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Friday, 27 January 2017 08:29

Issue 195 - Feb./March 2017

WF 195 cover

ISSUE 195 - publication date 27th January 2017

In this issue we have extensive features on three clubs: 


We also examine the vexed question of the best format for the Dafabet Welsh Premier League - Super 12 or Sweet Sixteen?

There is also a look at the planned changes to UEFA competition formats from 2018 and how they may affect Welsh clubs.  

In our popular Looking Back history columns, we revisit news and action from 50 years ago this month (1966-67) and25 years ago this month (1991-92)

Plus all our regular columns on major leagues, regional round-up, programme notes, international scene and other news and views.

Available to order for £3.60 - email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  for online options or send cheque to 57 Thornhill Rd CARDIFF CF14 6PE



Published in Publication Dates
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 15:17


TUESDAY 12th JULY - Park Hall, mild and dry
THE NEW SAINTS 0 APOEL NICOSIA 0 (UEFA Champions League, 2nd Qualifying Round, 1st leg)
A return to Oswestry after the Saints' first round win, but a very different match in prospect. Thankfully, it's a very different kind of day too, no approaching rainstorms. Just an approaching giant of European football, serial Cypriot champions Apoel, with a team stuffed with international players. It's clear TNS will face a very real role reversal compared with their games against Tre Penne.

And, of course, Craig Harrison's game plan is very different for this tie. TNS are cautious, well-organised and wary of the opposition, who demonstrate that they have plenty of skill, co-ordination and pace. TNS reach half time at 0-0, just a couple of half chances to show for the 45 minutes, and some dangerous situations successfully defended.

The second half is the same: solid defending, frustrating the visitors, but little threat, the forward players Quigley and Brobbel mostly battling unsuccessfully for scraps. Unable to hold the ball up in their opponents' half, TNS face a never-ending succession of attacking waves. But the clock ticks down and the score remains 0-0.

A goal-less draw is a huge achievement for the Welsh champions, considering how much more experienced and powerful Apoel clearly are. The game plan is intact - for no away goal has been conceded, and TNS can go to Cyprus with all to play for. It's a slim chance, but one goal out there would be very interesting indeed.

Published in Football
Sunday, 10 July 2016 07:01

Cold Welcome in a Hot Country

TUESDAY 5th JULY. San Marino Stadium, dry and humid.
S.P. TRE PENNE 0 THE NEW SAINTS 3 (UEFA Champions League, 1st Qualifying Round, 2nd Leg)

San Marino isn't the easiest place to get to from Cardiff. My journey for Tuesday evening's return fixture in the Champions League starts at 5.30 a.m. on Monday, and involves a taxi, flight to Milan, airport express transfer, a three hour train journey to Milan, and a bus to San Marino. With an overnight stop in the handsome seaside city of Rimini, we finally arrive in San Marino on Tuesday morning.

San Marino city perches on top of a mountain, overlooking the rest of this tiny landlocked republic spread out in the foothills. It's a lovely place to while away most of Tuesday, and whilst sightseeing we keep bumping into the TNS official party. When we stop for lunch, the very friendly multi-lingual waiter guesses we're here for the game - he turns out to be a Tre Penne fan. I ponder the contrast - nobody in Oswestry town centre last week even seemed to know there was a game on. The home fan is sure his team will "lose heavily" tonight....  

Published in Football
Wednesday, 29 June 2016 13:29

The Underdog Bites Again

TUESDAY 28th JUNE - Park Hall Stadium, heavy rain.
THE NEW SAINTS 2 S.P. TRE PENNE 1 (UEFA Champions League, 1st Qualifying Round, 1st Leg)

It's not yet July, the Euro 2016 tournament is only just past the half-way stage. Wales are still in it, and almost everyone's focus is on matters in France. But the UEFA Champions League 2016-17 tournament starts today - the first largely overlooked steps on a road leading to the final in Cardiff next summer.

Welsh champions The New Saints came through the first qualifying round last year - quite comfortably in the end, after a tricky first leg away in the Faroe Islands. This year their opponents are from sunnier climes - S.P. Tre Penne of San Marino. This season, TNS have the home leg first, so an opportunity maybe to ensure the away game next week is pressure-free. At least, that's how I'm thinking as I head up the English border towards Oswestry. (If rest of article not visible, click READ MORE below)

Published in Football

WEDNESDAY 22nd JULY: Sóstói Stadium, Székesfehérvár. Sweltering heat, no breeze.
FC VIDEOTON 1 THE NEW SAINTS 1 (after extra time) (UEFA Champions League, 2nd Q. Rd, 2nd leg)

I'd booked my travel to Hungary before the exact match details were fixed, so I had made provision for being in Székesfehérvár on either Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. That means travelling out on Monday, and in the absence of anything more convenient, I'm flying from Gatwick - a long journey from Cardiff via Reading, Gatwick, Budapest Airport, Budapest city and finally arriving in the city of Székesfehérvár via train, roughly an hour's travel south-west of Budapest. But it all goes more or less to plan and I'm installed in my hotel in the evening, pondering how deserted it seems, when a big coach pulls up and the TNS team and management pile out. Apparently their supporters are not with them - their trip being based in Budapest, where there's undoubtedly more to do for the visitor (I opted for convenience, staying in Videoton's home city, reckoning I can easily get to Budapest for sight-seeing anyway, which I do on the Tuesday).

The big problem with this trip is the heat: temperatures in high thirties, scorching sun, no air. Just walking around, even in the shade, is an effort, and it slows down my sightseeing, both in lovely Budapest on Tuesday and in pleasant Székesfehérvár on Wednesday, match-day. If it's bad for me, what must it be like for the players preparing for a big game ? Mercifully, the match itself has been scheduled for 8.30 p.m., so at least the shadows are starting to lengthen as I set of for the Sóstói Stadium, on the other side of the town centre, under the railway and down the final approach road with a cemetery on either side. Even so, what would otherwise have been a 25 minute walk is a cautious 50 minute amble, with frequent water stops.

Once at the ground, the challenge is to establish the whereabouts of my press accreditation: an odyssey the length of the ground, escorted inside, then out again, finally leads to a tiny hut hidden by trees in a field behind the far end of the stadium. All is fine from then on, and once inside, there is respite from the heat, and a chance to soak up the pre-match atmosphere from the press area high in the large stand, looking out over the vast uncovered bowl. Way up behind the left hand goal, a small group of TNS fans unfurls a huge Welsh flag and set up their base high in the open seats.

Published in Football
Thursday, 09 July 2015 07:00

TNS sweep aside Faroese champions

TUESDAY 7th JULY - The Venue, Park Hall - dry, breezy.
THE NEW SAINTS 4 B36 TORSHAVN 1 (UEFA Champions League 1st Qualifying Round, 2nd Leg)

Back in Wales, and more normal temperatures, this week brings a chance to see The New Saints and Bala Town in their home legs, and tonight it's the Saints, defending a 2-1 win from their match in the Faroes. Hopes are very high of another Welsh win and progress to the next qualifying round, an unusual sensation to savour.
It's good to see TNS able to play these European games at Park Hall again (the ageing artificial pitch had not become unsuitable for UEFA games, but has now been replaced with a brand new one). The Venue is already busy as I arrive after the walk from Gobowen station a couple of hours before kick-off, and hospitality etc. is already underway - TNS have the facilities to exploit these occasions well. Those who've purchased gold or silver tickets can relax inside the centre before the game - but those with just match tickets are stuck with pretty limited facilities inside the ground - burger bar, portable toilets etc. Still, on a fairly pleasant, dry summer evening, that's not the hardship it might have been in more extreme conditions.

Published in Football

Two weeks after the final act of the 2014-15 Welsh season - the promotion play off in south Wales - the curtain went up on the 2015-16 season with the much-awaited UEFA Champions League and Europa League qualifying round draws. In between, in the absence of a proper close season, the summer solstice seemed to mark the changing of the football seasons too: as the days begin to shorten, thoughts turn to autumn and winter, but long before that we have some summer action in Europe coming up.

It's an unfortunate feature of the UEFA calendar that the smallest nations in its "family", those who contest these earliest rounds of the two cups, are given barely a week to plan the biggest games of their year, and arrange tricky overseas travel for parties of players and officials. UEFA can of course point to the six-figure distributions to all competing clubs as justification for the demands, but surely it's not unreasonable to ask for just another week or two between draw and action?

Fans too face the challenges of arranging trips into Europe at short-notice, so the days following the draws are typically involve a day or so of uncertainty about dates, venues and kick off times, followed by frantic searching for and booking the best travel options. It's only when all that is in place that we can start to assess our hopes and expectations for the four clubs representing us in Europe's premier club competitions.

Published in Football
Friday, 15 August 2014 06:21

ISSUE 175 (August 2014)

WF 175 cover

Welsh Football Issue 175 - published 14th August 2014

Contents include:

UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Regions Cup reports

2014-15 previews and fixtures for Welsh competitions

Spotlight on Llandrindod Wells

Stats feature - best & worst records in Wales 2013-14

Footballers from Wales and the Victoria Cross - part 1

Merthyr Football League centenary

Available at reduced price £2.55 inc postage.

Enquire for bank transfer or Paypal options.





Published in Publication Dates
Friday, 25 July 2014 06:44


TUESDAY 22nd JULY : The Corbett Sports Stadium, Rhyl - hot and sunny.
THE NEW SAINTS 0 SLOVAN BRATISLAVA 2 (UEFA Champions League 2nd Qua. Round, 2nd Leg)

Getting to The New Saints European games is usually easier than this: their home base in Oswestry, and even their usual alternative big game venue of Wrexham, are both very accessible from the south and from England. But tonight, their Champions League game requires another journey west, to Rhyl, because the Park Hall 3G pitch requires replacement to obtain a UEFA licence, and The Racecourse is unavailable. So I have had to arrange another overnight stop in Crewe: as for the Bangor trip recently, I drop my bags off there before catching the train along the north Wales coast, excitement mounting, for tonight's game has taken on extra significance after the Europa League disappointments, and TNS's strong performance in last week's first leg. If they can pull off a win tonight, 2014 can go down in Welsh Premier history as a turning point. If not.... well, let's not think about that unless we have to.

Published in Football

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