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The Welsh Hop 2013

Clown in the Moon

My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.

I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream.

Friday 23rd August 2013 Lock Stock Welsh Alliance k.o.:- 6.30pm
Division II

Greenfield                                  3
Liam Robinson 36,

Terry Jones 70 (pen),

Mark Johnson 86
Halkyn United                           0

referee:- Phil Hughes                                     attendance:- 263

The first match at Greenfield near Flint, was out of character with the rest of the weekend. For a start, the weather was dull and dreary with a stiff breeze and the ground had nothing attractive about it having been set down where once a Courtaulds factory stood. The pitch was bumpy and uneven which did little to enhance the quality of football.


We had all – those of us staying together for the hop – arrived earlier in the day at The University of Chester where we each had a room – with en-suite –  for the duration and two coaches to ferry us round to all the matches.


There was a choice of Kangaroo on the menu at Greenfield

This first match may have been a Division II match but Greenfield signalled their early season intent with a comprehensive 3-0 demolition of hapless Halkyn United. It was not a place, however, that many hoppers would put down in their top one hundred memorable grounds!


Saturday 24th August 2013 Lock Stock Welsh Alliance k.o.:- 10.15am
Division I

Llanfairpwllgwngyllgogerychwyndrobwllantysiliogogogoch       4
Kelvin Fraser 9, 47,

Stephen Smith 37,

Joe Vousden 70
Pwllheli                                                                                                          0

referee:- Peter Kewley (Rhyl)                                attendance:- 271


The longest Railway Station name in the world

Dragged from the depths of dreamless slumber and with barely stifled yawns, we boarded the coaches at the ungodly hour of 7.15am for the long drive to Ynys Mon (that’s Anglesey to the ignorant, uncultured oafs from England). We were staying on the island for four games in one day and what better place to start than ……………………….. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. We even had a fine breakfast booked there at the railway station!


The main stand at………you know where!

The weather relented for the rest of the weekend and the sun came out increasingly more boldly as the hop wore on! The home side (I’m not writing that name out again!) won fairly convincingly against a lacklustre Pwllheli side who have yet to win this season. This was the first of two games that would feature Pwllheli as the away team, and they were not the original opposition for this particular match. Llangefni had pulled out of the league and Pwllheli filled in at less than a week’s notice, despite having lost their manager and his assistant in that period!


The hosts were playing at a new venue and quite a few of the assembled hoppers had made the visit previously to the original ground in the centre of town. That ground is still used for reserve team fixtures.


The first of several penalty saves at games over the weekend!


Behind the goal at …you know where, wearing the number 90 on his shirt is Obersturmbanfuhrer Chris, mastermind of the weekend!

Saturday 24th August 2013 Lock Stock Welsh Alliance  k.o.:-  12.45pm

Division II

Gaerwen                                                        0

Penrhyndeudraeth                                      5

Paul Roberts 33, 79

Matthew Hughes 45 (pen)

Steven Jones 69, Liam Jones 88

referee:- GT Lewis (Llanberis)                             attendance:- 241


This was a little gem of a stadium, beautifully neat and tidy and festooned in black and red and with smashed slate used to cover the pathways. It had two or three tiny seated stands that each held up to ten people. The visit was all the more special for me, because I won a football in the raffle, a football signed by the entire Welsh football team, including the reputedly Real Madrid bound Gareth Bale!


Sadly the team did not match the stadium they graced! They were humbled by a Penrhyndeudraeth side who ran riot and should have scored more goals!


From left, Simon and Graeme in one of the mini stands at Gaerwen


Saturday 24th August 2013 Lock Stock Welsh Alliance  k.o.:- 3.45pm

Division I

Gwalchmai                                             5

Corey Sinnott 19

Marc Evans  36, 38 (pen) 82

Stephen Sinclair 52

Llanberis                                                 1

Rhys Parry 87

Referee:- Arwyn Griffiths                                          attendance:- 389


Clwb Pel Draed Gwalchmai

This game attracted the biggest crowd of the hop at Gwalchmai’s capacious stadium. They have two large covered terraces on the far side of the pitch and another on the nearside. They had provided a tent for the refreshments but by the time it was my turn in the queue, the cakes had all gone!


Most of the regulars were chattering away in Welsh, but they were able to  switch to English without blinking an eyelid. The aunt of two of the players – Marc Evans (scorer of a hat-trick) and brother Paul, spoke about being an islander. She worked in a Nursery School and her own two sons also played football, but only on Sundays, because of work commitments. She also taught me to pronounce the ‘ch’ in the middle of ‘Gwalchmai’ as a ‘k’! Lovely lady!


This time it was the home side who triumphed spectacularly at the expense of their highly fancied opponents and Marc Evans, a tall marauding striker was almost unplayable and at the heart of all the home sides attacking onslaughts. Both of the linesmen – Allys Clipham and Ceri Pritchard – were extremely competent.


Saturday 24th August 2013 Lock Stock Welsh Alliance   k.o.:- 6.30pm

Division I

Glantraeth                                                  3

Tom Taylor 25, 76

Craig Roberts 78

Llanrug United                                          2

Marvin Pritchard 16

David Noel Williams 90+3

referee:- Hugh Jones                   attendance:- 308


Our coach had some small difficulty negotiating the narrow lanes and thick overhanging vegetation on the way to Glantraeth. Once there, however, we were rewarded with a spectacular view behind the seated stand on the far side of the ground, of Snowdon, the tallest of eleven peaks that dominated the skyline. Better still, the club had provided gallons of a local ale from The Purple Moose Brewery and a fine pint it was, too. I sampled both the light and the dark versions!


It was a good even match with the home side deserved winners even though Llanrug’s last gasp goal made the score line a little more respectable. The late kick-off meant that even though there had been sunshine all day, it was getting quite dark when the match finally ended! Then after four cracking contests, we left Ynys Mon for the mainland across The Menai Straits and the long drive back to Chester!


Sunday 25th August 2013 Lock Stock Welsh Alliance   k.o.:- 12.00noon

Division I

Llandudno Junction                                     0

Holywell Town                                              5

Tom McElmeel 25

Graeme Williams 45

Sam Jones 54

Jamie Jones 73

Paul Williams 80 (pen)

referee:- Arwell Jones       attendance:- 302


Fortified with a substantial breakfast repast in the communal dining hall at the university, we girded our loins for another day of frantic football and boarded the coach for our first fixture at Llandudno Junction. The ground was called ‘The Flyover’, which was interesting because, try as I might, I could see no evidence of one in the vicinity. There was a small covered, fifty seater stand down one side and a covered area behind the goal at the entrance end of the ground. Cover, however, wasn’t really required, for the sun had burst through the early morning mists.


Llandudno Junction have not enjoyed the best of starts to the season, losing both their opening fixtures by 3-1 and 3-0. Matt Jones, their manager has a EUFA ‘B’ coaching license and is football development officer for Wrexham FC. During the first half his voice could probably be heard in Wrexham as he urged his charges on to greater efforts. All to no avail, unfortunately, for despite his best efforts, they went in 0-2 down. It got worse in the second half when the tirade noticeably slackened, and at the final whistle his team trudged off having been soundly thrashed by their opponents, Holywell Town. Their season, even at this early stage, looks decidedly bleak!




Arwell Jones was the referee and he was reputed to be a stickler and very officious. However, on the evidence of this game, he looked to be an excellent referee, direct and confident and when he blew his whistle, you could probably hear it in Wrexham, too!



Sunday 25th August 2013 Lock Stock Welsh Alliance   k.o.:- 3.00pm

Division I

Glan Conwy                                              1

Mereck Knight 51

Nefyn United                                           1

Carl Jones 4

referee:- Mike Gilham (Denbigh)        attendance:- 305


Our next adventure was beside the seaside with Conwy Castle on the other side of the bay. There wasn’t much to this ground which had no cover but some good vantage points, especially on a high grassy bank behind one goal.


The locals had made special efforts for the bands of hoppers. There was a speciality of ‘Cowl’ broth, made from chunks of potato and vegetable with lamb in a thin watery gruel, but very tasty with a chunk of baguette.


The announcer fancied himself as the ‘Terry Wogan’ of local football. He was quite entertaining at times and kept up a constant patter throughout the game!


Glan Conwy started off like runaway train and were in front in four minutes and on top for the rest of the half. Early in the second half, Nefyn United, rather fortuitously managed to squeeze an equaliser and then comfortably held their opponents at bay until the final whistle.


Sunday 25th August 2013 Lock Stock Welsh Alliance k.o.:- 6.15pm

Division I

Llanrwst                                                           0

Bodedern Athletic                                           0  

referee:- Peter Kewley (Rhyl)           attendance:-  370




Oh Dear! This was not the best game of the hop! The beautiful setting of the ground surrounded by mountains and sharing a pitch with the cricket team (who appeared to perform at a high standard in the ECB pyramid) and with a fine seated stand dominating one side of the stadium, was offset by the performance of the two teams on the evening. To be fair,  both teams contributed to what was a pretty dour, negative, defensive tussle, and, long before the end, the familiar phrase ‘this game has 0-0 written all over it’ could be heard in every part of the ground.






It was a pity, because the locals had done their best to entertain the hoppers. There was a beer tent and curry and chilli-con-carne were on offer as well as tea, cakes and biscuits. After the match, it was still over sixty miles back to Chester, but now there were, sadly, only three games left!

Monday 26th August 2013 Lock Stock Welsh Alliance   k.o.:- 11.00am

Division I

Denbigh Town                                                  4

Mike Lundstram 27

Kristian Piercr 30, 72 (pen), 75

Barmouth & Dyffryn                                      0  

referee:- Lawrence Jones (Hawarden)       attendance:- 285


Denbigh Town had spent considerable sums of money on their ground during the close season. A brand new £38k fence covered three sides of the ground (the fourth was hedged) and red paint had been liberally spread across much of the fixtures and fittings. The ground had a large seated stand on one side of the pitch and, bathed in warm sunlight, it looked a pretty impressive arena.


Up on the hill behind one goal was the remains of Denbigh Castle and lower down were the ruins of the wall which, in medieval times, had surrounded the town. The pitch looked good enough to play bowls on and the club had gone to town with large black posters welcoming the hoppers to their match.


The home team have won all their three opening fixtures without conceding a goal. Midway through the second half, however, there were strong and, in my opinion, legitimate claims for a penalty to be given against them, but the referee thought otherwise. Ten minutes later, he warded the home side a penalty for an entirely innocuous looking challenge.




Kristian Pierce was man of the match. He scored the penalty emphatically and added two more goals towards the home sides 4-0 victory.


Monday 26th August 2013 Lock Stock Welsh Alliance   k.o.:- 2.30pm

Division I

Llandyrnog United                                              1

Josh Davies 4

Pwllheli                                                                 1

Meical Williams 40

referee:- Matthew Bridges                                   attendance:- 232


Only three miles down the road from Denbigh is the tiny village of Llandyrnog and we arrived there in the sweltering heat to find that all the village pubs were closed! One enterprising landlord saw the lie of the land an opened up and was rewarded for his enterprise with a flood of hoppers, yours truly included, who kept his entire family busy right up until kick-off (and, I suspect, at half-time, too).


The small stand behind the goal from the outside



The view from inside the small stand behind the goal. We growled at passers-by!

The ground sloped alarmingly and quite steeply towards the bottom end of the ground. There was a small seated stand for perhaps fifty spectators to the right and behind the goal and a very tiny terrace just round the corner alongside the pitch. It might have been interesting if there had been a thunderstorm, but , in fact, the weather was beautiful.


Pwllheli were the opponents, and for the second time this weekend they were a visiting team. It seemed after four minutes when the home team, playing up the slope, opened the scoring, that poor Pwllheli were in for another thrashing. Not so, however, late in the half, they equalised and playing uphill in the second half, the defended with courage and determination and thoroughly deserved their point, their first point of the season!


The Division II Championship trophy, won by Llanyrgon last season!


Monday 26th August 2013 Lock Stock Welsh Alliance  k.o.:- 6.00pm

Division II

Meliden                                                             2

Dean Moss 35

Darren Cassidy 75

St Asaph                                                          0

referee:- Nathan Jones (Denbigh)   attendance:- 323


The final match of The Hop was held at Meliden, a small ribbon development outside Prestatyn, with a large housing estate behind the football pitch. During the afternoon, before our arrival, they had held a Gala on the playing field and there were still stalls down one side of the pitch when we got there. The ‘ground’ was no more than a council owned community area with a railing all round it. The players and officials used a portakabin adjacent to the school behind one goal.


This was supposed to be a match with some needle attached. Listening to supporters from Denbigh Town, you would have thought that the Meliden players created dangerous mayhem wherever they went and with the away team providing the other half of a local ‘derby’, a feisty encounter was anticipated. Not a bit of it! I don’t think there was a single booking, not even a dangerous tackle and Dave from Reading was bemoaning his fate. Having been promised a contest of lions with raw meat, all he got was a couple of pussycats and a ball of wool!




Yours Truly with The Welsh FA Cup at Meliden!

Until Meliden scored their second goal around five minutes from time, the game had been very even and Laurence even suggested that the scores should be level just seconds before the fateful second strike from Meliden! On the touch line we were all at sixes and sevens as substitutes came and went and we couldn’t get their numbers and there was even some dispute about the scorer of the first goal. Perhaps the previous ten games were catching up on us like jet-lag as we crawled to the finishing line!


It was a very successful weekend. It did help that the weather was generally fine and sunny whilst the rest of the country seemed to be squelching through a monsoon. All the clubs and their officials had gone out of their way to make us welcome and FAW officials descended like confetti at most matches.

Our leaders gave the impression of floating serenely like swans on the river whilst paddling furiously beneath the surface! However, for this (and the many other ‘hops’ that Chris organises) the hard work had been done much earlier in the year. The negotiations for accommodation and transport and the guidance for the Alliance clubs, so that they could maximise their opportunities had been cajoled, coaxed and choreographed over many months. The result was a weekend brought expertly to the boil at precisely the right moment.


Chris and Laurence Masters of all they survey, a pas de deux at Llanrwst!

Like all hops, this one, too, flashed past like an express train passing through minor stations, with hardly the opportunity to draw breath before the next match was produced like a rabbit out of a hat (how’s that for mixed metaphors?)! It was good to get back on the gold standard after the minor infarctions of the previous  hop which lacked the professional expertise that Chris and Laurence always bring to their events. I have no doubt that even amongst the best laid plans of mice and men, there will be minor glitches………………… but they never seem to happen to me, except ………. for the ball in that awful match at Llanrwst which hit me full in the face, or ……………  the line of muddy footsteps that I brought in from the car park and led straight to my room!

I should make a special mention of Graeme, who brought me in his car to Chester and took me home on the final evening. He put up reasonably serenely with all my many foibles, my polite requests to the referee to get the game started on time, to bring on the mid-wife for every injured player, or to dig a hole should the injury prove lengthy, to mention but a few!

And let’s not forget our intrepid coach drivers!


Colin and Neil, the coach drivers! 

Ah, well! Hears to the next time!!!!





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