Sunday 22nd February 2015
Cardiff City Women P-P Rhyl & Prestatyn Ladies.
Women’s Welsh Premier League.
Cardiff International Sports Stadium, Leckwith.
I debated whether to write this blog entry at all given the circumstances, but I found myself too disappointed to not at least write something about this postponed Sunday afternoon match.
I’d been excited about heading to a women’s football match, having never watched one in person during my 33 years on this planet – a fact I’m quite ashamed of really given the amount of men’s football matches I’ve partaken (last estimate, I’m in my 1000’s at least). Given this fact, I was quite keen to re-address this issue quickly and there seemed to be no better way of doing this than getting down to the Cardiff International Sports Stadium to watch the women of Cardiff City play Rhyl & Prestatyn Ladies.
The initial confusion wasn’t helped at all when I, like many others before me, discovered that there was two female Cardiff City teams. Firstly, Cardiff City Ladies team, that interestingly had nothing to do officially with the club and had been going for decades. There was also a Cardiff City Women’s team, who were the official female team of the club and had only been going for a handful of years.
Now when you take those two facts in hand and try and use Twitter or Google to find their fixtures, you’ll come up against a world of confusion!
Unlike the male team, Cardiff City Women actually play in the Welsh pyramid, namely the Women’s Welsh Premier League. Whereas their city counterparts, Cardiff City Ladies (the unofficial Cardiff City team per se) actually play in the English pyramid. Are you confused yet?
Using my well honed Googling skills, I’d found out a few weeks back that Cardiff City Women were due to play Rhyl & Prestatyn Ladies in a Women’s Welsh Premier League match at the Cardiff International Sports Stadium this afternoon. I had toyed with the idea of going to Park Avenue for the Aberystwyth Town vs TNS showdown in the Welsh Premier, but decided against that in order to take my first steps in the female game.
My wife was even more interested in the game than me, so we looked forward to an intriguing day of women’s football.
South Wales had been battered by heavy rain all morning from around 4am onwards and when we arose on Sunday morning, we weren’t sure whether any of the games today would survive the wet weather.
I searched for information online, I checked the official websites for both clubs, but found nothing. I checked Twitter and found nothing. With this in mind, I fired off a quick tweet to the official Cardiff City account with a few hours to spare before kick off.
Having heard nothing by 1.15pm, we made our way down to the ground to make the 2pm kick off.
It’s surprising how easy and quick it can be to get to the Leckwith area when Cardiff City men’s team are not playing. We managed to make the journey from Pontypridd to the Leckwith retail park in about 20 minutes, which is at least a third of the usual match day commute.
Another quick check of Twitter and I found no news. With a quarter of an hour or so to spare before kick off we made our way over to the Costa on the retail park. Picking up a Caramel Latte to go. As far as Costa go, this is just about the best thing I can find on their menu. True, it doesn’t come close to the Starbucks Caramel Machiatto, but for Leckwith it isn’t bad at all.
As we drove into the Athletics Stadium car park it seemed a little quiet. A little too quiet if you ask me. However, the Rhyl & Prestatyn team bus was parked up, so I figured the game was on.
Cardiff City Women’s team don’t actually play on the stadium pitch that Cardiff Grange Quins play on, choosing instead to play on one of the several external pitches surrounding the stadium. It wasn’t clear which pitch the match would be played on, as two of the pitches were fully netted up. So I made my way into reception to find out.
I found a man in a Rhyl & Prestatyn coat, I’m assuming he was the manager or coach based on his attire alone.
“What pitch is the match on mate?” I ask.
“No match today sorry. Called off!” He replied.
“Oh, what?” I said.
“Yep, just called off 5 minutes ago” He replied.
I talked to him for a minute or so and ascertained that the match had been called off by the referee at 1.45pm. My first experience of women’s football would have to wait a little longer.
As I got back in the car and drove home, I got a little angry. Not for myself and the fact I was missing a match in my elusive count to 100, no. I found myself being angry for the Rhyl & Prestatyn players who made the long journey for nothing.
When I got home I did a quick search on Google Maps to find the distance travelled by the team to get down to Cardiff, as admittedly I didn’t actually specifically know where Rhyl was, except that it was way up North.
I later found out, the Rhyl & Prestatyn team had travelled about 180 miles, or 4 hours in old money. In order to get there for 1pm, they would have had to have left Rhyl by 9am at the latest and that’s if you exclude services breaks and the treacherous at times A470, before Brecon.
I then started thinking about how little money is in the women’s game, especially at this level. A full bus, bringing about 16-20 players, full coaching team and maybe a family member or two would have probably set them back £500 as a starting guess, probably more. They’d spent the best part of 4 or 5 hours on the road, only to arrive and have the match cancelled at the last minute, then have to spend the next 4 or 5 hours driving back home. What an absolute waste of time.
Cardiff City of course, were very on the dot. Managing to get an announcement tweet out, via a little known Community account. They managed to get this tweet out at 2.10pm, a mere 10 minutes after the advertised kick off time.
A postponed game is a postponed game, there’s little that can be done about it. Especially when a waterlogged pitch is concerned, but I found myself wondering if Cardiff City could do a little more to help their Rhyl & Prestatyn counterparts out?
Could Cardiff City not have asked a local referee to carry out a pitch inspection at 8am? Before the Rhyl & Prestatyn Ladies started their long journey down South? The morning’s weather forecast didn’t predict an upturn in the weather come the afternoon, so there was no reason to expect things to get any better. Could the game not have been moved to the main Athletics Stadium ground, or even perhaps the Cardiff City Stadium across the road?
I understand there would have been some hesitancy given that the men’s first team and development team use this pitch day in and day out, but surely given the circumstances and the distance travelled – surely common sense would have prevailed?
I managed to get home just in time to watch the end of the Aberystwyth Town vs. TNS match on Sgorio. TNS, ran out 4-0 winners. I consoled myself with the lack of live football with another coffee and the loving warm embrace of Nicky John and Malcolm Allen on S4C.
Woman of the Match: Nicky John, of the Sgorio team for a confident and professional performance on this afternoon’s match.