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Like a Wolf on the Fold

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824)




Tuesday 4th March 2014 Chromasports & Trophies United Counties League KO 7.45pm

Premier Division

Desborough Town                                               2

Connor Kennedy 9,

Michael Byrne 23,

Yaxley                                                                    4

Andy Furnell 29,

Scott Carter 62,

Luke Hipwell 82, 85,

Referee:- Wayne Bright (Ringstead)              Attendance:- 61


Before the Assyrian descended, I took in a visit to one of my favourite UCL grounds and met up with John, and Mike and Ian and the rest for an evening of football banter and conversation with ‘Ar Tarn’ battling it out against Yaxley in the background and with one of my former pupils, Aidan Bradshaw turning out at number 5 for the home side.


‘Ar Tarn’ were not at their best this evening. They carved out a two goal lead inside the first twenty-five minutes, but the experienced Andy Furnell pulled one back for the visitors minutes later. That was how it stayed until just after the hour mark, when The Cuckoos at last drew level and began to exert their superiority. Two goals in the last six or seven minutes eventually killed off the stubborn resistance of the home side and provided the visitors with all three points!

Wednesday 5th March 2014 Nathaniel Cars Welsh League  KO 7.45pm

Division 3

Lliswery                                                                          1
Max Fessey 10,
Treowen Stars                                                                2
Lewis Cooke 16,
Lloyd Dando 47,
Referee:- G Lucas                                                      Attendance:- 42



The ‘hawks’ were gathering and it was time to descend on South Wales – to Glamorgan, in fact, for three warm up matches in The Welsh League lower divisions. Chris, it was, who drove Graeme and I , collecting John at Birmingham International Railway Station and beetling off to Bridgend, where we had rooms booked for a couple of nights at The New Inn Guest House.


The first match,. on a rainy evening, was on the plastic surface at Spytty Park, home of Lliswery FC of The Welsh League, Division 3. This was their first season in The Welsh League, having gained promotion, last season, as champions of The Gwent County League.

Spytty Park hosts a velodrome and also, one of the former homes of Newport County. At first, it seemed that we may have come to the wrong place as the astroturf pitch was in full use by large numbers of young children. However, they drifted away and we went into the small bar, where programmes were available (not the one in full colour, Graeme, let them keep that one,  just take a black and white one, like everybody else!). We were able to see the team sheets and copy them down into our jotters and eventually, we went out to brave the elements on a very wet evening!


Fortunately, there was a mobile stand with perhaps fifty or sixty seats in it, down one side of the pitch and it was from here that we viewed the action.

Lliswery  have made a pretty good fist of their first season in The Welsh League. They lie in seventh place, whilst their opponents are languishing three places and three points off the bottom of the league. It was no surprise, therefore, when the home side took the lead early on. What was a surprise was the equaliser scored just six minutes later and then a second goal for the away side at the beginning of the second half. Thereafter, try as Lliswery might, they could find no way through, round or over a resolute Treowen defence. The away team went home with a well deserved victory!

Thursday 6th March 2014 Nathaniel Cars Welsh League  KO 7.00pm

Division 2

Cardiff Met University                                            3
Joe Chaplin 47 (pen)
Lyle Hickman 71,
Adam Roscrow 88,
Dina’s Powys                                                           0
Referee:- Phil Thomas                                                Attendance:- 79


On Thursday morning, Chris treated us to a tour of what had once been his home town. Ewenny Priory, now in private hands, but maintained by The Welsh National Trust, was well worth the visit and we also went to see the storm ravaged sea barriers and took in the extensive damage that could be wreaked by the angry waves. Piles of stone had been washed onto the car-park and strewn across the pathway which hugged the cliffs. There were no postcards to be had! I always send postcards whenever I am away, sometimes up to twenty cards, but this time, try as I might, there were none to be found anywhere, all week! We ended up at my favourite hostelry, a Toby Carvery, and, as usual, I made the most of it, piling a plate precariously high and laying a light dusting of pepper over it all


Cardiff Metropolitan University have some truly spectacular sporting facilities, including a full sized, indoor running track. Round the back of the vast sports hall was the 3G or 4G pitch used by the university football team and beyond that (although not on plastic) is the rugby pitch. The football ‘arena’ had a stand  – one of those temporary affairs – with around a hundred and twenty seats, which provided the only cover from the elements on an evening of heavy rainfall. Sitting in the stand, in lonely isolation was Adam Roscrow’s mum.  She’d come to see him play, only for him to be named as a substitute. He is a first year BSc student who has had playing experience with Llantwit Major and he did come on, midway through the second half, and scored a goal as well!


Dinas Powys, the opposition, is a small dormitory town, some four miles south and west of Cardiff. The last ten years has seen them scale the heights and plumb the depths of The Welsh League, with the high point being a runners-up spot in The Welsh League first division in 2002/03.



This evening, they were no match for the students. They held them until half time, but thereafter, it was just a question of how soon and how many. They showed little evidence of attacking prowess and the students notched up a regulation 3-0 victory which was largely sterile watching!

The following day, we left Bridgend and set out for Carmarthen

DSCN3209Chris, our merry leader, in the lavish hotel suite he had reserved for himself (at punters’ expense, of course!!) in The Ivy Bush Royal Hotel in Carmarthen. It had bedroom, bathroom, sitting room and balcony. It was here that the lowly slaves put together the programme and metal badge packages for the forthcoming ‘hop’.DSCN3235

On the left, Graeme, relaxing after a heavy day at the office. On the right is John, who accompanied

us in Chris’ leather-seated limousine, down to South Wales.

Friday 7th March 2014 Nathaniel Cars Welsh league  KO 7.45pm

Division 3

Llanelli Town                                                             3
Jamie Evans 22,
Liam Samuel 37,
Declan John 73(pen),
Cwmaman Institute                                                   1
Nathan Jenkins 57,
Referee:- Benjamin Williams                                     Attendance:- 257


After settling into The Ivy Bush Hotel in Carmarthen and completing all the preparations for the ‘hop’. we drove out to Caerphilly to collect the coach, which then collected the hoppers from Cardiff Station. Laurence, in the meantime, drove some of us straight to Llanelli for the evening match. It was good to get there early and to see the stadium in daylight. It is a fine ground, looking a little worn in parts, but very impressive. The  outstanding feature is the huge main stand which probably holds around fifteen hundred spectators. On the opposite side is the tall gantry which seems to be a regular at major Welsh football grounds and appears to be for television purposes. Next to that are the additional seats installed to comply with EUFA regulations. It seems hard to believe that barely three years have passed since Llanelli were entertaining Dynamo Tbilisi in European football!


Since those heady days, of course, the club has gone bankrupt. They rent time on the football pitch along with several other users, from Llanelli Town Council and they had expected to begin this season outside of The Welsh League. Barry Town, another club thrown out by The Welsh FA, took the authorities to court and won their case. Llanelli couldn’t afford to pay for court action, but they benefited from Barry Town United’s determination and both were placed in the bottom tier of The Welsh League. It was a costly error of judgement  and a chastening experience for The FA of Wales!


Adjacent to the main stand is “The Jock Stein Lounge” named after the famous Celtic and Scotland manager who was sent down to Llanelli for a season in the early 1950s to further his football education. It is a visit that has never been forgotten! It was here that Chris had arranged a hospitality package for fifty of the hoppers with plenty of food and drink and a chat with club secretary Neil Dymock (and with club Chairman, David Craddock, also in attendance). Neil talked very forthrightly about the club’s plight and their (modest) plans for the future. They are desperately short of money, the players are paid expenses only but there is a determination to keep the club within its financial means.

DSCN3217 Because of their late entry into The Welsh League Division 3, Llanelli Town began their campaign with a fairly weak side. Although they are now almost up to speed, it seems unlikely that there will be a promotion this season. However, they are making steady progress with only two league defeats in their previous twelve games, and one of those, against Llanwern, the division’s current leaders.


Tonight’s match was against Cwmaman Institute who are relative newcomers to Welsh football having been formed in 1965.  They only reached The Nathaniel Cars Welsh Football League as late as 2007/08. In their short time in the league, they have played in all three divisions, but are now back in the basement!


All Welsh churches are dour edifices and this one, overlooking Stebonheath Park, is no exception! 

It was a good game with a comparatively large crowd. Llanelli looked to have won the game by half-time when they carved out a 2-0 lead. On the hour mark, Institute pulled a goal back and could have even drawn level, before the home side finished them off with a penalty from skipper Declan John in the 73rd minute.


Saturday 8th March 2014 Cynghrair Costcutter Ceredigion League  KO 10.30am

Division 1

Aberporth                                                                    3
Lion Griffiths 67,
Daniel Davies 84,
Matthew Smith 88(pen),
Crannog                                                                       2
Rhydion Roberts 11,
Steffens Jones 28,
Referee:- Wyn Roberts (Pencoder)                           Attendance:- 166


At last, the weather relented and there was to be no rain at all for the ‘hop’ weekend. It was, however, very cold and Aberporth, close to the coast, also had a biting wind which cut to the quick! From inside the coach, it looked a lovely day outside. Once you stepped out into the open, you realised just how looks can deceive!


Aberporth play on MOD land and have precious few facilities. In the top photograph, you can see the changing facilities for the teams (although there was some talk of money being raised to build new changing facilities). Across the road was a bar and toilets, and tea and coffee. It was a least somewhere to escape to, at half-time, to gain a brief measure of warmth!


The game was a good one! Aberporth were the under dogs and the visitors, Crannog, really ought to have won the match.  Crannog lie in fifth place in the division, whilst Aberporth are next to bottom. In the first half, all seemed to be going according to the form book. Crannog opened up a deserved two goal lead, playing down the hill and with the wind. At half time little thought was given to anything other than a regulation win for the visitors. Even then, with just over twenty minutes to go, when the home team pulled a goal back, it did little to dent the Crannog confidence, but it did add a little fire to Aberporth bellies!


On 84 minutes, the match was level (see above) and Crannog were clearly rattled. Two minutes from time, the visiting goalkeeper took out a home striker and from the resulting penalty, the home side scored to achieve a very unlikely victory which was nonetheless richly deserved!

Saturday 8th March 2014 Cynghrair Costcutter Ceredigion League KO 1.15pm

Division 1

Cardigan Town                                                           6
Ben Davies 19, 29,
Jack Thomas 52,
Dan Nash 73, 86,
Kevin Morgan 79,
New Quay                                                                    0
Referee:- Eirian Morgan                                         Attendance:- 224


The second match took us further down the coast to the seaside resort and former county town of Cardigan. Its Welsh name is ‘Aberteifi’  after the River Teifi on whose banks it stands.


Two hundred years ago, Cardigan was an important seaport with seven times the amount of shipping that Cardiff had (and three times the amount at Swansea). Today, it is a sedate, staid, coastal town with under five thousand inhabitants, over two thirds of whom are fluent Welsh speakers. On the map above, which shows Ceredigion, Cardigan is at the extreme southern end, close to the coast at the mouth of The river Teifi.


As at all of the matches on this ‘hop’, the ground was very heavy and soggy underfoot. The King George V Playing Fields, home to Cardigan Town, comprises two main pitches, one for rugby, which is floodlit and then, end on end, there is the football pitch. Both clubs are served by changing facilities and a bar adjacent to the pitches.

The club had erected  a marquee at the far end of the ground and were serving a Welsh delicacy – Cawl – which is a lamb broth with leeks and other vegetables and which went down very pleasantly with a good bottle of the local brew!

New Quay, the visitors, I had seen at their home ground two years ago (Saturday 10th March 2012 Cynghrair Costcutter Ceredigion League Division 1: New Quay 1 Maesglas 2 attendance:- 276) in a bad tempered match which saw two dismissals and the end of New Quay’s season long unbeaten run.

Today, the visitors were a shadow of their former selves. Cardigan Town, four points and three places better off than their rivals, systematically and clinically dismantled a poor New Quay side and were good value for their sizeable victory! The pitch was nothing to write home about, but much of that was probably due to the recent very wet weather. There were clumps of grass and very soggy patches across the pitch.


Saturday 8th March 2014 Cynghrair Costcutter Ceredigion League  KO 4.00pm

Division 2

Cilgerran Rovers                                                      1
Kyle Phillips 66(pen),
Llanon                                                                      0
Referee:- Peter Wilson                                             Attendance:- 226


The last match of the day saw the hoppers travel inland to Cilgerran for a Ceredigion League Division 2 match. The facilities put at the disposal of the hoppers were nothing short of magnificent. There was chicken curry, Cawl, roast pork and stuffing rolls. There was a raffle and a tombola and a fine selection of cheeses and ale on offer together with the usual club hats, shirts and other paraphernalia.


Care needed to be taken when walking round the pitch as there was water lying on the ground, covered by grass! The pitch on which the match was played was very poor. The grass was too long – so long, in fact, that several times the ball came to a full stop when normally it would have run out of play. There were undulations and sticky patches which could not have helped the players.


Llanon, the visitors, are rock bottom of the second division, having conceded an average of four goals per game. This match was quite the worst of the ‘hop’. Neither side could keep the ball  and there were precious few goalscoring opportunities.


The game was settled in the 66th minute by a penalty from Kyle Phillips (see above), but there was so little to choose between the teams that a draw might have been a fairer result!


Jack, fresh from  years abroad and eager to catch up on his football experience, with his trusty camera which records all the action!

Sunday 9th March 2014 Cynghrair Costcutter Ceredigion League KO 10.15am

Division 1

Bargod Rangers                                                                 3

Sam Skinner 2, 35,

Daniel Evans 76,

Maesglas                                                                             3

Johnny James 15, 38,

Bradley Irvine 29,

referee:- Alan Jenkins                                            Attendance:- 238


If last evening’s match was quite the worst of the two day hop, then, without doubt, this morning’s encounter must rank as the best! Still, it was a strange experience to find oneself in a small village in the middle of nowhere and not to know where you were! Even now, I am having very great difficulty in pinning down the location! Somewhere on The River Bargod, I think. Ah, it must be Velindre! It was a very pleasant village with an array of solid looking houses and not a great deal else, except for the park – Parc Puw – which housed the football ground.


I understood that Bargod Rangers had a scant two weeks notice of putting on this fixture following the demise of Llanybydder, the original choice for this morning’s match. If that is the case, then they really did manage the occasion with stunning efficiency. They drew the largest crowd of the ‘hop’ and turned it into a real family occasion with lots of children around and generally the females in control off the pitch!

The fact that this was the best match of the ‘hop’ was helped by the quality of the pitch and it was no surprise to hear that the ground had even hosted a Welsh Schoolboy International match in 1979, following extensive drainage and re-surfacing work undertaken by Aberystwyth University. Bargod Rangers are one of  five teams who began the inaugural season of The Ceredigion League back in 1921. They are also one of only three teams (along with Lampeter and Aberaeron) to have remained in the league for the ninety-three years since!




The match got off to a flyer with a goal inside two minutes from pint sized home striker, Sam Skinner. All the early indications were, that it would be a comfortable morning for the home team! How differently the match turned out. By the half hour mark, the visitors had taken the lead and another goal to each side meant that they had kept that lead to half time. They should certainly have had a penalty when one of their strikers was unceremoniously bundled to the ground inside the penalty area. It was such an obvious assault, yet the referee, after initial hesitation, brought the whistle towards his lips, changed his mind and waved play on.

In the second half, the play ebbed and flowed with some tasty confrontations and even a full-scale skirmish between two players which went unpunished by the referee. He did book six players in the match, two from the home side and four from the visitors, but I felt that, even so, he was unduly lenient. There should also have been another penalty in the second half, this time to the home team. Eventually, with fifteen minutes to go, the home side equalised and an exciting and eventful match ended with honours even.

Division 1                      P     W     D     L     F     A     +/-     Pts

NCE Reserves             13     10      2       1    38    16      22      32

Cardigan                     13       8      0       5    39   24       15     24

St Dogmaels                13       7       2      4    46    35       11    23

Llandysul                     14       7       2      5    45    36         9     23

Crannog                      13      6        2      5    33    29        4      20

Lampeter                    13       6        1       6    38    25      13     19

New Quay                   14       4        5       5    31     36      -5     17

Bargod                         15        4        4       7    28    38    -10     16

Aberporth*                 14        5         2       7    27    34      -7    14

Maesglas                     11        4         1        6   20    26      -6     13

Llanybydder* *            0        0        0       0      0       0       0        0

Aberaeron Res***      13        1         1      11     10     56    -46     -2

* three points deducted for failing to fulfil a fixture ** record expunged after Llanybydder withdrew from the league

*** six points deducted for failing to fulfil two fixtures

Sunday 9th March 2014 Cynghrair Costcutter Ceredigion League  KO 1.00pm

Division 2

Ffostrasol                                                                             2

Alun Bowen 57,

Carwyn Griffiths 87,

Dewi Stars                                                                          2

Andrew James 45,

Steffan Owens 90+1

Referee:- Gareth Evans                                            Attendance:- 166


The last match of the ‘hop’ was bathed in warm sunshine at the tiny hamlet of Ffostrasol  in Division 2 of The Ceredigion League. This time we moved from Bargod Rangers, south and east of Newcastle Emlyn to Ffostrasol which was quite a long way north and east of Newcastle Emlyn. This was the first ground, this weekend, where there was a covered and seated area for spectators. It may have been a dangerous structure, made of wood and with wooden benches for seats – it reminded Graeme of Bradford City’s disaster in the eighties  – and there was plenty of evidence of rubbish collecting on the ground under the benches! However, on a cold wintry day, it must be a godsend to the determined spectator!

Once again, the villagers and their wives and partners had pulled out all the stops. There was Cawl and bread and cheese. There were cheese sandwiches and ham sandwiches and tea and coffee and the usual raffle and most of all a very warm welcome from the locals. It made the last match just that little bit more nostalgic, for those of us of a sentimental disposition!


Dewi Stars and Ffostrasol are locked in mid-table mediocrity, but it was the Stars who had the better record with six points more than their rivals but only one place better off!


The pitch sloped from goal to goal and there was quite an incline, but it seemed not to affect the play. The visitors scored right at the end of the first half, but the hosts pulled one back shortly after half time. We had been bemoaning the lack of goals and awaiting the end of a dreary draw, when young Carwyn Griffiths came on with about five minutes to go for the home side. The young will o’ the wisp looked barely into his teens, but he lashed in a goal with three minutes left to send him  wheeling round the field in delight! However, one minute into added time, Dewi Stars restored parity, with a goal from Steffan Owens, which he seemed to take an age making his mind up to shoot, but eventually dispatched the ball into the roof of the net.


All that remained, was to thank our hosts and return to the coach. It had been an exhilarating experience, but, like all ‘hops’, it passed in a blur and a desperate attempt to hang onto the memories.

 Div 2   P W D L F A +/-
Felinfach 18 13 2 3 50 32 18 41
Saron 17 12 2 3 63 29 34 38
Llanboidy 14 12 1 1 64 24 40 37
Cilgerran 14 9 0 5 37 31 6 27
Dewi Stars 16 8 2 6 61 37 24 26
Ffostrasol 17 6 2 9 30 33 -3 20
St Dogmaels R* 15 6 2 7 45 40 5 17
Bargod R. 17 3 3 11 26 55 -29 12
SDUC 11 3 1 7 17 27 -10 10
New Quay R. 16 2 1 13 19 61 -42 7
Llanon** 15 2 2 11 20 63 -43 2

* three points deducted for failing to fulfil a fixture   ** six points deducted for failing to fulfil two fixtures.

The outstanding moments of the ‘hop’ were undoubtedly the appalling pitch at Cilgerran Rovers which was followed by the beautiful condition of Bargod Rangers’ ground in the very next fixture! Added to that was the carnival atmosphere at each of the grounds and the obvious effort and determination shown to make the most of their opportunity, not only for themselves and their team, but also for the visiting hoppers.

It was a cracking weekend. Chris (and Laurence), as usual, excelled themselves with the military precision of their organisation and logistics. For the ordinary punter like me, it was an opportunity to meet old friends and collect new grounds in a very congenial atmosphere.

I shall retain some very fond memories of this year’s trip to Wales! “Dewch i gefnogi eich timau lleol”, exhorted the Bargod Rangers flyer! We certainly did!

Here’s to the next time!

Matches this season:- 161   New grounds:- 110

Matches this year:- 43   New grounds:- 24

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