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Thursday, 15 September 2016 10:17

Llay of the Land

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SATURDAY 3rd SEPTEMBER. The Ring, persistent rain.
LLAY MINERS' WELFARE 0 PENYCAE 3 (FAW Trophy, Round 2)
After watching Wales under 21s lose at Wrexham yesterday evening, the next morning I'm heading back up the borders on the train again. The weather has changed, with heavy rain sweeping in across Wales. It seems likely to be less of a problem in the north-east, according to the forecast, and when news of postponements in the south starts coming in during the morning, I feel glad I'm heading this way.

Thursday, 15 September 2016 09:58

The Welsh Groundhop Comes 'Home'

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WELSH GROUNDHOP 2016 August 26-29th (THE SOUTH WALES ALLIANCE LEAGUE)

The first, tentative Welsh Groundhop took place in the South Wales Amateur League in 2002. Now, sixteen years later, the 2016 event is back 'home' in Cardiff and the valleys. The league has changed (to the Alliance) and so have Groundhops. But all for the better. A great weekend is in prospect (and the weather forecast isn't too bad either). Read on!

Monday, 22 August 2016 07:53

Tough Lessons for the Students

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SUNDAY 21st AUGUST - Cyncoed Campus Stadium, rain.
CARDIFF MET UNIVERSITY 0 BALA TOWN 1 (Dafabet Welsh Premier League)
After a ten-year absence, Welsh Premier football returns to the Welsh capital. A decade has passed since Cardiff Grange Quins' brief and disastrous cameo in the national league, several years more since the more successful era of Inter Cardiff. The latter, in fact, had a Cardiff Met connection in their final year at top level, merging with the college (then UWIC) to avoid folding. Technically, Cardiff Met are the direct successors of that merger, though they really reverted to being just a university club when the top flight place was lost in 2001.

Cardiff Met today are a far more professional outfit than that which was relegated in 2001, on and off the pitch. While Christian Edwards has built a team capable of competing at this level, their new stadium at Cyncoed is at the heart of the university campus and the football side now receives far more active support from the authorities, and they have been promoting this opening fixture heavily to the people of Cardiff.

Given all the publicity and attempts to interest Cardiff City fans, it's a shame that only 221 are here - though this may be deemed a good crowd in the neglected Welsh Premier. It's surely not the lowest Cyncoed will see this season, as it has been swelled by a fair number of groundhoppers from England and quite a few from visitors Bala Town. On the other hand, the weather - persistent rain - might have deterred a few casual 'fair-weather' spectators.

Sunday, 21 August 2016 08:44

The Road to Europe

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SATURDAY 20th AUGUST. Canal Park, blustery showers.
TIGER BAY 2 BLAENAVON BLUES 1 (JD Welsh Cup 1st Qualifying Round)
There seems to be some sort of jinx on the opening round of the Welsh Cup: scheduled for August, it would be reasonable to expect the long list of ties to unfold in pleasant summer conditions, but it rarely turns out that way. Although I'm well used to watching football in all types of weather without (much) complaint, a couple of Welsh Cup qualifying round games played in awful conditions have lodged themselves in my memory - Risca a few years back (cold and wet) and then Penygraig (very, very wet).

And continuing the theme, the weathermen have promised us "an early taste of autumn" today, with high winds and heavy rain. Enough to make me briefly reconsider my chosen tie, at Canal Park, Butetown. Only briefly, though - I decide to don waterproofs and stick with the plan. And, as I walk down towards Butetown from the centre of Cardiff, the weather is every bit as bad as promised.

Thursday, 18 August 2016 07:07

Mission Accomplished

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WEDNESDAY 17th AUGUST. The Willows, humid.
BRIDGEND STREET 3 YNYSYGERWN 0 (Nathaniel Car Sales Welsh League Cup, Round 1)
Another warm day gives way to a muggy evening in Cardiff. Rain is forecast - having watched a game in balmy, sunny conditions last night, it would perhaps be too much to expect that twice in a season. This is not Brazil, after all.

The Welsh League is sensibly using these light summer evenings to get the early rounds of the league cup out of the way, and the draw has rather unkindly brought Neath-based league newcomers Ynysygerwn all the way to the capital on a Wednesday evening. My bus takes 45 minutes to complete the four mile journey into town, so I feel for the west Walians.

At The Willows, £3 admission and £1 for a programme secures my evening's entertainment in friendly and agreeable surroundings - for while Tremorfa isn't scenic, the bright red-painted ground that 'The Mission' have created here enhances it no end. I'm in a crowd of about 60-70 here, while, over at Leckwith, almost 20,000 have chosen to pay up to ten times more to watch City's attempts to score their first goal of the season. I know where I'd rather be.

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