Match 95: 05/12/2015. Prince of Wales 1-1 AFC Porth 2nds. Rhondda & District Football League, Division One.

Saturday 5th December.
Prince of Wales 1-1 AFC Porth 2nds.
Rhondda & District Football League, Division One.
King George Running Field, Clydach Vale
Attendance: Circa 60.

The awful weather in south Wales over the last few weeks meant that his afternoon, for the first time in three weeks I was actually going to attend a football match.

Three weeks without football is a fair length of time, especially for someone who hopes to attend 100 matches in a year. I hadn’t gone without a football match since the pre-season break.

With my scheduled Pontypridd Town vs. STM Sports Welsh League game long called off due to STM Sports’ twice-postponed Welsh Cup match taking precedence I finally got the chance to head back up to the Rhondda to take in a game in my land of birth.

DSC_0001

The King George Running Track, Rhondda

It’s funny. I’m a Rhondda boy, born and bred here. Despite moving away for work, I always kept coming back. I’m the ‘boomerang kid’ and over the pre-season my Wife and I moved back to the Rhondda to Porth.

Despite this, I found aside from the Welsh League sides in the Valley (Cambrian & Clydach BGC, Ton Pentre and AFC Porth) I’ve not watched any Rhondda League football since I moved, which is weird because when I was living further away in Treforest I started watching a fair amount of Rhondda League football.

DSC_0007

So this match, was shamefully, my first Rhondda League game of the season.

Admittedly I couldn’t have picked a better game for my re-introduction back into the Rhondda League.

You see, whilst I was away there have been a few changes in and around the Rhondda & District League.

DSC_0005

The league, which operated as a single “Premier Division” last season with 17 teams has grown to encompass two divisions of ten teams each.

The make up of the league has changed a fair bit as well. 2013/14 Premier Division winners Penygraig United seem to have imploded and have chosen not to take up their place in the league this season.

The league has also appeared to lose a relatively new side in the form of AFC Trebanog. Unfortunately both times I watched them last season they were on the wrong side of both 8-0 and 9-0 drubbings by Trebanog FC and Gelli Hibs respectively, but I was surprised they didn’t field a side this year as they were a very spirited, young team.

Rhondda Fach outfit Stanleytown took their place in the Premier Division as they became one of the last sides to ever face relegation from the old South Wales Senior League.

DSC_0098

King George’s Track sits a stones throw away from Cambrian & Clydach BGC of the Welsh League’s home ground. Which can be seen behind the trees.

Last season’s League and Cup winners Gelli Hibs remained in the league after falling at the South Wales Alliance play-off hurdle as they faced tough competition in a 5 team league contest at the end of last season.

The new second tier of the Rhondda League seems to be where most of the changes have happened as the league welcomes both the new, the old and the current into the league.

The new comes in the form of The Prince of Wales. A seemingly impressive side based out of a pub just off the main road that cuts through Treorchy at the top of the Rhondda Fawr.

DSC_0015

Aside from starting the season in superb fashion with a 100% win record from their opening nine games, The Prince have been grabbing headlines off the pitch as well. As this amusing article tends to suggest.

Joining them in the new league are AFC Porth Reserves/2nds/Under 19s. AFC Porth of course field a side in Division Two of the Welsh League, but for a long period of time they also fielded a reserve side in the Rhondda League and I know from speaking to club chairman Huw Jones at many games last season this was something he was very keen on re-instating if the club were able to afford it.

Sporting Marvels, a Rhondda based side currently fighting it out in the South Wales Alliance have followed AFC Porth and have also taken up the option of fielding a second string side in the new league.

The final addition comes in the form of Tonypandy Albions, a side with a rich heritage in what is now called the South Wales Alliance. However since the club ceased to be a few seasons ago, they find themselves having to start back at the bottom of the Welsh pyramid.

DSC_0108

It’s telling then that going into today’s match all four new sides currently hold the top 4 places in the league and with only two promotion places available come the end of the season, at least two of these sides who had their eyes set on promotion at the start of the season will have to wait another year for their chance.

rhonddaleage

There was a touching moment at the start of this afternoon’s match where both sides, like the other Rhondda sides who were lucky enough to get their matches played last week, took part in an impeccably held minute’s silence for Rhondda League stalwart and ex Ton Pentre chairman Bryan Bees who sadly passed away recently following an illness.

I myself have only brief memories of Bryan as I was involved in Rhondda football as a youngster however I did meet him once as an adult at a game and his passion for the game at this level was unfaltering.

DSC_0123

It was then a fitting testament to a man who gave so much to the Rhondda League that the league is now in a position where it can offer competitive football over two tiers, which look likely to grow further as sides like Trebanog FC toy with the idea of fielding a second side in the lowest tier.

It’s hard with matches like these, because I only know a couple of the players, in fact in today’s line-ups I believe the only player I’ve seen before comes in the shape of AFC Porth’s stalwart midfielder Huw Day whom I’ve watched a couple of times in AFC Porth’s first team.

DSC_0067

Onto the match then.

The game starts in a humorous fashion as within thirty seconds of the kick off, a call comes from the changing room area. It appears that a Prince of Wales substitute, perhaps unaware of what was going on, managed to get himself locked in the changing rooms whilst the game kicked off.

It took a few minutes for the keyholder to be tracked down but I believe he got out of there in the nick of time!

DSC_0040

The first real opportunity of the game fell to Prince’s No.10 who beat his marker skillfully on the edge of the box but will feel he should have done better as he blazed his shot well over the bar with ample time to compose himself.

Almost immediately following this, his opposite number was gifted a glorious chance to give his Porth side the lead as a defensive error lead to the ball falling at his feet inside the box, unfortunately he too rushed his shot and failed to really test the goalkeeper.

DSC_0064

AFC Porth were given a second chance to take the lead on the 18th minute when the ball fell kindly to their No.11 who fumbled his effort wide from just outside the six yard box.

From this point forward, Prince of Wales dominated the first half, attacking against the wind. They were unlucky not to go ahead on the half hour mark when their No.4 rattled the left hand post from 30 yards out as he fizzed a decent effort along the floor which evaded the Porth defence and looked to have beat the Porth keeper only to look on in frustration as it cannoned back off the upright for a Porth defender to clear to safety.

DSC_0116

The defining moment of the first half came in the 36th minute when a goalmouth scramble lead to the Porth defence being forced to block the ball off the goal line twice in quick succession. As it would turn out, the second time looked to have been blocked by AFC Porth’s No.3 with his hand.

The referee Martin Davies didn’t hesitate to point to the spot and took his time and decided rightly to send the defender off for his handball.

Prince of Wales’ No.8 stepped up to the spot and dispatched a brilliant free kick high into the top left corner of the goal that even though the Porth stopper guessed the right way, he stood little chance of saving the effort.

DSC_0112

Prince of Wales pushed forward in an attempt to double their advantage but they found themselves being matched by a very strong and resolute AFC Porth defence.

The Porth side came out for the second half with renewed vigour and looked a changed side from the one that played the first half, even with the numerical disadvantage, they played a high attacking line and were nearly rewarded in the 55th minute when their No.10 hit a lovely free kick from 30 yards out that required something of a beautiful save from the Prince of Wales goalkeeper.

Prince of Wales found their chances in the second half limited and would have been disappointed not to seal the three points on the hour when their No.11 was gifted a chance inside the six yard box to double his side’s advantage.

Unfortunately for the Treorchy side, he chose to try and chip the keeper from very close range which lead to the Porth stopper picking the ball up easily.

DSC_0111

Three minutes later, Porth scored a deserved equaliser from the foot of their No.10 who hit a lovely free kick from just outside the box into the bottom right corner of the net to give his side the impetus in the last half an hour of the game.

In the closing twenty minutes the game grew a little feisty and Prince’s numerical advantage was eliminated when their No.2 found himself being sent to the changing rooms for an early shower.

Admittedly (and shamefully) I was messing around with my camera at the time and as I looked up, I saw the player walking off the field. So I have no idea whether this was a second booking, a straight red card, a foul, dissent, whatever.

DSC_0072

Sorry guys, you all know that if you want the exact happenings and goings on, you don’t come to my blog 🙂

A few minutes later it was the Prince’s defences turn to perform goal line heroics as Porth’s No.10 went within inches of giving his side the lead only for a near gymnastic effort from a Prince defender saved the day for his side.

In the end this was very much a game of two halves. Prince of Wales dominated the first half and will certainly feel they could have sealed the three points before half time, conversely AFC Porth were by far the better side in the second half and will feel a little disappointed they weren’t able to clinch that winning goal in the closing stages.

DSC_0097

This result however is more of a testament to the quality of the football played in the Rhondda. For both of these sides to be plying their trade (perhaps albeit temporarily) in the second tier of the Rhondda game is a massive statement of how much football in the Rhondda has come on in recent years.

Keep an eye on both of these sides. I wouldn’t be surprised if either of them end up troubling sides in the South Wales Alliance in the coming years.

Posted in afc porth, prince of wales, rhondda & district league, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Match 94: 14/11/2015. Cambrian & Clydach BGC 5-2 Llanwern. Mid-season Friendly.

Saturday 14th November.
Cambrian & Clydach BGC 5-2 Llanwern.
Mid-season Friendly.
Cambrian Lakeside Sports Academy, Clydach Vale
Attendance: Circa 30.

There’s something depressing about south Wales in the middle of monsoon weather.

As I arose in the morning, I looked on in despair at my Twitter feed as more and more games were postponed due to the horrific weather that had been attacking south Wales overnight.

I had planned to take in a West/Mid Wales double header this Saturday. My plan had been to head up to my old friends Felinfach in Ceredigion to catch their cup tie against Machynlleth Reserves before zooming up the A487 to watch that evening’s Sgorio Welsh Premier League match between Aberystwyth Town and Port Talbot Town.

Unfortunately as I watched game after game fall by the wayside it soon became apparent that the risk of travelling 110 miles up the road for two games that were very risky was probably foolish.

DSC_0072

As it turned out, Felinfach’s game was cancelled around midday whilst Aberystwyth’s game was cancelled at around 2pm.

Luckily, I caught word of a friendly match taking place at Cambrian Lakeside Sports Academy between Welsh League Division One outfit Cambrian & Clydach BGC and Division Two struggling Gwent side Llanwern.

DSC_0001

Not one to turn down a spot of football a couple of miles from the house I made my way up to Clydach.

On my arrival it was clear to see that even on a good 3G surface, like the one at Cambrian, that both sides were going to struggle with the awful weather.

I’ve never seen water pool on a 3G pitch, until now!

I really felt for the players as they appeared soaked to the bone before a ball was even kicked.

DSC_0059

As luck would have it, the terrible weather brought together two sides I’d wanted to see. Cambrian & Clydach, despite living a mere four miles from their home ground and having seen their impressive development side more than once, strangely are a side I’d not seen until now.

I always enjoy watching Llanwern, as much for the company of one of the nicest characters in Welsh football, Danny Glorieux, a man I met earlier this year while he held down a role at Pontypridd Town.

DSC_0013

Sadly since he left Pontypridd Town and moved nearer his Gwent home to Llanwern I’ve seen a lot less of the guy than I’d liked to. So it was great to catch up with him.

The other reason I love watching Llanwern, aside of course from their quite lovely insistence on playing a beautiful passing game, is the presence of the great man himself, Gareth Delve.

DSC_0003

Now I don’t want to delve on things (groan!) so I won’t go too far down this alley, or this blog threatens to become a long thousand word diatribe declaring love for the silky skills of the man.

Long story short. Three of the UK’s saddest and greatest football groundhopping bloggers met up at a Llanwern friendly match against fellow Gwent outfit Ynysddu Welfare. I was one of them, Matt who runs the superb ‘Lost Boyos’ blog was there, so to was our good friend Gibbo.

We expected an average match between two fairly mismatched sides (Llanwern sat about 4 levels above Gwent County League side Ynysddu Welfare).

DSC_0084

What we witnessed that day was a performance from Llanwern midfielder Gareth Delve was nothing short of majestic. To the point where he became a bit of a cult figure for us all. Twitter went into meltdown as we tried to find out who he was.

He skipped through players like they weren’t there. He laid passes on for his team mates whilst looking like he wasn’t really trying that hard. He nutmegged four players in a row at one point!

It all got a bit weird for a few days as we declared the Llanwern midfielder the new Diego Maradona. I’m sure it was all a bit embarrassing for Mr. Delve. Especially when I got a Facebook message from one of his work colleagues, my friend Rhonwen – who had apparently also heard about said blog and confirmed he was getting a ribbing in work for being the new Lionel Messi.

So enough said on that, obvious to say that I was looking forward to seeing Gareth Delve in action once more, especially since an injury kept him on the sidelines when I watched them away at West End in September.

DSC_0103

Cambrian & Clydach showed why they play their football at a level higher than their Gwent counterparts as they took the lead early on from the foot of their No.4 who latched on to a corner kick that fell loose inside the box.

Within five minutes of the opening goal, Clydach doubled their advantage through their No.8 who had a second chance at goal when the ball rebounded back to him after a fumbled save by the Llanwern goalkeeper.

Two minutes later, mid-way through the first half it looked like the game was quickly slipping away from Llanwern as they fell three goals behind after a superbly taken goal from Cambrian’s No.12 who hit a peach of an effort from 40 yards out which left the goalkeeper stood still on his goal line.

DSC_0101

Cambrian rounded off a superb half with a fourth goal in the 40th minute that came by way of talented youngster Josh Maksimovic, who timed his run behind the Llanwern defence perfectly to slot the ball calmly past the Llanwern goalkeeper to give his side a 4-0 lead going into the half time interval.

I braved the storms during the interval and made my way over to the coffee hut for a quick caffeine pick me up and got speaking to the guys inside. With what limited mobile reception we had, we worked out that something like two Welsh League games out of a potential fixture list of thirty five or so games actually made it.

The second half started much in the same fashion with Cambrian dominating proceedings. The Rhondda outfit took a 5-0 lead ten minutes into the second half when their No.7 picked up the ball thirty yards out from goal and had enough time on his hands to pick his spot in the top corner of the goal to score a truly sublime fifth for his side.

DSC_0117

When the fifth unanswered goal hit the back of the net, the Llanwern bench made a couple of tactical changes, pushing our cult hero Gareth Delve onto the left wing and giving some fresh legs a chance to play in monsoon conditions.

With no pressure on them, Llanwern pushed forward in numbers down the flanks and funnily enough they managed to be by far the better side in the last half an hour.

The Gwent side went close twice in three minutes. The first was a fingertip stop from a testing shot on the edge of the box, the second a header from a corner kick that their No.15 headed just inches wide of the far post.

DSC_0032

This lack of pressure allowed our cult hero the chance to flex his skills and he did just that. Despite the fact that Llanwern were well beaten on the day, the fact I got to see Gareth Delve nutmegging players from the league above was always going to be appreciated.

We were never going to see a performance like that legendary performance against Ynysddu Welfare in the Summer, but I can confirm that his cult status among groundhoppers is still definitely worth it.

DSC_0124 Llanwern scored their first consolation goal in the 68th minute when their No.15 found himself unmarked at a corner kick and headed home past the helpless Cambrian goalkeeper.

The Newport side’s second and final goal came in the 75th minute when a piece of footballing brilliance from Gareth Delve lead to the ball falling to the feet of Llanwern’s No.7 who clinically slotted the ball home into the far right corner of the net.

All in all, despite the offensive weather this was a great afternoon of football between two sides who play a lovely style of passing football, sides who both find themselves near the wrong end of the table and both would be forgiven for adopting a longer, more direct form of passing in pursuit of crucial league points.

Posted in cambrian & clydach bgc, llanwern, welsh league | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Match 93: 10/11/2015. Barry Town United 4-1 Risca United. Welsh League Division One.

Tuesday 10th November.
Barry Town United 4-1 Risca United.
Welsh League Division One.
Jenner Park, Barry.
Attendance: Circa 100.

I always love a visit to Jenner Park, it’s one of my favourite grounds in Wales. I remember going to loads of games there as a teenager back in the days when Barry Town were just starting to assert themselves as a dominant force in the Welsh game.

Sadly, I’ve never played on the pitch. Being a Rhondda kid, our teams rarely travelled outside of the county borders.

DSC_0024

The ground has recently been upgraded to include a 3G surface, which has funnily enough meant that as late as tonight Barry Town United have yet to play a home league game this season. This fact shows just how much progress the club have made given their current league position and never having set foot on Jenner Park in the league since last season.

Therefore although Barry Town United currently sit 8 points behind leaders Goytre in Division One it could be said that they look something like dark horses for that precious Welsh League title and the associated promotion to the heights of the Welsh Premier League come next April. Especially when you consider that 14 of their remaining 20 games after tonight will all be played at Jenner Park.

Needless to say it was quite... moist at Jenner Park this evening.

Needless to say it was quite… moist at Jenner Park this evening.

Risca United were a team I’d never watched play before so I was quite excited to see what they were about.

The club gained promotion to Division One on the final day of last season when Caldicot Town, who themselves looked destined for promotion with a couple of months of the season to go, let their foot off the accelerator and Risca United’s increasing form towards the end of the season saw them scrape past Caldicot into the final promotion spots with groundshare-buddies Aberbargoed Buds and tonight’s opponents and runaway Division Two champions Barry Town United.

DSC_0115

Established in 1946, ‘The Cuckoos’ have represented the town of Risca in the Welsh League since the 1990/91 season when they returned to the league following a 30 year absence.

A brief dalliance under the name Risca & Gelli United during the mid 2000’s in Welsh League Division 3 lasted four seasons before the club returned to their original name of Risca United.

DSC_0126

The club moved from their old ground Ty-Isaf Park during the Summer break to the relatively new and impressive Caerphilly Centre for Sporting Excellence where they ground-share with fellow Division One side Aberbargoed Buds and Cardiff City Ladies among others.

Barry Town United have done a superb job in getting the 3G surface installed so quickly. Unfortunately the clubhouse wasn’t open this evening, tonight proved to be a game too soon as renovation works were ongoing. However this simply meant I, like many others, took the opportunity to pop over to the off-licence across the road from Jenner Park during the half time interval for a Double Decker and a Red Bull.

DSC_0128

And so onto tonight’s match.

Barry Town United moved up to 5th spot in Division One of the Welsh League with a challenging victory against a Risca United side who put them under a great deal of pressure at times.

DSC_0091

The Barry Town United side started the match in a furious fashion, looking to take the impetus to their Gwent rivals who defended resolutely during the opening stages.

The first real opportunity of the game fell to Risca’s Kyle Williams who beat two men before running into the box. Williams will feel he could’ve done better as he lashed his shot well over the crossbar.

DSC_0079

Barry Town United took the lead in the 42nd minute after a couple of minutes of intense pressure on the Risca United goal. Barry striker James Dixon was afforded a second bite at the apple after his first shot was well saved by Risca stopper Aaron Colwill but the rebound fell straight back at Dixon’s feet. Dixon made no mistake from six yards and gave the Jenner Park side a 1-0 lead.

In first half injury time, Jordan Cotterill made an even bigger nuisance of himself when he laid on a beautiful ball for James Dixon who looked to have rounded Risca goalkeeper Aaron Colwill who mistimed his challenge and brought down the Barry striker inside the box.

DSC_0130

The referee didn’t hesitate in awarding a penalty to Barry Town United. Bobby Briers stepped up to the spot and despatched a lovely penalty to double his side’s advantage going into the half time interval.

Risca United upped the tempo in the second half and started to put the frighteners up a fair number of the Barry Town supporters sat near me in the stand. The Gwent side were unlucky not to get a goal back in the 56th minute when Matthew Russell headed against the far post after seemingly beating Paul Morean in the Barry Town United goal.

DSC_0159

Barry Town United had a golden opportunity to seal all three points midway through the second half when Drew Fahiya outpaced Jon Payne down the left channel and unselfishly passed the ball across the six yard box to James Dixon who defied the laws of gravity in scooping the ball well over the crossbar from close range.

A minute later Risca United scored a deserving goal, although the nature of the goal caused some controversy. A defence splitting pass into the box was controlled, seemingly by the hand of Matthew Thomas who then slotted home clinically from six yards out. The referee and linesman didn’t spot the infringement and as such awarded the goal despite complaints from the Barry Town United defence.

DSC_0151

This goal gave Risca United the belief that they could take something from this game and they pushed forward in numbers to try and steal a point or more from the match.

In the end it was Risca United’s desperate search for an equaliser that proved to be their downfall as a Risca attack broke down and Barry counter-attacked quickly. Jordan Cotterill found himself on the half way line with only the Risca goalkeeper Aaron Colwill to beat.

DSC_0142

Cotterill rounded the goalkeeper inside the centre circle before slotting the ball into the awaiting empty net from 40 yards out to restore his side’s two goal cushion.

Barry Town United made certain of the three points in the final minute of normal time after a good old fashioned physical battle on the touchline between Kareem Leigh and Ryan Evans with Leigh proving the victor.

DSC_0146

Leigh ran into the box at pace and placed the ball into the path of substitute Rhys James who slotted the ball home from six yards to round off the scoring in the game.

The 4-1 scoreline was perhaps a little harsh on a Risca United side who for large parts of the second half offered quite a threat and had the Barry Town United defence pinned back on the the eighteen yard box for a large proportion of the second half.

DSC_0155

This was a simple case of one side being a little more clinical in front of goal.

All in all, a positive return to Jenner Park for Barry Town United, who will surely now kick on and win a number of their large amount of remaining home games?

DSC_0165

I’d like to wish the very best of luck to both Barry Town United and Risca United for the rest of your seasons. A very big thanks again to all at Barry Town United for your ongoing hospitality and friendship.

My Man of the Match: Jordan Cotterill offered a constant threat and was clinical in front of goals and for that, Cotterill wins this dubious accolade.

Posted in barry town united, risca united, welsh league | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Retro Programme: Pontypridd Town vs. Bridgend Town. 26th September 1992.

I moved house over the Summer and came across a load of my old football programmes I used to collect as a kid.

Unfortunately the amount of times I’ve moved house since my teens has meant I’ve lost a big proportion of the amount I used to have and was even more gutted to find I’d lost the majority of those handed down from my late Grandfather and Uncle from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Over the next couple of weeks before the year eventually comes to an end and the blog comes to a respectful demise I’m going to sort out the rest of the programmes and hopefully get at least a few of the more locally interesting ones online.

I’m going to start with this interesting find from the bottom of a cardboard box. It’s a match day programme from a 1992 Abacus League match between Pontypridd Town and Bridgend Town at Ynysangharad Park.

Bridgend Town went on to merge with Bryntirion Athletic some twenty years later to form current Welsh League Division One outfit Penybont.

What makes this cool is that this match day programme comes from Pontypridd Town’s first ever match at Ynysangharad Park as Pontypridd Town.

The club formed initially in 1991 as a merger of sorts between existing clubs Ynysybwl and Pontypridd Sports & Social Club. Going under the name of Pontypridd & Ynysybwl AFC they played their football in Ynysybwl for one season before moving to Ynysangharad Park for the 1992/93 season and renaming themselves Pontypridd Town.

It’s so interesting to read the ex-Chairman’s notes about his future ambitions for the club, “including one day a ladies’ team” which has actually come to fruition in recent years.

I’m also pretty intrigued by some of the adverts in the match day programme. I’ve lived within 5 miles of Ponty Park for the vast majority of my life so it’s cool seeing which businesses have survived the preceding 23 years (Llanover Arms, Pontypridd YMCA, Pontypridd Observer) and those who sadly went by the wayside (The Globe, Taff Ely Council and Sportsflair).

Despite remembering going to this match my memory has sadly failed me regarding the result or anything about the game at all. So if anyone out there has any recollection about this game, I’d love to hear from you.

It would be great to find out if anyone recognises any names, players or anything else in the match day programme.

(Note: I’ve since learned from a reader named ‘Pooley’ that the match actually ended in a 1-1 draw with Bridgend Town’s Virgil Griffith scoring their goal. I’ve messaged a few players involved in the game on Facebook but as yet have heard nothing back – probably I suspect because they weren’t expecting messages from a loser asking about a game they played in 23 years ago!)

Please click on the images below to view a larger version of that image.

Posted in penybont, pontypridd town, retro, welsh league | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Match 92: 09/11/2015. Coleg y Cymoedd 7-2 Merthyr College. Association of British Colleges Premier Cup, First Round.

Monday 9th November.
Coleg y Cymoedd 7-2 Merthyr College.
Association of British Colleges Premier Cup, First Round.
Cambrian Lakeside Sports Academy, Clydach Vale
Attendance: Circa 10.

It’s hard growing up in south Wales as a footballer and a football fan.

Being someone of my age (33) I suppose I was one of the last lot of kids growing up in south Wales to experience the old ‘Rugby Master’ in school.

DSC_0017

The ‘Rugby Master’ is something that doesn’t really exist nowadays in the modern education system and whenever I speak to younger cousins or family members still in the education system they don’t seem to recognise the description I give them.

Every Welsh school pre-1996 had one of them. If you went to a secondary school in south Wales before that time, I’ll wager you had one too?

The P.E teacher that didn’t even acknowledge football as a real sport.

DSC_0013

He’d happily have you out on the pitch in the soaking November rain, running the length of a muddy rugby field passing the ball back and forth or lecturing the fine art of the maul and ruck as he grabs you by the scruff of your collar and questions why you don’t have the skills of Ieuan Evans or Rupert Moon as you pass yet another ball forward not really understanding why you can’t pass the ball forward when it is such an intrinsic part of the game of football.

Whichever school or college you went to, that egg-shaped ball obsessed character always came in the same form. He was a different person, of course, but the ‘Rugby Master’ shared a few things in common with each other.

DSC_0011

The ‘Rugby Master’ was always around 50 to 60 years old. He always had wavey short hair. ‘Rugby Masters’ didn’t have the time to worry about their appearance. He always had a moustache. He believed in the beautiful tactic of kick and run. He believed your ability to push on in a scrum dictated what kind of person you were and whether you would be successful in life. He always wore a 1970’s Adidas tracksuit that by now was struggling to contain the beer belly he’d accumulated from too many weekends down the Rugby Club. He hated every single sport that wasn’t Rugby Union. He hated Rugby League because it was a ‘girly sport’.

I’d later find out from speaking to friends at university that lots of schools in England also had one of these, amazingly despite teaching in England – he’d have a Welsh accent too. Behind coal, the ‘Rugby Master’ must have been the second biggest export of the Welsh economy in the 1970s and 1980s.

DSC_0020

Welsh teaching colleges in the 1970’s must have been dishing out ill fitting Adidas tracksuits and moustaches on graduation days such was the number of them filling up PE teacher roles across the country.

What set the ‘Rugby Master’ aside from other characters was the sheer disdain they held for the sport of Association Football. To the ‘Rugby Master’ if you were a ‘footballer’ you were the worst kind of person known to man. Rugby epitomised manliness and strength to these characters, whereas Football represented diving, cheating and everything that was wrong with the modern world.

DSC_0041

Our ‘Rugby Master’ hated the sport so much he called it ‘Soccer’ just to annoy those of us with a penchant for the spherical ball. We’d do six months of Rugby every year, six weeks of Cricket, six weeks of Swimming, six weeks of Tennis, six weeks of Javelin and Shot Putt and a mere two weeks of football at the end of term – as long as exams didn’t get in the way!

With the ‘Rugby Master’ at the helm of the school’s P.E department ‘Soccer’ was limited to a couple of sessions in the Summer, on the concrete tennis courts, played with a netball.

DSC_0042

There were no coaching sessions, no training, no fitness work, no small sided games. ‘Soccer’ in school consisted of separating 45 boys into two roughly equal sides of shirts and skins and playing a game that would always end 23-14 to the victors. If you ‘got stuck in’ and did ‘sliding tackles’ on the concrete surface the ‘Rugby Master’ would think you were brilliant. If you even considered attempting to use any form of skill, he’d single you out as some kind of ‘Diego Maradona-wannabe’ and made to do laps of the courts.

As a ‘football kid’, I suppose this is why I held such a disdain for P.E at school. I’d come from a primary school which had a very good football team. We trained once a week, we played football every break time and lunch time. We won regional tournaments. A couple of us, myself included, went on to represent Rhondda Schoolboys as we travelled up to play sides representing Brecon Schoolboys and Wrexham Schoolboys.

So it was weird for me moving on to the ‘big school’ only to find that Football, my beloved sport, was an afterthought.

DSC_0043

The football boys in our secondary school grew tired of being treated as second class citizens. The rugby team would train twice a week, play games every Wednesday afternoon all over the country whilst the football boys were left without a team for the first two years and when the ‘Rugby Master’ was finally convinced by the Headteacher to run a football team, he filled it with the quicker and smaller lads from the rugby team, regardless of the fact they weren’t footballers. He had his favourites and that was how he run things.

It alienated the football boys, who by now completely gave up on ever representing their school and concentrated instead on their club teams outside of school.

DSC_0044

The ‘Rugby Master’ however didn’t end it there. This was back in a time where to be able to play for a domestic club outside of school you had to have your Headteacher and your Head of P.E sign a form allowing you to play for your ‘out of school team’. That rule may still exist, it’s been fifteen years since I last set foot in a sixth form classroom.

I remember one September, when the forms needed to be signed again for another season. Daryl, one of my friends from primary school, and I went to visit the ‘Rugby Master’ one lunch time to get our forms signed to allow us to continue playing our football outside of school, for Penygraig Boys’ Club and AFC Porth respectively.

“Sir, can you sign our football forms?” Daryl asked.
“Soccer forms? Why would I do such a thing?” The grump would reply.
“Sir, it’s so we can play for our club teams outside of school” I replied.
“Now why would I do that when you don’t even bother turning up for training for the school side?”

DSC_0060

This sort of epitomised the old moaner really. It was funny because at the time my friend Daryl was on the books at Cardiff City (his family later migrated to Australia where he ended up having a pretty decent semi-pro football career), had people sniffing around him from Premier League clubs and I had only just started training with the Stoke City youth system a couple of times a months after having spent a year on the books at Cardiff City. (Stoke City at this time were a fairly poor side muddling their way through the Football League. They were probably only marginally better than Cardiff City who were so poor back then – so don’t take that paragraph as any kind of dazzling endorsement of how good I was back then! Both sides are completely different outfits nowadays to what they were in the Mid 1990’s!)

Yet we were being kept out of our school football team by a team of front row giants!

DSC_0067

Eventually as our school careers progressed the old guard of 1970’s P.E teachers were gradually replaced with newer models. These new teachers were young, enthusiastic, energetic, fresh P.E teachers who were themselves fit individuals who could actually run faster and play football better than you.

These teachers would actually go out on cross country runs with us, they’d get involved in our football games, they’d teach us how to throw a javelin without going through the motions, they’d even go as far as to try and find a suitable position on the rugby field for us footballers rather than dismiss us as some kind of subhuman freak.

DSC_0071

As soon as this new model of P.E teacher arrived at our school funny things started to happen. The better footballers were suddenly invited back to training, we’d find we actually had football matches scheduled for us and low and behold the school actually started entering teams into cup tournaments!

Sadly by the time has had happened, a lot of the strong footballers had already left school at 16 to get a job or move on to college. My injured knee which required a bit of surgery during my teens stripped me of my usual attacking midfield/No.10 position and I was holding down the role as captain of the school side in a defensive midfield/Roy Keane sort of role.

DSC_0070

You may wonder why I’ve just gone on a 1000 word diatribe that seemed to be pretty much completely about an old P.E teacher I despised?

I guess it’s to give some kind of perspective of how much things have changed.

I just logged on to my old school’s website and found that they now run two football teams for every academic year and the first team of each year is involved in multiple cup competitions, tournaments, a league competition and they train on a 3G pitch!

DSC_0073

Which makes a massive difference from our 6 friendlies a year!

All this leads me on to why it is so refreshing and great to see the likes of Coleg y Cymoedd and Merthyr College going through an intensive warm up 45 minutes before kick off at Clydach & Cambrian’s 3G surface.

I’d heard a lot about the set up at Coleg y Cymoedd from one of their players Owain Morgan, whom I watch a lot of at Pontypridd Town and it made me 1) Amazed at the progress of sport in the education system and 2) Very very jealous of the progress of sport in the education system.

DSC_0084

In fact as I watched the players being put through their paces by coach Al Lewis I realised I’d already watched a lot of the Coleg y Cymoedd side already this year.

Coleg y Cymoedd (and I stand to be corrected here) is the new amalgamation of a number of colleges in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area. Back in the heady days of my teenage years, the place was known as Pontypridd College. A number of mergers with local colleges have lead to the institution being rebranded ‘Coleg y Cymoedd’.

DSC_0091

The likes of Josh Maksimovic, Connor Wescombe, Callum Evans, Jamie Crisp and Joe Evans I’ve watched in the Cambrian & Clydach Academy, most notably when they absolutely tore a full strength Treforest adult side to shreds in a pre-season tournament at the very same venue.

Looking at the teamsheet provided to me kindly by the Cymoedd coaches I also realised that I’d very much probably seen AFC Porth player Lewis Chapman previously as well.

DSC_0112

I was also more than aware of midfielder Owain Morgan who plays his football at my club of choice Pontypridd Town. Owain has kicked on greatly this season after a back injury kept him out of action for large parts of the last year and has already found himself breaking into the starting eleven at the club at the age of 17. I’ve seen him nutmeg Welsh Premier League players, so I was very interested to see what he’d be like on a field of players his own age and his own size.

The weather was terrible to be fair and had this game not been played on a 3G surface I’m confident in saying there would have been absolutely no chance of the game going ahead.

DSC_0115

The Association of British Colleges Premier Cup is a knockout tournament that starts at a regional level for several rounds before, I presume, becoming a national tournament. It’s hard to say, the website is a little difficult to navigate around.

So when I take up my position under cover from the rain in the main stand at the ground, watching Cymoedd put the finishing touches to their warm-up routine under the watchful eye of a video camera, recording the match to be analysed later in the classroom I think about my old ‘Rugby Master’ and how he’d be rolling in his retirement home watching this, screaming at us to ‘get stuck in’, ‘leave a mark on him’ and chastising us for not stretching our hamstrings enough.

DSC_0123

This afternoon’s game pits together Coleg y Cymoedd and Merthyr College. Both colleges enjoy a close working relationship with the University of South Wales and are indeed being watched closely from the stand by Steve Savage, Head of Football at the University. I say a brief hello to Steve, who comments that he’s here on official business scouting out some of the players that could be involved in his first team come next September.

Coleg y Cymoedd and Merthyr College both belong to the Category 2 league of the ECFA Wales set up and both sides have had mixed fortunes so far this season.

DSC_0127

Cymoedd have proved to be early pacesetters in the league, sitting in second place with three wins and two draws and a game in hand over leaders Bridgend College with whom they drew 2-2 last week.

Merthyr College have found things a little more difficult this season, they currently sit bottom of the table with four losses from their four games so far. However it’s often said that with cup competitions league positions often go straight out of the window.

The game started at a furious pace with Cymoedd pinning Merthyr back on their eighteen yard line for the majority of the first ten minutes. The Cymoedd midfield, in particular the likes of Andre Maia, Owain Morgan and Declan Hansen-Spure played the ball quickly to feet and moved the ball at pace.

DSC_0095

Early chances fell to Lewis Chapman and Owain Morgan that were well saved by Merthyr’s goalkeeper who would later go on to produce some excellent saves throughout the game.

After enjoying the lion’s share of the early stages of the game Cymoedd took the lead midway through the first half after a corner kick caused mayhem in the Merthyr penalty area. After a bit of a goalmouth scramble AFC Porth player Lewis Chapman was on hand to head home from six yards out to give his side a 1-0 lead.

DSC_0102

Three minutes later Chapman was unlucky not to add to his initial goal when he beat two defenders and ran into the box at pace but his shot was tame and was fired straight at the goalkeeper. Cambrian & Clydach product Connor Wescombe was on hand to fire the rebound straight into the top left corner of the goal to double his side’s advantage.

Merthyr’s goalkeeper pulled off another great save in the 34th minute when Lewis Chapman latched onto a loose ball from a corner kick and looked to have added to his side’s earlier goals.

DSC_0139

In the 35th minute Cymoedd took a 3-0 lead when a lovely defence splitting pass was despatched to Owain Morgan, who showed why he is thought of so highly at Pontypridd Town when he calmly placed the ball around the oncoming Merthyr College goalkeeper from the edge of the box to send his side into a commanding lead.

Jamie Crisp was unlucky not to get himself on the score sheet with a lovely free kick taken from 25 yards out which looked to have beaten the Merthyr College goalkeeper only to go inches wide of the far post.

With a 3-0 scoreline going into the interval both sides took temporary cover from the heavy rain that was by now coming down heavily on the 3G surface.

DSC_0104

Merthyr College made their way back into the game in the 53rd minute when their No.7 produced a moment of class in rounding Cymoedd goalkeeper Flyn Woodward before unselfishly passing the ball across goal to his colleage, No.17 who was in a position where he’d find it harder not to score.

With the score now at 3-1 would Merthyr College find a way of fighting their way back into the game?

Three minutes later, unfortunately for Merthyr College, Cymoedd went on to restore their three goal advantage when a free kick from deep in his own half was placed perfectly by Scott Peacock into the path of Joe Evans who controlled the ball superbly before clinically slotting past the flailing Merthyr goalkeeper.

DSC_0103

Joe Evans would go on to score another goal five minutes later when a corner kick fell to him and he made no mistake from six yards out to give Cymoedd a 5-1 lead going into the last half hour of the match.

The commanding lead allowed the Cymoedd the luxury of mixing the lineup around and we saw the introduction of players like Conor Waters, Owain Sparkling-Jones, Iefan Ball and the aforementioned and highly rated Josh Maksimovic.

The Cymoedd defence were caught napping in the 65th minute and the team were still trying to find their positions on the pitch following the substitutions. Woodward, perhaps caught out by the rain that was now lashing onto the pitch let the ball slip from his hands at a corner kick only for Merthyr’s No.7 to fire home from six yards out.

DSC_0120

Joe Evans completed an unlikely hat-trick given his starting role in the defence in the 70th minute when another corner kick evaded everyone in the box and fell straight to his feet and he made no mistake in poking the ball home to give his side a four goal cushion and a 6-2 lead.

The final goal for Cymoedd came in the 80th minute when substitute Josh Maksimovic picked up the ball on the edge of the box and hit a lovely shot along the floor which caught the Merthyr goalkeeper out and went straight in the far left corner to give his side a 7-2 lead.

The final chance of note in the game fell to Dylan Hansen-Spure who went on a superb run, beating several men that deserved a goal for the run alone. Unfortunately Hansen-Spure was only able to look on in frustration as his shot cannoned back off the crossbar.

The referee brought the game to a close minutes later and Cymoedd sealed their passage into the second round of the tournament.

DSC_0110

Coleg y Cymoedd certainly have a team full of talented players and although this is the first game I’ve ever watched at this level, I’ll be very surprised if they don’t finish the season with some form of silverware.

Merthyr College were unlucky today in that they went up against a very talented side in very difficult conditions. They put up a very spirited performance when other sides would have rolled over and given up.

DSC_0061

If Merthyr College can play in the same manner against other sides, I’m convinced they give a fair few teams in this league a game.

I’d like to thank Coleg y Cymoedd for their hospitality, all at Cambrian Lakeside Sports Academy for hosting the game and I’d like to wish the very best of luck to all at Coleg y Cymoedd and Merthyr College for the rest of both of your seasons.

DSC_0057

I’m convinced that in five years or so, some of the names I’ve mentioned above will find themselves in the professional game.

Posted in aoc british colleges premier cup, coleg y cymoedd, merthyr college | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The One Where I Don’t Die (Yet)

I wrote a blog post a couple of months ago after I accidentally let slip on Twitter that I was being treated for a potential brain tumour following an oddity discovered during a routine eye test.

After a series of CT scans, ultrasounds, physical examinations and a number of appointments I’m now pleased to finally confirm that my Doctor has found no evidence of a brain tumour or anything life threatening in my CT scans.

eye-x-section-back-of-eye

Turns out I have a swollen optic nerve, probably the cause of most of the headaches I was suffering that made myself and the Doctors fear the worst initially. I’ve also got optic disc drusen (read as: little calcified bits at the back of my right eye), which will probably eventually lead to my right eye becoming pretty useless.

But the overall joy is that I’m going to be OK!

I know a lot of people found out about my health concerns and worried and the fact that I received messages of support and friendship from so many of you only goes to reaffirm my belief in the kindness and friendship of humans.

I will never forget everyone who expressed any concern for my well-being and owe you all one.

Thanks!

Nicky

Posted in personal | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Match 91: 07/11/2015. Port Talbot Town 2-0 Bangor City. Welsh Premier League.

Saturday 7th November (5.15pm).
Port Talbot Town 2-0 Bangor City.
Welsh Premier League.
Park Avenue, Aberystwyth.
Attendance: Circa 300

It’s often said in many quarters that the two of the best (if not the best) groups of supporters in the Welsh Premier League come in the form of Port Talbot Town and Bangor City.

These are fanbases that take a great deal of influence from the European ‘Ultras’ model of support. Both clubs have fanbases who stand, sing loud, sing proud, take pride in creating large, visually attractive banners and often sing chants that tend to take more of a ‘violent gospel’ form rather than the quite frankly boring Beach Boys – Sloop John B. cover versions that tend to get piped out seventy times per match at every other ground up and down this United Kingdom every Saturday afternoon.

DSC_0188

So a couple of months ago when I noticed this game had been scheduled for a late Saturday afternoon kick-off to accommodate Nicky John and the S4C Sgorio cameras I marked this match in my diary. The late kick-off also afforded me the opportunity to head to the nearby Penybont vs. Pontypridd Town match in the Nathaniel Car Sales Welsh League Cup, which kicked off at 1.30pm that afternoon.

I’ve watched Port Talbot Town a number of times this season, so I’ll skip the introduction to the club as any regular reader will no doubt be well versed in their history.

DSC_0189

The one thing I will mention are the in’s and out’s at the club since my last visit to the Genquip Stadium.

The club have gradually slid down the table since I watched them comprehensively beat a strong Aberystwyth Town side at the Genquip. The club have lost a couple of high profile players, namely in the form of stalwart returnee defender Cortez Belle. Bell started the season in fine form and seemed to be playing some of the best football of his career.

DSC_0211

His performances were always going to catch the eye and an offer from Merthyr Town, a side potentially only two seasons away from the Football League proved just too much for Belle to turn down.

Kaid Mohammed, a player who seemed to ooze class in his early performances for The Steelmen left the club to join Football League Division Two outfit Accrington Stanley, although it appears (albeit via Wikipedia) that he left Stanley after a mere three appearances and is now plying his trade at Conference South side Bath City.

Nicky John fills up before going on air.

Nicky John fills up before going on air.

Andy Dyer has pulled a bit of a trick out of his sleeve however in securing the services of ex-Swansea City legend Alan Tate.

Tate, a player who found himself released by The Swans after 13 years at the club. His loyalty to the club went unquestioned as he found his chances of first team football limited in his last two or three seasons. However instead of moaning about it in the press or requesting a transfer, Tate did the honourable thing and went out on loan whilst under contract with Swansea and attempted to put in performances that would make the likes of Michael Laudrup and Garry Monk change their mind about him.

DSC_0199

After being released in the Summer Tate was courted by a number of clubs in the Football League and a move back to his home town of Hartlepool was almost confirmed before Tate scuppered the deal when it meant he would need to move his young child from their current school in the Swansea area.

I’d spoken to Alan Howells, Afan Lido official at the earlier Penybont vs. Pontypridd Town match who told me that he got chatting to Andy Dyer during the week about the signing and Dyer told him that the club were hoping to seal the deal during pre-season only for the deal to come back to life now.

DSC_0210

Even writing this as a Cardiff City fan, I have to say that the signing of Alan Tate is a great signing not only for Port Talbot Town as a club but also the Welsh Premier League and the Welsh football pyramid overall.

The fact that players of the calibre of Alan Tate, Danny Gabbidon, Darcy Blake and (earlier) Lee Trundle are beginning to see the Welsh pyramid as a viable alternative way to bring their careers to a gradual close rather than checking out at some random Division Two club is a credit to the Welsh pyramid and will surely go some distance to convincing future retiring players to give their national league one last shot before they hang up their boots.

DSC_0198

It also does the league a world of good in the form of improved attendances, as tonight’s match shows. The attendance at the Genquip has certainly improved on the usual evening match attendance, Bangor City fans aside (they do travel in impressive numbers) I’d estimate there are easily 100 more spectators here than there would be for a televised S4C/Sgorio match.

No doubt a large chunk of those spectators are curious Swansea City fans hoping to catch up with one of their old heroes they haven’t seen much of since Swansea City arrived in the Premier League a few years ago.

DSC_0197

Bangor City are a side that I’ve wanted to watch for a long time. They have a strong history in the Welsh game and in the modern age the club have been ever-present in the Welsh Premier League since its formation in 1992 (albeit originally as the ‘League of Wales’)

They’ve actually put Wales on the footballing map a fair few times, the highlight of which coming in 1962 when after winning the Welsh Cup the side were drawn against Italian giants (and later the home of Diego Maradona) Napoli in the old European Cup Winners Cup (Boys of a certain age should read that as Europa League.. – and boys of an even more certain age should probably read that as Fairs Cup)

DSC_0220

Despite going into the tie as massive underdogs, the Welsh side actually beat the Italian giants 2-0 at home before losing the second leg 3-1 in Naples and going out of the tournament.

Now I know what you’re thinking – because I thought the same when I read about that result. Bangor City should have gone through on away goals!

DSC_0226

Unfortunately the away goals ruling was still but a daydream, much like the back pass rule and the tie went to a ‘play-off’ at Arsenal’s Highbury ground, which the Italian side won 2-1 with an 83rd minute winner that broke Bangor City hearts.

There’s a brief mention of Bobby Charlton briefly playing for Bangor City in the 1978 Anglo-Italian Trophy, although I can’t seem to find any photos of Charlton in a Bangor jersey on the Internet it seemingly did happen.

DSC_0227

The club were briefly managed in the late 1990’s by Nigel Adkins, the same Nigel Adkins who went on to manage the likes of Southampton, Reading and currently holds down the reigns at Sheffield United.

The club currently play their football at what has been described by many as the best current ground in the Welsh Premier League, Nantporth, which has also in recent years been known as The Book People Stadium and more recently the Bangor University Stadium.

DSC_0230

The club are currently going through something of a transitional period at their current point in history. After a number of successful seasons, the highlight of which coming in the 2010-11 season when after three consecutive seasons of winning the Welsh Cup the club went one step further and won the Welsh Premier League by two points over nearest rivals The New Saints.

Over the next handful of seasons, gradually diminishing returns lead to the side finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the Welsh Premier League before enduring a poor 2014/15 season in which the club finished a disappointing 10th position in the Welsh Premier League. A season in which the club were threatened with rumoured financial trouble and stories emanating from the club regarding rumoured missed tax payments and only a superb turn in form towards the end of the season confining Cefn Druids and Prestatyn Town to relegation to the Cymru Alliance instead.

DSC_0231

This season admittedly hasn’t been a great deal better for the Citizens this season, finding themselves just three points above Rhyl and Haverfordwest County in the relegation places and relegation remains a realistic threat this season. However speaking to a couple of Bangor City fans, they certainly feel confident that should they find themselves contending the last third of the season in the bottom half of the table following the league split then they would win enough games against their bottom half rivals to comfortably secure their Welsh Premier League status.

And so onto the game.

DSC_0249

After attending the earlier Penybont match five or so miles down the road in Bridgend I’d hoped that based on a 1.30pm kick off I’d be rolling into Port Talbot’s branch of Wetherspoons at about 3.45pm, ample time for a pint of Tuborg or a bottle of Punk IPA to wash down a vegetable burger before making my way over to the Genquip in my own merry time.

Sadly the referee chose to play thirteen minutes of injury time and Penybont managed to scrape an equaliser in the 102nd minute taking the game into extra time following a 4-4 draw. Eventually my hometown side Pontypridd Town deservedly went through on penalties with some fine penalties resulting in a 4-3 victory.

DSC_0261

Unfortunately by the time I got in my car at 4.30pm, I now had just about enough time to boot it down to the Genquip, park the car up and grab an infamous Port Talbot Town Chip Butty before taking up my usual seat in the Gerald McCreesh Stand.

I’m of course not moaning about the Port Talbot Town Chip Butty, it has after all become my favourite Welsh football snack. A sad fact is that if you actually Google ‘Port Talbot Town Chip Butty’, four of the top five search results are from this very blog and the other result is from my good friend Matt’s blog.

DSC_0187

I took my seat in the aforementioned Gerald McCreesh Stand before noticing that the Sgorio cameras were positioned only a handful of rows in front of me as they debated this month’s ‘Goal of the Month’ competition.

DSC_0264

Sadly, Nicky John is still nowhere to be seen. I’d later learn from re-watching the live broadcast I’d conveniently set to record that she was busy interviewing Port Talbot Town manager Andy Dyer.

Both teams emerged onto the pitch to undertake an impeccably executed minute’s silence in memory of those who gave their lives up for the freedoms we take for granted, which was a massive credit to both sets of supporters and players, especially considering there were so many young children at the game who perhaps didn’t have a full grasp on what they were taking part in.

DSC_0266

The game started slowly, perhaps I’d gotten myself settled in the furious end to end pace of the afternoon’s earlier game at The Kymco Stadium?

The first real chance of the game fell to the creative Port Talbot midfielder Jonathan Hood who broke into the box at pace but got a little excited in front of goal and launched a shot that cleared the clubhouse roof.

The first contentious moment of the game came in the 9th minute when Bangor City were awarded a free kick thirty yards out from goal after Matthew Long chopped down Bangor striker Christian Langos when he was turned away from goal.

DSC_0267

Sion Edwards launched his free kick deep into the Port Talbot Town box which was knocked on by the head of Leon Clowes and clinically dispatched into the back of the net by Adam Cummins past the flailing Steelmen goakeeper Steven Cann only to be ruled out for offside.

It was hard to see at the ground, in the stand. It all happened so quickly that I didn’t even consider the offside. I’d later learn that the linesman awarded offside as he judged Cummins to be coming back from an offside position when the free kick was taken but the Sgorio cameras later showed a further phase of play to start when Clowes knocked the header on. By this point Cummins was two yards onside, so this was certainly a bitter pill for the Bangor supporters assembled behind the goal in the Burns End to swallow.

DSC_0280

After something of a let off and a scare Port Talbot Town started to attack again, getting a lot of joy from the testing runs and pace of striker Martin Rose who often found himself with bags of space in the Bangor City half.

In the 18th minute Kurtis March brought the ball into the Bangor City half, passing the ball neatly to Chris Jones who laid the ball on perfectly for the deadly Martin Rose to curl the ball around the outreached arms of Connor Roberts (superb surname!) who could only look on in frustration as the Steelmen took a 1-0 lead which sent the Port Talbot Town Ultras in the Gerald McCreesh Stand into delirium.

DSC_0289

Bangor City barely had time to recover before they found themselves two goals down after a free kick taken by Port Talbot goalkeeper Steven Cann seemingly evaded the midfield before taking a wicked bounce and falling into the path of Jonathan Hood who slotted the ball around Connor Roberts on the edge of the box before coming back off the post and being unfortunately fumbled back into the Bangor City net by Bangor captain Sam Hart who could do little to stop himself from scoring an own goal.

Despite the two goal deficit Bangor City played their way forwards throughout the whole first half and were very unlucky not to pull a goal back when Christian Langos picked the ball up on the far right corner of the box and hit a stupendous effort goalwards that certainly tested Steven Cann to his limit before going just over the crossbar.

DSC_0293

The Port Talbot Town supporters certainly had the most to sing about in the first half as the Bangor City fans still seemed to be quite rightly outraged about the earlier offside decision.

The Ultras played some of their greatest hits and fan favourites as well as some stuff off their new album before completing their trilogy of love songs in dedication of every Welsh football fan’s favourite channel and favourite football babe.

DSC_0307

“S, S, S.4.C!” sang the Ultras.
“You can stick your Sky Sports up your arse!” sang the Ultras.
“Nicky John, my Lord. Nicky John. Nicky John, my Lord. Nicky John.
Nicky John, my Lord. Nicky John. Oh Lord, Nicky John” sang the Ultras, whilst Nicky John blushed about six yards away from me.

As the sides went in for the half time interval I entertained myself watching the somewhat late fireworks parties that were being held in gardens surrounding The Genquip Stadium (it’s the 7th!)

DSC_0310

Early in the second half, Bangor City looked to be denied a certain penalty when a Christian Langos shot inside the box was blocked by the feet of Alan Tate only for the ball to rebound off his boot and onto his arm.

The Bangor City fans, now standing behind the goal nearest to the clubhouse were outraged, but this was again one of those incidents where I only noticed what exactly happened when I watched the game back on S4C later that evening. I had by now moved myself to the other side of the pitch so I had a very poor view of this incident to say the least.

DSC_0316

Bangor again went close a few minutes when another piece of great play from Langos lead to the ball falling to the feet of Ryan Edwards who only had the goalkeeper to beat but hit his effort a little too close to Cann to really challenge him.

The final chance of note in the game fell to Adam Cummins who rose above his markers and headed a challenging effort towards substitute goalkeeper Conah McFenton (Steven Cann had gone down innocuously clutching his hamstring after a long range clearance and needed to leave the field) who saved the shot well with one hand but Cummins claimed the ball had crossed the line.

DSC_0320

As the referee brought the game to a close the relief and joy on the Port Talbot Town players’ faces was clear for all to see. Those players have had a rough time as of late after such a brilliant start to the season.

Although Alan Tate had a somewhat quiet game, his influence in the Port Talbot Town defence made them a great deal more resilient and a lot tougher to break down. They will certainly fancy their chances of making the top half of the table come the split early next year and look to kick on to guarantee European football at The Genquip next season.

DSC_0321

Bangor City will certainly feel disappointed with today’s result and their fans will feel sickened after a poor decision to disallow their first goal. They will surely be making the five hour journey back up North pondering what might have been had that first goal been allowed.

All credit to the Bangor City supporters, with the game finishing at a little after 7pm, it’s unlikely that any of them got home to bed until at least 3am and for that you absolutely have to applaud their devotion to their team.

There are very few teams in the north of the country who would manage to bring 50+ supporters down for a 5.15pm Saturday kick off and for that I applaud you all, each and every single one of you.

DSC_0301

I’d like to wish the very best of luck to both Port Talbot Town and Bangor City for the rest of their campaigns and hope to see you both again in the very near future.

Port Talbot Town I’ll no doubt see again in the extremely near future as (weather permitting) I hope to take in their away fixture at Aberystwyth Town next Saturday under the watchful eyes of the Sgorio cameras at Park Avenue.

What a superb surname...

What a superb surname…

My Man of the Match: Martin Rose, it’s easy to see why the Port Talbot Town fans claim that the guy is better than the great Pele and at times I’ve found myself believing that as well.

In all seriousness, Martin Rose did everything a striker should do perfectly this evening. He was clinical at times, he held the ball up well, he took the pressure off at times and he more than scared the Bangor City defence. Luckily, the S4C crew agreed with me and also awarded Martin the award.

Posted in bangor city, port talbot town, welsh premier league | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment