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Sunday, 10 July 2016 07:01

Cold Welcome in a Hot Country

TUESDAY 5th JULY. San Marino Stadium, dry and humid.
S.P. TRE PENNE 0 THE NEW SAINTS 3 (UEFA Champions League, 1st Qualifying Round, 2nd Leg)

San Marino isn't the easiest place to get to from Cardiff. My journey for Tuesday evening's return fixture in the Champions League starts at 5.30 a.m. on Monday, and involves a taxi, flight to Milan, airport express transfer, a three hour train journey to Milan, and a bus to San Marino. With an overnight stop in the handsome seaside city of Rimini, we finally arrive in San Marino on Tuesday morning.

San Marino city perches on top of a mountain, overlooking the rest of this tiny landlocked republic spread out in the foothills. It's a lovely place to while away most of Tuesday, and whilst sightseeing we keep bumping into the TNS official party. When we stop for lunch, the very friendly multi-lingual waiter guesses we're here for the game - he turns out to be a Tre Penne fan. I ponder the contrast - nobody in Oswestry town centre last week even seemed to know there was a game on. The home fan is sure his team will "lose heavily" tonight....  

Published in Football
Thursday, 09 July 2015 07:00

TNS sweep aside Faroese champions

TUESDAY 7th JULY - The Venue, Park Hall - dry, breezy.
THE NEW SAINTS 4 B36 TORSHAVN 1 (UEFA Champions League 1st Qualifying Round, 2nd Leg)

Back in Wales, and more normal temperatures, this week brings a chance to see The New Saints and Bala Town in their home legs, and tonight it's the Saints, defending a 2-1 win from their match in the Faroes. Hopes are very high of another Welsh win and progress to the next qualifying round, an unusual sensation to savour.
It's good to see TNS able to play these European games at Park Hall again (the ageing artificial pitch had not become unsuitable for UEFA games, but has now been replaced with a brand new one). The Venue is already busy as I arrive after the walk from Gobowen station a couple of hours before kick-off, and hospitality etc. is already underway - TNS have the facilities to exploit these occasions well. Those who've purchased gold or silver tickets can relax inside the centre before the game - but those with just match tickets are stuck with pretty limited facilities inside the ground - burger bar, portable toilets etc. Still, on a fairly pleasant, dry summer evening, that's not the hardship it might have been in more extreme conditions.

Published in Football

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