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Sunday, 01 May 2016 07:39

Better Late than Never ?

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SATURDAY 30th APRIL. The Rock, heavy rain and sunny intervals.
CEFN DRUIDS 0 CAERNARFON TOWN 7 (Huws Gray Alliance)
Three and a half months since I set off to watch the Druids vs. the Canaries in a crucial top-of-the-table Alliance clash, I set off to try again. It would have had bearing on the title race when postponed - frostbound - in January, but it's just as significant today: Caernarfon can clinch the title if they win, whereas - because Caernarfon failed to obtain a Welsh Premier licence - Druids can virtually clinch promotion with three points today. Although, in both cases, they have two more games after today to get the points they need.

It's also a good day to be getting away from Cardiff nice and early, as travel in and through the cty will again be disrupted by a rugby event - this time two regions games in the stadium. What were the marketers on when they dreamed up the ludicrous "Judgement Day" label for a couple of end of season local derbies? Still, like most things WRU, the public seem to swallow it - probably because it's another excuse for an all-day binge.  [article continues - if not visible click "Read More" below]

Sunday, 24 April 2016 07:48

Ups & Downs

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Week Commencing 18th April 2016:  it's the silly season, the clocks have gone forward, pitches have dried out, and almost every day brings early evening kick-offs. I managed three games this week, but the main subject of this entry is Saturday's action - with a midweek summary below.

 SATURDAY 23rd APRIL - Tranch recreation Ground, sunny intervals.
TRANCH 3 PENYGARN & TREVETHIN 2 (Gwent County League Div 3)
As promotion and relegation matters start to come into clearer focus, followers of Welsh football try to calculate the likely consequences at all levels of the pyramid. Recently, the position regarding relegation from the Welsh League Third Division has begun to look worrying for the Gwent section of the pyramid, with possibly three or even four Gwent sides in line to be dumped down into the Gwent County League this summer. And that means that, several levels down in the Gwent County Third Division, relegation carnage is looming, with the bottom six or seven at risk of being relegated to district leagues. A glance at the league tables reveals that the town with the most to lose in all this is Pontypool. [If rest of article is not visible, please click Read More below]

Sunday, 24 April 2016 07:42

Fields of Dreams

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15-17 APRIL 2016

WELSH SPRING GROUNDHOP - CARMARTHENSHIRE LEAGUE

After several enjoyable seasons visiting real grassroots venues in the Ceredigion League, the organisers of these events, Groundhop UK, have decided to dip a toe into the neighbouring Carmarthenshire League, and of course I have to be there. [if rest of article is not visible, click on Read More below]

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SATURDAY 9th APRIL. The Bridge Meadow - chilly, but dry and sunny
GOODWICK UNITED 2 HAKIN UNITED 1 (Pembrokeshire Senior Cup final)

Hop on a train going east from Cardiff and it will take a couple of hours to get to London: you're in another world, faster, busier, more connected. Travel west instead, and it will take longer than that two hours to get to Pembrokeshire. But we sometimes underestimate how far, and how different again, the far west of Wales actually is, in culture, outlook, and - crucially - connectedness, or rather lack of it.

Pembrokeshire's geography isolates it, which can be both good and bad in many walks of life. As this is a football blog, that's the only area to discuss here, and geography (physical and social) shapes Pembrokeshire football more than any other county, though south Ceredigion shares more than a few similarities. Most notably, Pembrokeshire football almost a self-contained world: few clubs ever dip their toes in national competitions, few players can stomach the travelling and sacrifices required to play further up the Welsh or English pyramid systems, so as a result there's a thriving county league with competitions that are not overshadowed in any way. There's a sense of recognition and support for local clubs in the wider community that you don't get in the cities, the valleys or even much of mid and north Wales; and the local press - print and online - gives coverage that clubs in more populous areas can only dream of. For the season's showpiece, the Senior Cup final, they go to town - multi page spreads, previews, predictions and pen-pictures.  [article continues, click on 'Read More' if not visible]

Sunday, 03 April 2016 13:31

Going to the Dogs

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SATURDAY 2nd APRIL: Fairfield Lane, sunny and mild
CARDIFF AIRPORT 4 HIRWAUN SPORTS 0 (South Wales FA Intermediate Cup semi-final)
Another Saturday morning of anxiously peering out at the rain and monitoring Twitter feeds for news of postponements. Mid-morning brings bad news from numerous south Wales grounds, twelve hours of steady rain rendering them unplayable again, though the afternoon forecast remains positive. During this flurry of postponements I've been pessimistic about my chosen game, but the reliable South Wales FA don't announce any problems with their two semi-finals, so it seems I'm in luck. Even so, I set off early, with plans B and C ready in case things go wrong.

I've chosen the Cardiff Airport v Hirwaun Sports semi-final for the principal reason that it's taking place on a ground I haven't visited before. I only found out a month or two ago that Rhydyfelin AFC had moved away from their Upper Boat venue to a re-furbished ground half a mile along the road. The project might have been mentioned in the local press in RCT, but no wider than that, and the change doesn't seem to have registered with other sources (e.g. new season directories and the groundhopper grapevine). In fact it was only passing the ground by chance in February that brought it to my notice. A visit to a Rhydyfelin home game might have been an option - but I've noticed there are none of those scheduled in the Alliance League.  [article continues - click Read More if necessary]

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