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Tuesday, 07 November 2017 14:43

Avoiding the banana skin

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SATURDAY 4th NOVEMBER: Felindre Road, dry and sunny but chilly.
PENCOED ATHLETIC 1 PONTYPRIDD TOWN 3 (JD Welsh Cup Round 2)
With three South Wales Alliance teams at home in today's Welsh Cup Second Round, all underdogs hoping for an upset, it's a question of which one to choose: Caerphilly is closest, but I've been there this season; Penydarren v STM is tempting and with any rain forecast would have been best, but there was a shock when these sides met in the Trophy, so surely it won't happen again? It's so long since I've been to Pencoed that eventually I decide on their game with Pontypridd.

Pencoed is close to Bridgend and on the main railway line - but still manages to be rather poorly served by public transport. One train an hour stops here (several more flashing past), while there's also an hourly bus between Bridgend and Pontypridd. All of which means that I have to travel early and spend almost an hour pottering around. I can now confirm, there's not a lot to see in Pencoed.

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 14:39

Pillaged

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SATURDAY 28th OCTOBER. Waunfawr Park, sunny intervals.
CWMCARN ATHLETIC 1 HAKIN UNITED 8 (FAW TROPHY ROUND 3)
With the weather calming down after its recent excesses, there's a full programme of football going ahead on this, the last Saturday in October. But no need to scan the fixture lists - my choice is already made.

This is the match I should have been at last Saturday. I was glad when it was called off in mid-morning, because I didn't fancy a storm-affected trip to a ground without cover, with every risk of postponement. Today, however, its appeal is irresistible. A couple of buses get me to Cross Keys, where the Sirhowy flows into the Ebbw, and where Gwent League newcomers Cwmcarn Athletic play in Waunfawr Park.

Thursday, 26 October 2017 08:41

Football v Brian

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SATURDAY 21st OCTOBER. Cyncoed Campus - stormy
CARDIFF MET 2 NEWTOWN 0 (JD Welsh Premier League)
Sometimes the weather forecast can't be ignored. The dire warnings of "Storm Brian" arriving hot on the heels of his evil sister Ophelia have already put me off a lengthy trip to north Wales for FAW Trophy action. Then the heavy rain scuppers Plan B as well (Trophy action nearer home) and with games on grass being called off throughout Saturday morning, Plan C has to be 'head for 3G'.

Fortunately there's Welsh Premier action at Cardiff Met, just a 15 minute bus ride away. The bad news is that it's ALWAYS windy at Cyncoed, so what's it going to be like as the worst of Brian's gales start to batter Cardiff? Walking up from the bus, it's quiet on the streets (aside from the howling wind, that is). Roath Park, usually full of walkers, joggers and families, is deserted. Cyncoed campus however, is busier with students involved in various sports.

Inevitably, the weather has an effect on the attendance. A few may have come here because other games were off, but many (even those living on campus) won't have fancied getting a soaking in gale-force winds. Fair-weather fans. Or possibly the sensible ones, I ponder, as I take up position at the back of the stand: hopes of sheltering from the rain are quickly dashed, it's simply blowing in.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017 07:23

THE REAL ROOTS

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SATURDAY 14th OCTOBER. Barry Athletic Ground, mild, cloudy and dry.
BARRY ATHLETIC 2 AFC ABERCYNON 4 (SWFA Senior Cup)
It's always fun to vary the levels of football watched: each has its differing attractions. So from the pinnacle of the game at international level on Monday, five days later I'm down at district level for the South Wales FA Senior Cup, a competition that brings together clubs from ten different local leagues. My chosen tie pits Vale of Glamorgan league against Aberdare Valley League. This is the grassroots - a much over-used term, and indeed often mis-used. Those accustomed to watching English pro football seem to lump all non-league and domestic football together as "grass roots" - indeed I read one blog only this week using this term to describe visits to games at the second tier of Welsh football! I'm six levels lower here today. THIS is he real grass roots. 

Sunday, 01 October 2017 20:18

BRICKING IT

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SATURDAY 30th SEPTEMBER. Clwyedog Park, showery.
BRICKFIELD RANGERS 6 LEX GLYNDWR 2 (WNL Wrexham Area Premier Division Cup)


I'm motivated to get in a longer trip this week, thinking that it will soon become harder when bad weather and postponements start to kick in. After researching a few really long and tricky options, I opt out of a 6am start and settle for 'just' the eight hour round trip to Wrexham, ticking off a rather overdue visit to Brickfield Rangers.

It's a familiar and relatively straightforward journey up through the marches, and it could be a pleasant one too, if only Arriva Trains Wales would provide enough capacity on their busiest services. This one, bound to be busy with Chester racegoers added to the usual Saturday mid-morning peak, is served by a two carriage unit. Predictably, after Hereford, it becomes overcrowded and noisy. It's a relief to step off onto the platform at Wrexham (after battling my way off the train).

After pottering around Wrexham, dodging showers and choirs (there's a street singing festival on) I head a mile or so out of town in search of today's venue. A couple of years ago Brickfield moved from their old base at Court Road playing fields to a new home at Clwyedog Park. The move was barely a mile, but a huge step in terms of the potential. My one and only visit to Court Road left me shocked that such a venue hosted football at step 3 of the pyramid, but Clwyedog Park is already way superior, even though the club regard it as still a work in progress. Cover at both ends will be supplemented with a further seated stand along one side, enabling the ground to meet FAW criteria for the Huws Gray Alliance, the next level up.

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