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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]

Now, there's a full illustrated report on the weekend and the five Carmarthenshire League games involved, in issue 189 of our printed magazine. This site exists to complement (and promote) the magazine, and isn't going to steal its thunder, so please buy a copy!

However, maybe this is a good place to deal with some of the common objections to watching games at this level. Firstly, that the grounds "are all fields" - well, anyone who says this probably doesn't completely 'get' what makes groundhops tick. Yes, if you insist on a ground having permanent spectator facilities, buildings etc. village grounds fall short - drive by any of the five venues on any other day and all you will see are a pavilion and a pair of goalposts. But on a groundhop matchday, these beautifully situated, scenic places can be transformed to a hive of activity, with stalls, marquees and above all a three-figure crowd, and it's the occasion, not the basic facility, that makes the day. You only had to be at Carmarthen Stars, or Abergwili, or Johnstown this weekend to see this demonstrated.

Secondly, there's the playing standard: no-one is going to pretend that the lower reaches of county league football are anything but recreational football. Skill levels and fitness are variable, but you will see flashes of ability (a few of the goals scored at the weekend were outstanding, and so were a few saves). And above all you get genuine effort by local players, and give me that any day over the cossetted and overpaid mercenaries of the professional game.

The Carmarthenshire groundhop, blessed by fine weather and just about well-enough supported, provided an enjoyable couple of days in a lovely part of the country. I for one hope we'll be back for more next year.

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