Wednesday 4th February 2015
Cardiff Grange Quins 0-2 Cardiff Corinthians
Welsh League Division Three.
Cardiff International Sports Stadium, Leckwith.
Attendance: Circa 20.
Cardiff International Sports Stadium sits across the road from the Cardiff City Stadium, home of the biggest team in Cardiff, namely Cardiff City. It is a relatively new stadium, built (as is my understanding…) as part of the agreement for Cardiff City to move into their new stadium on the opposite side of Sloper Road to their old Ninian Park residence, and as a replacement for the old Athletics stadium, that had to make way for a new Asda store.
I don’t remember a lot about the old Athletics stadium admittedly, other than regularly passing it as my Dad and I drove down to games at Ninian Park in the early 90’s. Back then, it looked super-modern and in great condition. By the time it was demolished in the Winter of 2007, it had certainly looked less modern.
The new Athletics stadium is conveniently located just off the A4232 Cardiff Bay Link Road, about ten minutes drive from the M4 and is only a mile or so from the City Centre. I’ve been here a few times before tonight’s match. Cardiff City Reserves used to play the majority of their matches here on Tuesdays at lunch times around 2010/2011. I was working from home at that time, so it was easy to pop down and watch the likes of Jon Parkin and Darcy Blake put in about 70% effort playing against young Grimsby, Bristol City and Yeovil Town teams.
The Stadium is of the type you used to see in Eastern Europe a lot in the 80’s, of course not in terms of condition, I mean more in terms of having a running track around the edges of the pitch and large patches of grass surrounding.
When you sit in the stand, you have a superb view of the playing field. The only problem being that you are so far away from the action that you can sometimes struggle to make out which player actually has the ball. This case is proven tonight when I find myself unable to make out former Cardiff City midfielder Ibby Farah, who made a couple of first time appearances. Whether he played tonight or not, was a bit of a mystery. He really impressed me in his limited City performances, so I was quite keen on seeing him tonight. I believe he did play, as No. 8, but if he didn’t – please accept my apologies, as he must have a doppelganger on the team.
The stadium, as mentioned earlier, is a relatively new stadium. As such, the conditions inside are great, the stand is of exceptionally high quality, and could easily house several thousand spectators. The pitch is also in great condition for a Division Three surface and for that I can only commend the groundsmen and groundswomen.
Admission for tonight’s game is £3, which is a good price for such a match and seems about the average price I’ve been paying for Division Three football.
I’m not sure whether a match day programme was or wasn’t for sale tonight. My late running and awful timing meant that I watched the kick off from my car as I tried to find a space in the car park. I managed to ram £1.30 into the vending machines in the reception to grab a packet of Roast Ox Crisps and a Mars Bar (the underpinnings of a nutritious evening meal).
Tonight’s match brings together inter-city rivals Cardiff Grange Quins and Cardiff Corinthians (aka. Cardiff Corries). The teams, by geographical nature, have been close rivals for a number of decades, but have been kept apart by being in different divisions for several years. Having already played each other earlier in the season, tonight’s match could be the last between the sides for a while, especially considering the league positions of both teams.
Both sides seems to be having juxtaposed fortunes this season, Cardiff Quins find themselves bottom of Division Three, with only one win to their name in 19 games – while their city counterparts Cardiff Corries are in among the promotion places, looking likely to make up for last seasons relegation from Division Two.
As I take a few minutes to find the best seat, I settle down and notice something interesting in the kits being worn. Cardiff Corries line up in an amber/mauve quarters kit, very reminiscent of the kit worn over 100 years ago by the then Riverside AFC (They later became Cardiff City). While Grange Quins line up in a red shirts, black shorts and red socks ensemble, very reminiscent of the kit worn by Cardiff City following their disastrous re-brand. All of this is taking place on a pitch overlooked by Cardiff City’s current home!
I’m sure at least one of the kit choices is coincidental.
In its initial stages, the game is a fiesty one. Tough challenges are met with even tougher resistance, but nothing spills over. It’s clear there’s a spot of rivallry on show tonight, but there doesn’t seem to be any seething hatred, for now at least.
After a quarter of an hour, a defensive mix up by the Grange Quins leads to Corries striker Andre Phillips breaking the deadlock. The Grange Quins goalkeeper is furious with his defenders and hurls abuse at them in an attempt to muster his troops and get themselves back into the game.
Grange Quins, show moments of individual skill, but on the show of the first half performance they seem to lack a little bit of team fluidity. Whilst they hold the ball effectively in defence and midfield, they don’t seem to make things happen in the final third of the pitch.
Their Corries counterparts work the ball from the back very well and their players offer some very tricky footwork. On 35 minutes, one of their midfielders cuts through the Quins defence and is taken down by a bad tackle with no remaining defenders to cover. I thought the Quins were going to lose a man to a red card, but the referee thought otherwise and the Quins defender was let off with a booking.
It’s also worth noting that tonight is the first match on my adventure where I’ve witnessed makeshift Linesmen, the same kind that used to run the line at my Under 14’s matches back in the Rhondda. Namely, a coach from both teams, hastily given a flag. They don’t move from their spots, and they don’t make any actual decisions – but it allows the game to go ahead.
Tonight’s attendance isn’t announced, but looking around the stadium I’d probably hazard a guess at there being 40 or so spectators. There aren’t many, put simply. Which makes the stadium announcer’s “Could all football spectators please take their seats in the grandstand” announcement all the more hilarious. A couple of men pitched up against the fences heed this request and move into the stand.
A penalty is awarded to Corries on 55 minutes following a foul in the box. The penalty is excellently saved. The keeper also manages to make a superb save after the striker latches onto the rebound, unfortunately the Quins defence are very slow off the mark to challenge for the ball and on the third attempt, Andre Phillips manages to finally beat the keeper.
At 2-0, Grange Quins heads drop and for the last half an hour we’re predominantly looking at one way traffic.
Only a phenomenal save by the Grange Quins keeper on the hour, to tip the ball onto the bar and over from a close range Corries effort stops this affair becoming a rout. The Grange Quins goes on to make a handful of superb saves, and for me, despite the end result, he could probably be a good shout for tonight’s man of the match.
As the game comes to an end, a rare defensive mistake by a Corries defenders puts Grange Quins No. 12 through on goal, he can only put the ball over the bar from six yards as he faces down on the keeper.
A moment of confusion mars the match, as a Corries defender blatantly pulls down one of his opponents as he beats him. The referee is seen to book the player, but the resulting melee spills over, and six or seven players exchange pushes, verbal offerings and the referee has a job on his hand to keep this under control.
Once the melee settles, although I think I missed the actual crime, it looks like a Corries player was sent off, as he walks slowly across the pitch to his bench. His manager asks “What did you get sent off for?”, and the player exclaims “The ref thinks I elbowed him!”
Grange Quins come close in the last minute of stoppage time, as they break through the Corries defence again, only for the resulting shot to hit the bar.
As the final whistle blows, the three points tonight go to Cardiff Corinthians, who go up to third position in the league. Cardiff Grange Quins remain at the foot of the league staring relegation in the face.
All in all, a high tempered affair, with some good football on show at a great Welsh League ground.
My Man of the Match: Despite scoring both goals and putting in a sterling performance, I decided against giving Andre Phillips the honour, instead giving the accolade to the Grange Quins keeper, who without his heroic saves, the match could have easily ended 6-0.