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Sunday, 18 May 2014 06:32

WHEN WINNING ISN'T ENOUGH (2)

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SATURDAY 17th MAY: the GenQuip Stadium, warm and very sunny.
CWM WELFARE 2 TREFELIN B.G.C. 1 (SWFA Play off, promotion to Welsh League)
More play-off action, but we're three rungs up the football ladder from last night. Today's match is one of the more bizarre features of the pyramid: winning the highly competitive South Wales Amateur or South Wales Senior League isn't enough to earn promotion, as only one Welsh League place is available to south Wales. No matter that none of the west Wales or Gwent champion clubs are eligible for promotion this year, there's still only one place and that means that Amateur League double winners Trefelin must meet Senior League champions Cwm at a 'neutral' ground - although that turns out to be just down the road from Trefelin, at Port Talbot Town's GenQuip stadim.

Sunday, 18 May 2014 06:27

WHEN WINNING ISN'T ENOUGH (1)

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FRIDAY 16TH MAY: Sully Sports Ground - mild and pleasant evening
CARDIFF COSMOPOLITAN 2 CEFN CRIBWR B.C. 1; DYNAMO ABER 8 GLYNCORRWG 0 (SWFA Play off tournament)
A lovely late spring evening and there are few nicer spots to spend it than Swanbridge / Sully between Penarth and Barry. This is the venue used by the South Wales FA for their play-offs for promotion to level 6 of the pyramid, which means local 'district league' champions seeking promotion to the South Wales Amateur or Senior Leagues.

Saturday, 10 May 2014 19:48

A LONG AFTERNOON

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SATURDAY 10TH MAY: The Willows: sunny, very windy.
GRANGE ALBION 2 SULLY SPORTS 3 (after extra time) (CW Bruty Cup final)
Over the course of a season there are days when no match shouts out from the fixture list and there are others when one game's claim for attention is irresistible; and then there are days like today, when I'm metaphorically deafened by games clamouring for attention. But I always had a plan for today, because for some weeks it's looked as though Monmouth Town would need a result today to clinch the Welsh League title, and so I've been planning to head for their match at Cwmbran Celtic.

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 07:15

A DIFFERENT SCRIPT

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MONDAY 5TH MAY : The Cigg-E Stadium, Penydarren Park - sunny, then rain.
MERTHYR TOWN 0 PAULTON ROVERS 2 (Calor Southern League S&W Divisional Play-off)


There's a great deal of expectation, not least on social media, as Merthyr Town's season hinges on one more match. They looked certainties for automatic promotion a couple of months ago, but a few bad away results cost them top spot. Still, they have the alternative route of the play-offs, and got through their semi-final on Tuesday. Now they face Paulton Rovers, at home. The expectation comes from the fact that they finished above Paulton, the fact that the town's rugby team won the Swalec Plate only yesterday, and well... the feeling that, willed on by a big crowd, the Martyrs should be able to deal with a village team from Somerset.

It's a sunny afternoon in Merthyr, not unlike another one 25 years ago: then, my five year-old son and I made this same journey up to Penydarren Park for a vital promotion game. Then, Merthyr overcame the nerves to beat Crawley and earn promotion to the Conference. Bitter-sweet memories, certainly in retrospect, but it was a good day, one that has stayed clear in the memory. For old times sake, I walk up the High Street (not the most direct route from the station now, as the steps up by the old Education building are long blocked off), but that's the way we walked in 1989.

Sunday, 04 May 2014 21:00

TNS - AT THE DOUBLE

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SATURDAY MAY 3RD 2014: The Racecourse - sunny
ABERYSTWYTH TOWN 2 THE NEW SAINTS 3 (FAW WELSH CUP FINAL)
It's been a long week, and I've had enough of travelling. I wouldn't really have chosen a longish trip to north-east Wales today, but I'm not going to miss the Welsh Cup final just because I'm tired. It's an easy train journey anyway (although an expensive one), and by just after 1pm I'm in Wrexham on a sunny and fairly benign spring Saturday. Just time for a quick pint in Wetherspoons' The Elihu Yale before strolling back along Mold Road to the Racecourse.

The Racecourse is a neutral venue, but isn't really anything like a midway point between Aberystwyth and Oswestry. Nor, in my opinion, is it an ideal venue for the Welsh Cup final - too large for a modest crowd, and generally too dated and too depressing. Three sides will be empty, the huge Mold Road stand, the university end stand, and the semi-derelict town end terrace. Just the lower tier of the grim old main stand is in use. But it's what the FAW have chosen to use, so here we are. The crowd is congregating around the main entrance, which these days is hemmed in by the encroaching student flats which have been built on the car park. And to be fair a decent atmosphere is building, with a drum band and dancers and a mini-football game in progress.

By kick off time, the band and dancers have moved inside the stadium, and after they've performed we have the anthem, the team presentations to Chris Coleman and FAW officials, and it's time to get a much-anticipated final underway. It's fair to say that most neutrals would prefer Aber to win today. And although I have nothing against TNS, I'm with them on that: Aber have not won the cup for 114 years, and have given their supporters relatively little success in recent times. There's a feeling that, whereas full-time TNS are undoubtedly the strongest side in the Welsh Premier, maybe this is Aber's year.

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