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Saturday, 02 July 2016 16:11

Nomads undefeated in Europe....

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THURSDAY 30th JUNE - Belle Vue, wet and cold
GAP CONNAH'S QUAY 0 STABAEK 0 (Europa League 1st Qualifying Round, 1st leg)

48 hours on, same train, same journey up the Welsh/English border. Today's destination Rhyl, whose ground is being used by Connah's Quay for their European debut against Stabaek of Norway. Out in Scandinavia, the Welsh Premier's other two Europa League entrants face Swedish opposition. Tough draws for all three, against clubs in the middle of their domestic seasons.

Rhyl has, in the past, hosted plenty of these games, and usually there's some evidence in the town that there's a match on. Not so today, and once again it seems the European Championships are occupying the minds of public and press alike, leaving these club games overlooked. Indeed, as the torrential rain lashes down on Belle Vue an hour before kick off, the ground is as quiet as I have known it for such a game. The weather again hardly helps, nor does the clash with the first Euro2016 quarter-final. Still, it could be worse - if it had been Wales playing their quarter-final in France tonight, there wouldn't be anyone here. Finally a queue briefly forms at the turnstile, as the small but noisy Stabaek contingent arrives.

The teams emerge with the downpour still at full force, Connah's Quay in red and Stabaek in blue. The visitors' line up is unexpectedly varied - an Indian goalkeeper, Africans from Ivory Coast and Ghana, an Albanian - and a Scottish manager. My initial impression is that it is a very young side indeed.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016 13:29

The Underdog Bites Again

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TUESDAY 28th JUNE - Park Hall Stadium, heavy rain.
THE NEW SAINTS 2 S.P. TRE PENNE 1 (UEFA Champions League, 1st Qualifying Round, 1st Leg)

It's not yet July, the Euro 2016 tournament is only just past the half-way stage. Wales are still in it, and almost everyone's focus is on matters in France. But the UEFA Champions League 2016-17 tournament starts today - the first largely overlooked steps on a road leading to the final in Cardiff next summer.

Welsh champions The New Saints came through the first qualifying round last year - quite comfortably in the end, after a tricky first leg away in the Faroe Islands. This year their opponents are from sunnier climes - S.P. Tre Penne of San Marino. This season, TNS have the home leg first, so an opportunity maybe to ensure the away game next week is pressure-free. At least, that's how I'm thinking as I head up the English border towards Oswestry. (If rest of article not visible, click READ MORE below)

Sunday, 19 June 2016 07:11

From Differdange to Glynneath

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The 2015-16 season is over.  In recording my travels over the eleven months from July 2015 to May 2016, I wrote 44,000 words (some of which appeared in blog form) and took hundreds of photographs. 

Now, for just £5.50, this travelogue is available in CD format, as a PDF 'book' containing the narrative, and 386 accompanying images - a complete record of my season and 84 matches in many fascinating places, and at all levels. From Differdange in July to Glynneath in May, from Champions League to parks football, it's all here.  

All proceeds go 100% towards maintaining this website and publishing the national football magazine of Wales. 

To order your copy, send £5.60 cheque to Welsh Football, 57 Thornhill Road, Cardiff CF14 6PE or alternatively transfer £6.00 via PayPal to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Thursday, 09 June 2016 07:11

Lost in France?

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My travels are over for the season. After a hectic but enjoyable May, when a massive backlog of fixtures had to be cleared, players, officials and followers of local football can at last relax.

But the irony is that for many Welsh football followers, the travels of a lifetime are just starting. A veritable invasion of France is underway, with Welsh fans heading by train, boat, car and plane towards Bordeaux, the venue for Wales's first group game in Euro2016, against Slovakia on Saturday. Several Welsh football correspondents will be there, but I'm going to watch the games on television, and prepare to resume my travels in three weeks' time, when the Welsh clubs enter the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.

For those heading to Bordeaux, Lens and Toulouse for the Wales group games, having secured tickets and sorted travel and accommodation plans, there will still be a need to work out some finer details: how best to travel to the stadium ? What else is there to do while we're there? Where are the fan zones and best sports bars?

Fortunately, help is at hand. The fans won't have to find the tourist information centres, try to remember enough French or hope that English is spoken, because everything they need has been conveniently assembled on one website. GoEuro has a handy guide to each of the nine host cities, covering local information on transport, fan-zones and bars, and with links to useful tourist resources. There's even a handy city ranking, rating the cities on their attractiveness, affordability, accessibility and football cultures.

Anyone going - or already there - should have these links on their smartphone - it could make the trip smoother and even more enjoyable.

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 ?

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