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Wednesday, 17 August 2016 07:49

Here We Go Again!

TUESDAY 16th AUGUST. Maes-y-Coed Playing Fields, sunny and warm
ST. JOSEPH'S 2 CARDIFF AIRPORT 2 (South Wales Alliance Division 2)
And they're off! After a couple of false-starts (UEFA qualifying rounds, friendlies), the 2016-17 season starts here for real. And, it has to be said, it's a gentle start to my next 9 months of travelling to and watching football around Wales - a 20 minute stroll from home through the north Cardiff suburbs, followed by a couple of hours in shirtsleeves on a balmy Cardiff evening. I'll remember this fondly when slogging to north Wales in freezing mid-winter.

This fixture has ended up as the only one in the capital tonight, so it selected itself. But within half an hour of arriving at the Joes' St. Cenydd Road ground on the Heath/Llanishen borders, I'm reminded why I so enjoy grassroots football (this is level 7 in Wales): I've met a couple of fellow neutrals who, like me, appear with regularity at any game within reach; I've chatted to someone I worked with over 20 years ago but haven't seen since; and then to a South Wales FA councillor. One dominant theme in all these conversations is the August Bank Holiday groundhop - 11 games in 4 days in south Wales, all in the South Wales Alliance. More of that here in due course - first let's deal with tonight's opener:  

Published in Football
Sunday, 24 January 2016 09:16

Bun Fight is too much for Libs

SATURDAY 23rd JANUARY. The Oval, Ynyshir - sunny, dry.
YNYSHIR ALBIONS 3 CANTON LIBERAL 1 (W John Owen Cup, Round 3)
Once again, the weather causes uncertainty as we approach the weekend; now it's back to the risk of waterlogged pitches, following heavy overnight rain on Thursday. But a dry 36 hours helps, and despite a few postponements, most of the news on Saturday morning is positive. So it's a welcome return to choosing a game, rather than settling for whatever's left on.

After a long and only partially successful north Wales trip last week, I'm staying closer to home. There were plenty of options today, including FAW trophy games, but the W John Owen tie at Ynyshir has caught my eye, mostly because these two teams are in fine form in the South Wales Alliance's Second and First Divisions respectively. It's also a very long time since I've been to Ynyshir.

The bus takes well over an hour to make its way from Cardiff up the Taff, Rhonndda and Rhondda Fach valleys to Ynyshir, but it drops me close to the ground with ample time before the early 1.30 kick-off, time to enjoy the fine afternoon and potter in the streets and paths around - and above - the Oval. This is a narrow and steep valley, with the village mostly on the west bank of the river and the hillside rising steeply on the eastern side, just one or two terraces high on the slopes. The football ground nestles in the valley floor, between the river and the course of the railway - long gone, and replaced in recent times by the valley relief road. It's a good venue for this level, with one entrance gate, and wide terrace steps on the southern side, partially covered. It's a welcome surprise to find a smart programme on sale from the gateman: already this is looking like a good choice of match. As kick-off approaches, the crowd grows to around 60, almost all home supporters.

Published in Football
Thursday, 27 August 2015 08:40

Libs sound a warning

WEDNESDAY 26th AUGUST: Lawrenny Avenue, sunny intervals.
CANTON LIBERAL 8 CADOXTON BARRY 1 (South Wales Alliance League, Division One)
Thankfully, a brief improvement in the wet August weather means that taking in a midweek game isn't out of the question, and there's an interesting match nearby in the new Alliance League: the two clubs who won the Second Divisions of the South Wales Amateur and South Wales Senior Leagues are meeting at Canton Liberals' ground adjacent to the Cardiff Athletics Stadium, both having been placed in Division One (the middle section) of the new league.

Published in Football
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