Tuesday 18 December 2007

Aberaeron 2 Abermule 3

J.Emrys Morgan Cup 2nd Round

3rd November 2007

Att: 55 (est)

Admission: by donation

Programme: No

In recent years Aberaeron (Ceredigion League) have regularly swept most before them in Central Wales Intermediate football, but it appears their recent domination is coming to the end of it's cycle. Visitors Abermule (Montgomeryshire League 1) just about deserved their narrow victory in this excellent cup tie, sealing the win with an absolute screamer from a near impossible angle in injury time.

The ground is basic, there's no denying that, but it's on an unusual site in modern Britain, being right in the very centre of the small town, surrounded on all sides by spectacular town houses (Georgian, I think) and bustling shops and pubs. So refreshing to see such a facility not disappearing under the guise of "redevelopment".

There are no facilities to speak of, the players get changed in the leisure centre about a 5 minute walk away and have to walk over the main road in the town centre to reach the ground. The pitch is neatly bush lined all around though, giving the feel of an enclosed ground and there's the unusual sight of a turnstile at the main entrance to the ground, which is used for local cup finals. There isn't even a rope or dugouts, but don't let that deter you, it's a fine and slightly unusual (but very pleasant) setting.

The small harbour town of Aberaeron is well worth a couple of hours of anyone's time, with no shortage of fine views, architecture, walks and plenty of places to eat and drink. A visit, on a fine day, comes highly recommended.

Monday 29 October 2007

Students Pass with Flying Colours

UWA 3 The New Saints Reserves 1
Spar Mid Wales League
Att: 18
Admission: Free
Programme: No

The large old cricket stand that used to dominate the Vicarage Fields ground of Aberystwyth University has sadly finally succumbed to the ravages of time, leaving behind what is now a very basic venue for this level.

There is still a good vantage point to be had from the Western end of the ground (where the stand used to be and the changing rooms/cricket pavilion still stands, as you can watch the game from a good elevated position but the ground itself is just part of the large university sports field and in many ways is rather unispiring. Both sides are roped and posh perspex dugouts installed, but that's about it really.

The pitch though is big and immaculate and where the facilites may have lacked, the standard of the game more than made up for it. This was one of the best Mid Wales League games I've seen, two sides playing good football on a good pitch and well officiated to boot.

Still, it's a tick, just two left to do in that league now (Carno & Newbridge).

It is worth noting that during the later stages of the season UWA play their home games at their Blaendolau complex in Llanbadarn Fawr (when Vicarage Fields is being used for cricket). This is a large playing field with multiple football and rugby pitches and no spectator facilties whatsoever. Do not get caught out (and yes, I did, 5 years ago, hence the need to go back.)

Not the most inspiring venue by a long shot, but the football more than compensated. It'll be interesting to see how UWA fare this season as they certainly impressed on the field.

Monday 22 October 2007

I've been trying to ring you - there's no ref, the game's off...

Llanllyfni 2 Beaumaris Town 4
Gwynedd League Eryri Shield 1st Round
Att: 80 ish
Admssion: £1 (by raffle ticket in second half)
Programme: Fanzine style monthly programme from tea bar, full colour, 16pp £1

With our original plans thrown into disarray by the lack of a referee at Talysarn, it was a case of any port in a storm at 1-30pm on Saturday. Luckily, Llanllyfni is no more than a couple of miles from Talysarn and arriving at 1-40 it was good to see both teams out warming up for the 2pm KO.Ths is one of those grounds that you'd struggle to find if it wan't a match day. The goals, pitch perimeter fence, dugouts & advertising boards (banners to be precise) all disappear once the game is over, leaving an open field behind the village hall. However, with everything set up, it feels very much like a proper venue, the only thing it lacks is cover.

To say they are only in the 3rd season in existance, Llanllyfni come across as a very well run and organised club. All club officials have club jackets, there are plenty of sponsors, they have an excellent website, there's a well stocked tea bar up and running (in the village hall kitchen, behind the Western goal, from where the monthly programme/fanzine is available), 1st goalscorer tickets are sold before the game and a gate is taken during the second half. Oh and they video the games as well!

A crowd of around 80 watch the game, which, at this level, is more than commendable.

The ground is essentially the public park behind the village hall, but with everything "assembled", it feels so much better than this. The views, as is oft the case in this part of the world, are spectacular, with the dramatic slopes of the Nantlle Valley providing a stunning backdrop in the lowering Autumn sun.

The game itself was rich in entertainment, the homesters just about deserving their 1-0 ht lead, but the visitors from Anglesey hit a rich vein in the second half scoring four straight without reply, until 'llyfni got a second in stoppage time.Talysarn will have to wait for another day. In hindsight, I'm rather glad there was no ref available for their cup tie; what we got as a last minute back up more than compensated in every way.


New Quay 9 Llandysul 0
Costcutter Ceredgion League Division 1
Admission: Free
Programme: No
Att: 25

My first toe dipped into the Ceredigion League top flight (don't you wish all top divisions were still numbered 1?) and one that gave mixed feelings: the game itself was poor, but that's no fault of the home side who could only beat what's put in front of them, whilst in contrast the ground, for it's level (level 4), was a corker.

I'll get the game out of the way first: Llandysul, once a top side in this league, are down from running three senior sides to one these days and at KO time had one player at the ground. The manager arrived with the kit just after three and his first question to the ref was "how many do we need for a game"...not a promising start...as it turned out they had 9, including a keeper in his 40's who so obviously wasn't - the first four shots on goal all went in - a tenth player arriving half an hour in. At this stage it was 5-0 and the game, was over (it was never a contest in the first place). If venturing to this league, I would be wary if Llandysul are the visitors, I'll say no more than that.However, New Quay did look a decent side, although it's hard to judge on an afternoon like this.

The ground though was terrific - what an unexpected gem. The striking feature is the dressing room block which is highly individual, almost impossible to describe, an architect's whim maybe! It's meant (I think) to resemble to waves of Cardigan Bay (onto which New Quay fronts), but it is highly unusual. The good thing is that the overhangs at the front provide cover for 40-50 people and you're right next to the pitch so a good view is assured, there is a decent amount of hard standing down this side and around the inland end of the ground also - no need for wellies or walking boots here. The rest of that side of the ground is well elevated giving terrific views of the actionThe vast majority of the pitch is properly railed and the whole ground is pretty much tightly enclosed. So tight in fact, that the rail down the other side of the pitch is only useable to around halfway, where it meets the perimeter fence and further progress is impossible!

I suspect many of the grounds in this league will be rather more basic, but this is one that deserves inspection if you're ever down that way. I will certainly take a further look soon, but will choose my game a little more carefully!

For info: the league has a highly impressive and useful website with up to date fixtures, tables, ground/sec contacts etc at:


Llanystumdwy (Gwynedd Lge) 4 Pwllheli Res (Caernarfon League) 1 (aet)
North Wales Coast FA Junior Cup 2
Att: 70 (est)
Gate: £2
Prog: No (last issued 03-04 to the best of my knowledge)

In it's own way this is an absolute gem: rather than being in the wild NW of Wales it feels more like a county league ground in the Costwolds than on the edge of some of the most stunning mountain scenery in the UK.

The village itself is rather quaint - it's main claim to faim being that it's the birthplace of David Lloyd George - the ground, well, let's just say you need to know where it is!

Leaving the Porthmadog to Pwllheli road (A497) at the first exit for Llanystumdwy, you drive into the centre of the village (what there is of it) and as you pass over a small river bridge you will see a church immediately on your right. The ground is behind the church, access to which is down a narrow access track (a road it most certainly isn't!) between the church and the river through some pretty dense trees and bushes. You could, technically get a vehicle down here, but everyone, including the players and officals, park on the roads in the village.

A short walk along the track brings you to the ground and it's idyllic, £2 gets you access (and NO-ONE gets in without paying here - free loaders beware, she's atkes no prisoners!) and it's all quite wonderfully rustic and rural. The pitch surround (3 sides) is rustic fencing, neat new dugouts are in place and the one open end (behind the church) has a tea bar up and running when we arrive half an hour before KO. The whole ground is pretty much surrounded by trees, so little in the way of distant views, but the immediate surroundings, on an unfeasibly pleasant early October afternoon, were a delight.

The game itself almost produced a shock, as the visitors held a 1-0 lead for much of the game before conceding with 10 minutes to go. ET had an air of inevitibility about it as the vistors ran out of juice, but it was a good contest, played in a great spirit with good local support.

Again, this is very much "Welsh" territory, but I'm pleased to say that once again, all the people we spoke to couldn't have been more friendly and welcoming (but don't argue with the lady on the gate, you'll lose).


Bontnewydd 1 Bodedern Res 3
Gwynedd League
Admission: Free
Prog: No
Att: 30 (est)

Slightly odd one this....the pitch itself is excellent and is very neatly railed on 3 sides with masses of advertising boards, the dugouts are also very smart, trimmed in the club colours of claret and blue. The dressing rooms though are rudimentary in the extreme (shipping containers) and other than the team management there is no-one from the club there; so no gate/ prog/ refreshments /raffle /collection ....nowt!

The setting is very pleasant, out beyond the Eastern fringe of the village on the road to Caeathro, Llanrug and Bangor, tree lined on one side and surrounded by farmland with very good views.

The game itself was decent enough though the scoreline slightly flattered Bodedern Res.

Deiniolen 4 Llanrwst Res 2
Caernarfon League Moorings Cup 1st Round
Att: 50 ish
Gate: None
Prog: None

Cracking afternoon out in deepest slate mining country in Snowdonia. Deiniolen (say Dayn-yollen) upset the formbook with a well deserved win over their Div One opponents in one of the most dramatic settings I've been to in some time.

The ground is bordering on the unbelievable, hued out of a steep bank and almost unfeasibly narrow (I can't see how it's more than about 45 yards wide), with virtually no room in most places to take corners (unless you can run down vertical slopes). Spectator facilies are interesting, with a narrow walkway around the higher parts of the ground giving views from 12-15 feet above pitch level whilst only being a round 3-5 yards back in most places. It's tightly enclosed all around with the only tiny bit of space being on the far side around the dugouts. Part of the upper slope is railed and fenced and the backdrop is as you'd expect, with mountains and evidence of mine workings all around and the Menai Strait and Anglesey in the distance.

As expected it is a virtually wholly Welsh speaking community, but the club officials we spoke to were nothing less than friendly and welcoming.

The standard on the field, was, I have to say, better than expected and if Deiniolen are one of the weaker teams in Div Two (going off their start in the league, one win in 5), I'm rather looking forward to visiting a number of the other clubs in both divisions. A number are ex Gwynedd League so some semblance of facilities should by in evidence.

Llansannan 0 Trefnant Village 2
North Wales Coast FA Junior Cup
Att: 15
Prog: No
Gate: No

Two Struggling Clwyd League Premier Div Sides fought out what was, tbh, a poor advert for level four of the Welsh Pyramid. Compared to last week's game at Blaenau (Gwynedd Lge), the standard here was noticably lower.There's nothing there in the truest sense of it being a ground, it's basically the village Rec, however, the setting, on a good day, was simply beautiful and the various elevated viewing points around the ground gave cracking views of the surrounding Denbighshire hills.

It is, on the whole tightly hemmed in by trees, raised ground and a river and the view from the elevated park benches or the front of the car park (both 8-10 ft above the pitch were very good. The village is a very picturesque and sleepy little place South of Abergele and West of Denbigh, in the heart of rural Denbighshire.

I don't think it'd be too unkind to say that Llansannan are struggling at the moment. Bottom of the league, managerless and with a distinct lack of club officials (the keeper seemed to doing pretty much everything beforehand) I hope they turn the corner soon.

Roll on the next round, I think I may have a crack at following this competition through the season.

Without being too unkind, the onfield entertainment can only improve.

The elevated viewing in the Sw corner of the ground at Llansannan

Blaenau Amateurs 3 Real Llandudno 1
Gwynedd League
Att: 45
Admission: £1
Prog: No

The great old cover has finally gone now (ex Blaenau LMR Station canopy) but this is still a "proper" football ground and deserves a visit.

Fully enclosed and railed with dugouts, a single entrance (which enables then to take a gate) and some good vantage points around the ground to take in the backdrops which are to say the least, spectacular (for those that don't know Blaenau Ffestiniog was the centre of the slate mining industry in North Wales).

Best visited on a good day (now the cover has gone) to appreciate the stunning surroundings.

The welcome was warm and friendly from the committee at the gate, but remember and respect the fact that this is very much "Welsh" Wales, where "Cymraeg" is the native language. Don't, for one second though, let that put you off: the area has a lot to offer the visitor, especially if you have any interest in industrial heritage, and of course there's the Ffestiniog Railway (well worth a look if railways float yer boat, but allow 3 hours for the round trip) amongst many other gems.

Oh, and the game wasn't half bad either....four goals and many near misses, Blaenau comfortable for most of the time but Real's whippet like lone strker caused them plenty of headaches throughout.