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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


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]

Sunday, 27 March 2016 20:16

Honours Even

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SATURDAY 26th MARCH: Jenner Park, wet & windy
BARRY TOWN UNITED 2 CARDIFF MET UNIVERSITY 2 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Div 1)
For a capital city, with a decent transport infrastructure, Cardiff is often a hard place to travel through on a Saturday: after weeks of disruption because of Six Nations rugby, our city is rugby-free at last. But it has managed to find an even more disruptive event to blight another Saturday - a "world" half-marathon that involves closing many city streets, disrupting public transport and predicted to bring gridlock.

It's tempting once again to avoid the centre of town, but Jenner Park is clearly the place to be this week, with a top of the table Welsh League fixture, so the cross-city journey must be made. I forsake the buses and travel by train leaving hours to get to Barry in time for kick off, but it's almost impossible to board my local train service - just room to squeeze onto the two carriages already crammed with a mixture of runners and spectators. It gets worse as we progress to Cardiff, particularly when a number of family groups decide to launch themselves and their buggies into the few inches of space at each door. The match had better be worth it after this.   (article continues - click on 'Read More')

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