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Wednesday, 25 May 2016 19:16

Graveyard of Dreams?

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TUESDAY 24th MAY - Parc Newydd, a warm, sunny evening
GIANTS GRAVE 2 YNYSYGERWN 2 (Neath League, Premier Division)
Sometimes a fixture just jumps off the page because of its significance. The climax to the Neath League title race - and its implications for promotion from West Wales to the Welsh League - have drawn attention from far and wide, and tonight's the night when it all comes to a head.

Here, then, is the proposition: the two championship rivals, Giants Grave (reigning champions) and Ynysygerwn, can each clinch the title if they win tonight. If they draw, Giants Grave have one more match after this, and the title will remain undecided. If Ynysygerwn finish top, they may automatically secure the West Wales FA's nomination to the Welsh League (although even that's a debatable point, as conflicting pyramid rules seem to exist). But if they finish second, they definitely face a play-off for promotion with the Swansea League runners-up, Team Swansea. Intriguing, no ?

Sunday, 22 May 2016 08:33

Finals & Play-offs

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THE (BUSY) WEEK OF SUNDAY 15th MAY to SATURDAY 21st MAY  - SAM CORNISH CUP, SOUTH WALES PROMOTION PLAYOFFS & GWENT SENIOR CUP....

I've reached the stage of the season where I'll only be tempted out by cup finals, play-offs and title deciders - no meaningless end of season fixtures for me. I've already got a short-list of probable and possible games for the next fortnight - but it was still with interest - and no little surprise - that I read an announcement by the Cardiff Combination League that their Sam Cornish Cup final would be staged on this Sunday afternoon, at Cardiff City stadium. Duly added to the list. [Article continues - click READ MORE below if not visible] 

Monday, 09 May 2016 08:47

Final after final...

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FRIDAY 6th MAY - Alyn Park, dry and overcast.
RHOSTYLLEN 2 ASTON PARK RANGERS 0 (Horace Wynne Cup final)

& SATURDAY 7th MAY - Afoneitha, humid and hazy.
LLANUWCHLLYN 3 CEFN ALBION 2 (Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division One Cup

A third trip to north-east Wales in the space of a week - maximising use of an Arriva Trains rover - means another couple of cup finals, starting at Mold Alex's ground - a venue I haven't visited since the early 1990s. The ground is recognisable, although the stand and the adjacent iron shelter weren't here then, nor the clubhouse building near the entrance gate (much smarter on the inside than outside).  [article continues, click on Read More below if not visible]

Friday, 06 May 2016 08:02

"3-0 to the Rhondda Boys"

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WEDNESDAY 4th MAY - The White Tips Stadium, mild dry evening
CARDIFF AIRPORT 0 TREBANOG 3 (South Wales FA Intermediate Cup final)
The weather has been unusually kind for one of the SWFA's showpiece finals, for it's a dry and pleasant evening half-way up a Taff Vale mountainside at Treforest's compact White tips Stadium. And a large crowd has turned out too, steadily filing through the clubhouse to the ground, handing over £2 for a card programme on their way (it's good that the SWFA produce a programme for the final, so many leagues and associations don't).

The final pits two local league champions against each other, Rhondda double winners Trebanog meeting Vale of Glamorgan double winners Cardiff Airport. The Rhondda contingent seems to be the larger, and certainly the noisier, with chants of "Tre-, Tre-, Trebanog" ringing out from the start of the game. And the fans' enthusiasm is clearly matched by the Trebanog players, in their navy kit with distinctive hooped socks, as they hurl themselves with 100% commitment into early challenges. It's an effective tactic, as the early action is mostly dominated by Trebanog, the Airport players having no time to settle on the ball and consequently conceding possession and territory.  [article continues, click Read More below if not visible]

Wednesday, 04 May 2016 10:08

The Double Treble

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MONDAY 2nd MAY. The Glyndwr Racecourse Stadium - hail, rain & sunny intervals.
AIRBUS UK BROUGHTON 0 THE NEW SAINTS 2 (JD Welsh Cup Final)
Back on the northbound train, for the second time in three days, and heading for Wrexham, the chosen venue for this year's Welsh Cup final. I'm ambivalent about the choice, as neither finalist has a huge supporter base, and the locals in Wrexham are indifferent to Welsh football - this means only one side of the Racecourse will be open (the antiquated main stand). The FAW have done everything possible to promote the game via social media, but once again huge sections of mainstream media ignore the occasion - and the potentially historic achievement if the Saints can secure the domestic treble for the second year running.

Before the game, there's plenty of activity in what's left of the Racecourse car park, with a merchandise stall doing reasonably brisk business in a range including friendship scarves, until increasingly heavy showers start to send everyone dashing for cover. We hope the showers will pass...

Inside, as kick off approaches, the atmosphere on the stand side is good, with the lower tiers full - the green TNS supporters to the town end, the blue Airbus fans towards the scoreboard end, and neutrals scattered around. The pre-match formalities (anthem, presentations etc) take place in drier conditions, and the game starts with TNS kicking towards the empty stand at the scoreboard end, although in fact most of the early action takes place in front of the decaying terrace at the other end. Airbus are taking the game to the holders, and are creating - but not taking - chances. [article continues, if not visible click on Read More below]

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