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Sunday, 13 September 2015 12:19

Echoes of Coal and Steel

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SATURDAY 12th SEPTEMBER. Vicarage Hill, Sunny and mild.
RHOSTYLLEN FC 1 BRYMBO 0 (JD Welsh Cup, 2nd Qualifying Round)
As ever, an early round in a national cup produces plenty of tempting matches near and far. After visiting one of the south Wales clubs from the bottom of the Welsh pyramid in the previous round, I choose a similar tie in north-east Wales in the 2nd Qualifying Round. The similarities go further: like AFC Perthcelyn, Rhostyllen FC are a reformed club which has prudently adopted a slightly different name from its predecessor. They've joined the North East Wales League, the first step back to the WNL Wrexham Area League.

The village of Rhostyllen is only a couple of miles south of Wrexham, its by-pass well served by buses heading for Oswestry and Llangollen. This was the village that served Bersham Colliery, which once supplied coal to Brymbo steelworks among others. The colliery closed in 1987 but there's little to tell its story a quarter of a century on: a bus stop on the main road is named the Colliery Garage, and some pit head equipment remains - it was intended to form the centrepiece of a mining museum, but lack of interest meant the project never came to fruition. Today, there's nothing in the village centre to tell its back story or point out anything of note, not even an information board.

The revived football club has however put the colliery winding gear and a coal truck on its crest, with a pleasing nod to the village's heritage. This crest adorns the cover of Rhostyllen FC's first match programme, together with that of today's visitors Brymbo (no longer Brymbo Steelworks FC, that also having closed a quarter of a century ago).

Saturday, 05 September 2015 18:53

Cakes and Ale - and lots of Football

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WEEKEND 28-31 AUGUST - NORTH WALES GROUNDHOP
Friday 28th August
August Bank Holiday weekend is synonymous with the Welsh Groundhop and, for me and many other lovers of football in Wales, there's only one place to be this weekend: north Wales. The pilgrimage starts on Friday with a train trip to Chester, whose university accommodation is the base for the weekend's excursions co-ordinated by Groundhop UK. It's damp as I leave Cardiff but the forecast for the north-west is hopeful - the weather really does matter when you've got eleven games coming up.....

Thursday, 27 August 2015 08:40

Libs sound a warning

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WEDNESDAY 26th AUGUST: Lawrenny Avenue, sunny intervals.
CANTON LIBERAL 8 CADOXTON BARRY 1 (South Wales Alliance League, Division One)
Thankfully, a brief improvement in the wet August weather means that taking in a midweek game isn't out of the question, and there's an interesting match nearby in the new Alliance League: the two clubs who won the Second Divisions of the South Wales Amateur and South Wales Senior Leagues are meeting at Canton Liberals' ground adjacent to the Cardiff Athletics Stadium, both having been placed in Division One (the middle section) of the new league.

Sunday, 23 August 2015 07:56

The Road to Europe Starts Here

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SATURDAY 22nd AUGUST: Deep Duffryn - humid.
AFC PERTHCELYN 1 LLANTWIT FARDRE 2 (JD WELSH CUP, 1st Qualifying Round)
Another week, another national cup competition gets underway for 2015-16. This time it's the Welsh Cup, so technically the road to the Europa League starts here, though the 118 clubs in action today will realistically be hoping for a run through a few early rounds, enough to earn a share of the prize money in the 'Proper' rounds, rather than a tilt at European glory.

With 58 ties in almost every part of Wales, there's no shortage of choice: there are numerous games that appeal - many of these at clubs which wouldn't normally issue programmes. But adverse weather, which so often afflicts this first stage of the cup, means postponements are possible, and I'm not travelling too far afield. The Perthcelyn tie is one within easy reach and with 'options' if the weather prevails. The home side are the only entrant from the Aberdare Valley League, hosting a team from three divisions higher in the pyramid, and on a ground I've not visited before.

Sunday, 16 August 2015 08:46

'New' North End off to a winning start

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SATURDAY 15th AUGUST: Penygaer playing fields, dry and cloudy.
PORTH TYWYN SUBURBS 2 NORTH END 6 (FAW Trophy Round 1)
After another three-and-a-half week break since my last game, it's time to go to football again, because the domestic season is starting. Most of the main leagues in Wales get underway today, with some interesting matches, but the first round of the FAW Trophy has greater pull. I hadn't picked a game in advance, but on returning from holiday yesterday a serious look at the ties caused one to jump out: Porth Tywyn Suburbs v North End. Two famous names from west Wales football (or rather its recent past), and not regular Trophy entrants. A quick look at Twitter revealed that North End have reformed, and this will be their first competitive game: decision made then.

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