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Thursday, 26 October 2017 08:41

Football v Brian

SATURDAY 21st OCTOBER. Cyncoed Campus - stormy
CARDIFF MET 2 NEWTOWN 0 (JD Welsh Premier League)
Sometimes the weather forecast can't be ignored. The dire warnings of "Storm Brian" arriving hot on the heels of his evil sister Ophelia have already put me off a lengthy trip to north Wales for FAW Trophy action. Then the heavy rain scuppers Plan B as well (Trophy action nearer home) and with games on grass being called off throughout Saturday morning, Plan C has to be 'head for 3G'.

Fortunately there's Welsh Premier action at Cardiff Met, just a 15 minute bus ride away. The bad news is that it's ALWAYS windy at Cyncoed, so what's it going to be like as the worst of Brian's gales start to batter Cardiff? Walking up from the bus, it's quiet on the streets (aside from the howling wind, that is). Roath Park, usually full of walkers, joggers and families, is deserted. Cyncoed campus however, is busier with students involved in various sports.

Inevitably, the weather has an effect on the attendance. A few may have come here because other games were off, but many (even those living on campus) won't have fancied getting a soaking in gale-force winds. Fair-weather fans. Or possibly the sensible ones, I ponder, as I take up position at the back of the stand: hopes of sheltering from the rain are quickly dashed, it's simply blowing in.

Published in Football
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 09:01

It's Been 11 Years

TUESDAY 20th SEPTEMBER: Cyncoed Campus, a fine evening.
CARDIFF MET 2 NEWTOWN 1 (Dafabet Welsh Premier League)

I've been up to Cyncoed more times in the past month than the whole of last season. Such has been the lure of Welsh Premier football in Cardiff, plus a couple of UEFA games. But I haven't yet seen Cardiff Met win a Welsh Premier match - in fact no Cardiff team has won a national league fixture in the capital since October 2005 (that was the ill-fated Grange Quins).

But there is hope: Cardiff Met actually won away on Saturday (at Llandudno) and clearly have a chance tonight against visitors Newtown. The university, with its students now back on campus, has promoted this game and is hoping for a big attendance. Half an hour before kick off, it seems they are going to be rewarded - a fair turnout of regulars, neutrals, officials plus some students, and the latter group start to arrive in bigger numbers as 7.45 approaches. At one point a queue is even spotted [the attendance is later confirmed as a ground record, 428].

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
Sunday, 03 May 2015 07:28

Saints complete the Welsh treble

SATURDAY 2nd MAY: Latham Park, chilly and damp.
NEWTOWN 0 THE NEW SAINTS 2 (Tenovus Welsh Cup final)
There's no mistaking the top game in Wales this weekend, the cup final given added interest this year by Newtown's first appearance since 1897 and the decision to depart with recent tradition and hold the final on the ground of one of the finalists. Although it's perfectly possible to watch the game live on S4C, there is no substitute for being there, so I set off early on the train, into England via Hereford and Shrewsbury and back down into mid Wales. I leave Cardiff in steady rain, with a forecast of more, and first impressions on stepping off the train in Newtown are that the wind is even chillier here, but the rain is little more than the odd spot of drizzle. Either way, not the fine spring day we all hope for.

Published in Football

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