Tuesday 14th April 2015.
Tonyrefail BGC 6-2 Tonyrefail Welfare.
Rhondda & District Football League, Premier Division.
Tynybryn Park, Tonyrefail
Attendance: Circa 30.
One of my workmates asks me “Are you watching the derby tonight?” as I’m about to leave the office for the night.
“Of course yeah” I reply.
He’s obviously referring to the Madrid derby in the Champions League, pitting last season’s finalists Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid against each other.
I of course, am not.
For tonight there is only one derby match going on in the world that interests me, and it certainly isn’t the Madrid derby!
“Should be a good game, Tonyrefail will want to get revenge after Welfare hammered them 5-0 a few weeks ago!” I quip.
He looks on in bemusement, as he always does when I tell him about the matches I find myself going to.
The drive from Pontypridd to Tonyrefail is a pretty short one, with only a little bit of rush hour traffic on Rhondda Road, as per the usual at this time of day, it’s nothing serious though and I’m in Tonyrefail after about 15 minutes.
I arrived in Tonyrefail early enough to pop to The Crispy Cod chip shop for a spot of Irish Curry & Chips. For those not in the know, The Crispy Cod is one of the greatest chip shops I have ever encountered in my life. They’ve won countless awards in the past, including ‘Welsh Fish & Chip Shop of the year’ and I will always take up the opportunity of dropping in when I’m passing through Tonyrefail.
The food is phenomenal and fills me to an uncomfortable brim as I walked down Tonyrefail Square towards Tynybryn Park.
As I touched upon in an earlier blog, Tonyrefail played a massive part in my formative years. I attended the local secondary school, just across the road from Tynybryn Park, for seven years. Studying for GCSE’s and later staying on to do A-Levels (Computing, Art, English Language, English Literature for those interested) at the school.
The ground therefore is a very familiar ground to me. However since the town’s Leisure Centre was extended about fifteen years ago, the surrounding football and rugby fields on Tynybryn Park have been reconfigured and juggled around a bit.
I’m certain there is one less football field on the park than there used to be, but my memory of the playing field layouts from 1999 is hazy to say the least.
As with all previous Rhondda & District League games, admission is free of charge and therefore attracts a decent crowd, especially when the match kicks off so soon after most people finish work and most people are drawn to this evening’s Madrid on ITV.
Tonyrefail Welfare went into tonight’s match with 25 points more than their rivals and beat them 5-0 in the reverse fixture a few weeks prior to tonight’s match. Therefore on the basis of league position and previous results alone, you would be forgiven for predicting that Tonyrefail Welfare would come out of tonight’s derby with all three points.
For the purpose of minimising confusion for the rest of this blog entry, I’m simply going to refer to Tonyrefail BGC (The home side) as Tonyrefail, and referring to Tonyrefail Welfare as simply ‘Welfare’.
Both sides started the match slowly and initially I feared that this match wouldn’t be a typically classic derby match. I’ve written in great detail previously about the perils of derby matches between sides that are too close to each other, and tonight’s match proves to be a similar case.
Players in both sides know each other very well, they work with each other, went to school with each other, perhaps even played for the opposite side in the past. So you get the feeling there’s a little too much respect when players go in for tackles or in 50/50 scenarios.
The first real opportunity of the match falls to Tonyrefail’s No.7. He found himself looking down on the Welfare goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation. Unfortunately for Tonyrefail, the No.7 seemed to panic a little and sent his shot high, wide and not very handsome.
Tonyrefail fired a warning shot to their Welfare opponents four minutes later when the same No.7 beat the offside trap and passed the ball forward for No.3 to slot the ball home from close range. The referee, Martin Davies judged No.3 to be just offside and disallowed the goal.
After 17 minutes, the inevitable happened and Tonyrefail BGC took the lead through a well worked goal by their No.9 who picked up the ball 10 yards out from goal and unleashed a neat half volley towards the goal that left the Welfare goalkeeper with no chance of stopping his effort.
Tonyrefail Welfare seemed to be in a state of shock and looked for large parts of the first half like they were a yard or two behind their rivals at all times. I definitely got the feeling that Tonyrefail BGC were certainly more likely to double their lead than Welfare were to equalise.
Tonyrefail’s No.9 broke through the Welfare defence on 25 minutes and was brought down by the stretching hand of the Welfare goalkeeper as he rounded him. The referee immediately pointed to the spot, but chose not to punish the Welfare keeper any further for his foul.
The penalty was calmly, but strongly put into the back of the net by Tonyrefail’s No.11, who tricked the goalkeeper by staggering his run up to the spot.
Tonyrefail BGC had no time to rest on their laurels, as almost immediately from the kick off Welfare halved their deficit by way of an absolutely superb long range goal from Welfare’s No.7. The player picked up the ball about thirty yards out from goal and unleashed a quite unbelievable volley that rocked the stantion in the top right corner of the goal.
You would be forgiven at this point for believing that Welfare would mount a comeback at this stage. Any Welfare hopes were sadly dashed on the half hour when they regained a two goal cushion after their No.9 put an excellent cross into the box for No.10 who headed past a helpless goalkeeper in the Welfare goal.
The last action of any note in the first half came by way of another goal for Tonyrefail BGC. Tonyrefail’s No.9 picked out a lovely chipped pass to No.7 who beat the offside trap and fired home from 12 yards quite clinically.
With Tonyrefail BGC holding a slender 3-2 lead going into the interval the game could have gone either way in the second half.
Only at half time did it dawn on me that Tonyrefail Welfare had lined up for tonight’s match with only ten players. I counted three times, I used all of my fingers, I used my calculator. Yep, they only had ten players!
It would later transpire that a Welfare player would turn up at the ground with about twenty minutes of the match left, straight from work, resplendent in business suit and tie, ready and willing to strip down to his kit and take part in the remainder of the game.
Welfare came out for the second half with a sense of renewed intent and came very close to leveling affairs on 53 minutes when a free kick was placed delicately onto the head of Welfare’s No.5 who found himself unmarked in the box. Only a superb save from the Tonyrefail BGC goalkeeper stopped Welfare from restoring parity.
Welfare were to come even closer to leveling the scores on the hour when their No.9 turned on a sixpence to unleash a furious shot against the post. The rebounding ball fell exceptionally kindly to the feet of their No.2 who shot well wide.
A minute later, Welfare beat the offside trap again and their No.7, with the chance to seal his hat-trick, looked down on the goalkeeper only to fire his effort well wide from about 12 yards out.
Such was the frantic end to end nature of the opening stages of the second half that no more than 30 seconds after this intense period of pressure Tonyrefail’s No.15 found himself with a golden opportunity of an open goal in front of him, after rounding the Welfare goalkeeper. Unfortunately for Tonyrefail, he took the ball around the keeper a little too far and gave himself a very difficult angle to capitalise on his good build up work,
The three points were confirmed for Tonyrefail BGC in the 71st minute when their No.9 beat the offside trap and chipped the goalkeeper from about ten yards to give his side a 4-2 lead.
Four minutes later Tonyrefail BGC sailed into a 5-2 lead when a free kick was delivered into the box beautifully and their No.10 headed home from 12 yards out.
Tonyrefail BGC rounded off what was a great performance for them in the last minute when a corner kick was sent deep into the Welfare box. The ball wasn’t dealt with effectively by the Welfare defence and they gave too much room to Tonyrefail’s No.11 who got a foot on the cross. The ball was heading wide until it was fired back on target and into the back of the net by Tonyrefail’s No.9 from close range.
With the score at 6-2, the referee sportingly minimised the amount of stoppage time needed at the end of the game and blew up to bring this intriguing encounter to a close.
Tonyrefail Welfare will go on to finish the league with a much higher points tally than their cross-town rivals, but this defeat will hurt for a long time.
My Man of the Match: Tonyrefail’s No.9 was brilliant in front of goal and always tracked back to help his colleagues.