Saturday January 17th 2015
Penybont 0-3 Briton Ferry Llansawel.
Welsh League Division One.
Bryntirion Park, Bridgend.
Attendance: Circa 60
I’d set myself up to go and watch Barry Town United at home against AFC Llwydcoed. I’d set a Google reminder on my phone to remind me this morning and I’d looked up train times and prices to get to Cadoxton, which I’d worked out was the nearest train station to Jenner Park.
I did Pontypridd parkrun in Ynysangharad Park in the morning, coming in with a respectable but icy 28 minute 5k (my usual time is around 22 minutes, but I’ve hardly run since last Summer!) and really struggled with the icy conditions. I figured this would have a massive affect on today’s games in the Welsh League.
Nevertheless, Barry Town United were due a pitch inspection at 9.15, and when I checked at 10.30ish, didn’t see any bad news on my Twitter feed. I had a quick shower, wolfed down an omlette based breakfast and got changed ready for my day in Barry…
Nightmare! Never fear, my old reliable boys up the road, AFC Porth have a reserve league fixture against Penybont lined up. I’d love little more than a pint or two in the Llwyncelyn before heading up to Dinas Park for a cracking game…
Will there be any games on in south Wales this afternoon I ask myself? I debate heading up to Penygraig to watch my cousin’s Penygraig United team play at Ely Park, but I reason with myself that if games at this level are falling foul of the weather then Ely Park has no chance of being playable.
I go back to Twitter, hunting furiously for a game that is still on. The thought of 3G pitches springs to mind, immediately Cambrian & Clydach come to mind, but they are supposed to be away at Aberdare Town. Then I remember…
An hour later, we find ourselves navigating our way through Cefn Glas in Bridgend hunting out Bryntirion Park.
Bryntirion Park sits atop Cefn Glas and is a decent little ground, the facilities on the face of it are pretty good.
Penybont FC are a relatively new team to the Welsh League, however their heritage is something with a bit more history behind it. Penybont FC is a team formed two years ago by the merging of two Bridgend based teams Bryntirion Atheletic and Bridgend Town. Bryntirion Athletic did, to my knowledge always play at Bryntirion Park, whilst Bridgend Town played at Coychurch Road – and later groundshared at the Brewery Field where Bridgend Rugby amongst others play (My egg knowledge is near non-existent aside from the fact that Neil Jenkins used to work for Just Rentals and Rupert Moon is the most Welsh-Non Welsh person ever – look it up!).
Bridgend Town sold* (operative word) their Coychurch Road ground several years ago to Asda, who have now placed a massive superstore on the site of the old ground, which was kind of poignant and a little sad for me – I spent many a night in my late teens at the Football Club as it would often be the only place in Bridgend that put on punk gigs. I hadn’t been for the best of fifteen years, but to see it go was sad.
Briton Ferry Llansawel have a similar story behind them, two teams merging in 2009 to make the current team. My link with Briton Ferry Llansawel is a tenuous one in that my ex-work colleague Dai Nott (who played in goals for our works 5-a-side team Real Madras in the PlayFootball Swansea Thursday Night Premiership) played in goal for Llansawel around that time when they gained promotion to the Welsh League initially from the Neath League.
You’re welcomed at Bryntirion Park into a warm and welcoming clubhouse which was showing the early kick off Derby County vs. Nottingham Forest match, a match which was part of my 50p 17 way accumulator (It would have won me a nice £38,000 if they all came up!). With my taste buds needing something different to lager I opted for a cool refreshing pint of Strongbow, whilst my wife went for a Diet Pepsi. I was again amazed (as I have been so often during my Welsh League travels) to pay about £4.25 for the whole round. If you’re a regular reader you’d know I always find amazement in just how good value this league is, but what can I say? I’ve become accustomed to paying £4 a pint down at Cardiff City!
The clubhouse has been refurbished and extended recently. As a matter of fact, I’m told that Chris Coleman formally opened the new building the previous night! So we sit down, safe from the weather outside and watch as my 17 way accumulator falls apart at the 2nd match (Forest go on to beat Derby 2-1, I had them down for a draw) before heading out to the match.
Entry is a fiver each for adults, and we get a match day program thrown in for free. Excellent!
When you see Bryntirion Park in the flesh it becomes clear to see why so many teams want to start using 3G pitches. Of course I understand the “traditional” argument of real pitches on real grass, but these grounds are so good nowadays – especially when done right, the ball bounces true, keepers aren’t afraid to throw themselves around on the surface. The days of pulling off a sliding tackle at Pentre Park and needing thirty stitches afterwards are long gone! There’s this fear a lot of people have that if 3G pitches start popping up everywhere, we’ll have repeats of the horrific Luton Town ground in the late 1980’s, or even worse – the pitch Wales played Andorra on last year in the vital Euro 2016 qualifier.
There is a massive financial hit involved however, so its understandable that not everyone can do it. Interestingly, Malky Mackay – City’s ex-Manager re-opened this ground last year only a week or so after getting the boot. Ex-Cardiff City chairman Alan Whitely is on the board of directors at Penybont FC (I must say, Alan is a decent man who invited me down to his office a few years back when I originally asked the club for a season ticket refund following our controversial rebrand. His words, which will remain private until the day I die, were the one of the main reasons I chose to renew.)
The game kicks off and after the first ten minutes both teams struggle to take a hold on the game, it starts to become clear to all that Briton Ferry Llansawel, despite their league position (prior to kick off, they found themselves six places behind Penybont in the table) seem to want this a bit more than their Bridgend counterparts. Their passes seem to find a team mates feet far easier, they seem a little more comfortable in possession of the ball and are building up slowly from the back. Penybont find themselves struggling to maintain possession and being limited to the odd counter attack.
Briton Ferry find themselves going a goal to the good, when a hole is found in the Penybont defence, Briton Ferry’s No. 9, a decent finisher who would get another goal shortly calmly places the ball around the Penybont keeper to make it 1-0.
A couple of minutes before half time, Briton Ferry Llansawel break on the counter and Penybont find themselves outnumbered in the defence. Briton Ferry’s winger places the ball on a sixpence to their No. 9 who finishes from close range to make it 2-0 as the teams go in for half-time.
My wife and I debate having some of the chips currently being served in the clubhouse, they smell phenomenal – but decide against it at the last minute, going instead for a Cappuccino and a Plain White Coffee, £1 each. Excellent. Best coffee so far this year!
As the second half progresses, it’s very much the same story as the first half – although it must be said that Penybont come out with a bit of a renewed sense of vigour. They’ve made a change by bringing on a new Right-Back at No.12 who seems an exciting live-wire, imagine a very small and slight Andrei Kanchelskis, but playing as a right-back. Something like that! Our No.12 finds himself in a near scuffle half way through the second half, looking like he was going to attempt to drop a Briton Ferry Llansawel player with 10 inches and at least three or four stone on him. Either way, I like this guy. He brings something new to Penybont and makes a lot of headway along the right wing.
The longer the match goes on without a Penybont goal the more it seems Briton Ferry take control. Two spectacular long range efforts are saved excellently by the Briton Ferry keeper. Unfortunately, Penybont are being limited to long range efforts as Briton Ferry hold a tight defensive line.
It isn’t long before Briton Ferry add a third and make the win secure. The game peters out during the last ten minutes and Briton Ferry Llansawel take all three points.
A few Penybont fans leave questioning their recent form, one says to his mate “We’d better do better than that Friday or we’ll get hammered!”. Personally, they’re not a bad side – they just didn’t seem that up for it today, whereas Briton Ferry seemed to want it a bit more. Today’s result doesn’t change Penybont’s position in the league, due to the amount of postponements up and down the place, however Briton Ferry Llansawel find themselves in a far healthier position.
We leave, and agree that we’ve both enjoyed the afternoon greatly. Bryntirion Park is a lovely, welcoming ground with a brilliant clubhouse. We’ll definitely be back. A Spring game, watching from the clubhouse patio tables with a cold pint of Strongbow seems irresistible to me.
Big thanks to Penybont FC for your hospitality.