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Sunday, 24 April 2016 07:48

Ups & Downs

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]

Published in Football
Sunday, 20 March 2016 09:26

A Day of Contrasts

SATURDAY 19th MARCH - Mathern Athletic Ground, dry & cold.
MATHERN FC 2 RTB EBBW VALE 0 (Autocentres Gwent County League Division 2)
A week without rain means I can choose from a full football programme this week, but it has to be somewhere that doesn't involve travelling through the horrors of Cardiff on a Six Nations matchday. The solution is to go east via Newport and the Gwent County League game at Mathern appeals - visitors RTB are way out in front in Division Two and Mathern is a ground I haven't visited before.

Mathern lies a mile or two west of Chepstow, just off the old A48 Newport to Chepstow road, so a straightforward bus journey from Newport to Pwllmeyric, then a leisurely stroll south from the main road. Bus times mean I'm in the village an hour before kick off, so I while away some time with a pint in the pleasant Millers Arms - all is going well, a lively, warm pub with Butcombe bitter and Bath Ales on tap - but as 2.30 approaches a big screen goes up, chairs, tables and customers are required to move, and the pub readies itself to watch the rugby that I've spent two hours travelling to get away from. Time to move on.

The Athletic Ground sits just round the corner, at the edge of the village. It's a delightful rural setting, even though the proximity of the M48 motorway is given away by the big blue sign poking up above the hedge on the far side. The railed, level playing surface is overlooked from the east end by a clubhouse / pavilion, elevated on a bank with a small flight of steps down to pitch level. On the hill behind it, the whole scene is in turn overlooked by the listed, neo-classical mansion Wyelands House. It occurs to me what a varied county Gwent is - today's visitors, whose name carries the initials of the old Ebbw Vale steelworks, have travelled down from scarred, post-industrial Blaenau Gwent to this peaceful rural Monmouthshire setting. [Follow "Read More" below for full article]

Published in Football
Saturday, 04 April 2015 20:12

Abergavenny clinch Gwent County title

SATURDAY 4th APRIL: Pontymister Recreation Ground - mild, sunny, chilly breeze.
AC PONTYMISTER 2 ABERGAVENNY TOWN 6 (Gwent County League Division One)
We've reached that point in the season when you look for a game with something on it - cup ties, promotion or relegation deciders, they're all fine. On this Easter Saturday, there's no real shortage of such games, but the one I want to see involves Abergavenny Town, still unbeaten in the league and needing a win to clinch the Gwent County League title mathematically. The bonus is that they're away to AC Pontymister, easy to reach, with the guarantee of a quality programme, and, as it happens, a ground on which I've not previously watched a match.

Published in Football
Sunday, 15 February 2015 09:27

Excelsiors snatch Abertillery derby honours

SATURDAY 14th FEBRUARY: Abertillery Leisure Centre, overcast.
ABERTILLERY BLUEBIRDS 3 ABERTILLERY EXCELSIORS 4 (Gwent County League Division 1)
A local derby on a ground I haven't visited before is appealing, and when south Wales suffers a spell of heavy rain on Friday and into Saturday, the fact that it's on a 3G surface is the clincher for this fixture. The only downside is that it means a less than straightforward journey, for the north Gwent town of Abertillery is poorly served by public transport - the railway is several miles away, there's no direct bus from Cardiff, and only a limited and slow one from Newport.

A combination of rail to Llanhilleth and a bus connection gets me there, and once in Abertillery Town centre it's a simple walk up to the Leisure Centre in Tillery Street. This is the Bluebirds' new home, after they left the delightful Cwmnantygroes ground in Six Bells in 2014, a year in which they also suffered relegation from the Welsh League to the Gwent County. There they've joined neighbours Excelsiors, who also had an extended spell in the Welsh League (under various names) before relegation a few years ago. So this season brings town derbies in league football for the first time in many years, and the first one up at Excelsiors' Woodland Field ended 2-2 earlier in the season. The Excelsiors are a little better placed in the table now than their hosts, but in a local derby that may not count for much.

Published in Football
Saturday, 15 March 2014 21:43

THE SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL ?

SATURDAY 15TH MARCH
King George's Field: mild, sunny.
NEUADD WEN 0 SEBASTOPOL 1 (The Autocentres Gwent County League Div 3)
The final day of the Six Nations rugby, Wales at home in Cardiff and all that entails: all week I've been considering my options for a game this Saturday that doesn't involve travelling to or through the city centre. Predictably, all the obvious choices, especially those near the top of the pyramid, have to be ruled out for that reason. A late decision then, to dip into the Gwent League and visit a new ground - heading away from Cardiff. What clinches it is the fact that the visiting team at my chosen game is Sebastopol FC - worth making the effort to see them not only because they are top of the Gwent Third Division, but also because we're currently hearing an awful lot about Sebastopol (or rather Sevastopol, as we're now supposed to call the capital of Crimea).

Published in Football

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