Playing Fields - sunny but a chilly breeze from the east.
BORTH UNITED 4 BUILTH WELLS 0 (Spar Mid Wales Division 2)
The last weekend of Arriva's cheap autumn fares. A fine weather forecast. Just has to be a day for a long-distance trip, and the fixture lists have yielded just the answer, a visit to one of the dwindling number of towns in Wales that I've actually never visited.

However, I feel as if I know Borth. The acclaimed bi-lingual Welsh noir detective series 'Hinterland' or 'Y Gwyll' featured the town and its station in one memorable episode. Alighting at the station, after my five hour journey (bus and two trains) everything is instantly recognisable - especially the eerie, atmospheric marshland across the line, Cors Fochno, the largest lowland bog in Britain. It's actually part of the Dyfi Biosphere, the only UNESCO Biosphere reserve in Wales, and on a fine, sunny day like today it's not that scary. But I can imagine what it's like at other darker, mistier and stormier times. The railway station building - transformed by 'Hinterland' into the territory of a creepy station attendant with hobbies of model train layouts and serial killing, is now a community-run railway museum, not at all creepy in fact.

The town is remarkably linear - the High Street sandwiched between the sea and pebble beach on one side, and the railway and bog a mere hundred yards or so inland. About half a mile south of the station, in this strip of land, sits the football ground. Surrounded by drainage ditches, it's clearly a venue at constant risk of flooding - as one official says, the sea, the Dyfi estuary and the bog see to that. Thankfully, the dry spell recently means the pitch is in good order today.

It's an attractive little ground, with a blue-painted brick stand backing onto the community centre and a tea bar caravan alongside. Hard-standing along just the stand side, the rest grass. Neatly railed on both sides and the southern end. No programme, but a collection taken for admission.

Today's game has significance at the top of the Mid Wales Second division: Borth lie second, level on points and goal difference with leaders Kerry, but having scored and conceded fewer goals. If they win today - and do better than Kerry - they'll go top for the first time in their three seasons in the league. Builth Wells, who have been top already this season, are third in the table. I'm expecting goals - both sides scored four last week. Before the game, Borth officials rue their record against Builth - they've never beaten them, and last year surrended a 3-0 lead to lose 3-4! Confidence not exactly running high, despite Ian Lewis receiving the Spar Div 2 Player of the month for Aug/Sept on behalf of absent Gwion Pugh-Jones before kick-off.

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