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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]

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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