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Saturday, 20 September 2014 20:20


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SATURDAY 20th SEPTEMBER: Parc Bryn y Don, overcast, humid
People choose matches to watch for all sorts of reasons: for some it's simple (their team is playing), for others it's a new ground, or a fixture that looks promising. For me, all of those are considerations at different times - but until today I've never chosen a game because it's close to a hospital !

I'd looked at a few of today's 55 FAW Trophy Round 2 fixtures when the draw was made. It's one of the best fixture lists of the year, lots of obscure venues and odd pairings;  I had a short list, some quite far afield. But my wife's hospitalisation at Llandough on Friday put all football matters on hold for me. Then, when it was clear she'd still be there on Saturday, and that visiting was from 4pm, I looked at the fixtures again - to see what was on along a Cardiff west / Dinas Powys axis. In fact three games were being staged in the village of Dinas - one of those an FAW Trophy tie. So Dinas Powys Athletic v Merthyr Saints it is.

Sunday, 14 September 2014 06:47

Dynamic win among Welsh Cup 2Q upsets

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SATURDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER: Morgan Jones Park, dry and sunny
DYNAMO ABER 3 NEWPORT YMCA 1 (FAW Welsh Cup, Qualifying Round 2)
Choosing a match in these early rounds of the cup is always both challenging and exciting - where will the most interesting games be ? Will there be an upset ? Who doesn't normally issue programmes but will in accordance with cup rules ? Well, at the time of the draw, I had a plan to go to the Wrexham area for Llay Welfare's tie, but that plan has been abandoned for two reasons: firstly, I cannot be away from home for the whole day and need a more local option; and secondly, Llay switched their tie to Penmaenmawr anyway !

Dynamo Aber's belated First Qualifying Round win over Newport Civil Service has, however, thrown up an interesting opportunity very close to home: they're drawn at home, just over the mountain, against Newport YMCA. So a mere hour before kick off I can set off from outside my house on the bus to Caerphilly. A short stroll through the castle grounds brings me to Morgan Jones Park, the home of Dynamo Aber, the latest team to represent the town of Caerphilly in senior football, after winning a treble in local football last season, only their seventh season since formation. Caerphilly has an oddly limited football history - clubs have come and gone, but for over half a century there hasn't been one in the Welsh League. Indeed, today's game has got me wondering when Caerphilly last hosted a Welsh Cup tie... and a bit of research has turned up nothing more recent than Caerphilly United's campaign in 1938-39 !

Friday, 05 September 2014 18:58

Tale of two halves

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SATURDAY 30th AUGUST, Bettws Lane and Rhiw Ddar. Warm and dry.
MALPAS UNITED 3 LLANWERN 2 (FAW Welsh Cup 1st Qualifying Round)
TAFF'S WELL 1 ABERDARE TOWN 2 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Div 1)

Welsh Cup day, and plenty of games to choose from. I've dithered between several ties, rejecting my original choice as no proper programme will be issued. Instead I opt for Malpas United, of the Gwent County League, who have a tough home tie against strong Welsh League Division 2 side Llanwern. They're doing a programme, but the downside s that I have to travel via Newport, where pre-NATO summit protests threaten to cause disruption.

Anticipating the worst, I head early to Newport, avoid the back of the station where I believe the protest march will be gathering, and exit from the front. There are lots of police on duty, wearing unusual special pale blue jackets and caps. There's a much smaller number of protesters, dressed as you'd expect (like a Glastonbury crowd without the tents and backpacks), some carrying colourful flags. They're about as unthreatening as any group of people could be, and none of this delays me in the slightest.

Friday, 05 September 2014 18:54

Half a Hop is better than...

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Sunday 24th / Saturday 25th August - NORTH WALES GROUNDHOP

For several days I didn't expect to be making the trip north this weekend, expecting to be needed as nurse, cook, shopper etc at home. But I've been persuaded to travel up on Saturday night - with cover in place at home - and I'll get to join the Welsh Groundhop for days 3 and 4 after all. Half a hop is better than no hop, even though my record of attending every single Welsh Groundhop game ever staged is now gone. I catch the train to Chester, rendezvous with two coaches of very weary hoppers at 10.45 (they look as tired as I feel), and look forward to Sunday morning.

Friday, 05 September 2014 18:52

Clouds and Silver Linings

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SATURDAY 23rd AUGUST: Cantonian High School, warm, sunshine and showers

I had my Bank Holiday weekend mapped out months ago, but not all plans become reality, even the best laid. Instead of groundhopping in North Wales at Pwllheli, Nefyn and Barmouth today, I'm still in Cardiff. A domestic emergency meant travelling to the groundhop on Friday was impossible, but all is not lost – I can take in a local FAW Trophy game. An easy choice too, a new ground and club for me, only a few miles across Cardiff.

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