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Welsh Spring

Hen wlad fy Nhadau

(Land of My Fathers)

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad,
Dros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.

Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad.
Tra môr yn fur i’r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau.




Friday 6th March 2015  Welsh League  k.o.:- 7.45pm

Division 1

Briton Ferry Llansawel                                           3

Josh Cockings 9,

Gavin Jones 60,

Dean Hudson 73,

Garden Village                                                        0

Referee:- Phil Thomas                        Attendance:- 258


The long awaited day arrived. This was to be the final dip into The Cynghrair Costcutter Ceredigion League. Those of us who had started out four years ago at Lampeter Town, would now be completing all the current grounds in the league at Llanboidy on Sunday afternoon!

But first of all, there was a Friday evening hors d’oeuvre in Neath. I had driven the 232 miles down to Carmarthen in 208 minutes and then, having booked into The Ivy Bush Hotel, I drove  back along The A48 and M4 to get to the opening fixture!

Not far from the M4, but so well hidden that even the shining floodlights are hard to locate, Old Road, the home of Briton Ferry Llansawel of The Welsh League Division 1, had prepared a warm welcome for the visiting hoppers. Opposite the ground, the local school playground had been commandeered as a car park via a tight, narrow entrance.


The ground looked startlingly atmospheric before the match, with the stark, bare trees providing a backdrop behind the far goal. The club had prepared a repast of some distinction for the visiting ‘hoppers’, but I gather that I was rather fortunate to garner a programme!


Mid-table Briton Ferry (who merged with Llansawel in 2009) were far too good for Garden Village who are struggling in the lower reaches of the league. A goal in the opening ten minutes followed by two more half way through the second half, ensured a convincing and deserved victory for the hosts. It had been a very pleasant diversion on the eve of The ‘Hop”.


Saturday 7th March 2015  Ceredigion League   k.o.:- 10.15am

Division 2

Dewi Stars                                                           6

Steffan Owens 15, 23, 29, 37,

William Williams75,

Gethin Thomas 87,

SDUC                                                                    1

Billy Kennedy 45,

Referee:-  Nigel Edwards              Attendance:-  174


This was a lovely aspect, tucked away in the fold of a hill behind the village and with the church tower overlooking  proceedings.


St David’s University College (SUDC) are part of a South Wales University which has campuses at Lampeter and Swansea as well as Carmarthen. Today, the students looked short of training and lacking in match practice!


The small stand down one side of the pitch wasn’t needed on a bright, but sharp morning. The home side had 52 years old Robert Jones turning out for a rare appearance and he comfortably lasted for 83 minutes. A teacher, he said that he might come to one of the afternoon matches where some of his former pupils would be playing!


Surprisingly, this match drew the smallest attendance of the ‘hop’, but what it lacked in spectators it certainly made up for in goals! The hosts were three up inside half an hour – and all scored by Steffan Owens. He added a fourth before half-time, but the visitors replied and, playing up the considerable slope, the hosts went in to a comfortable 4-1 half-time lead.


It seemed that the hosts found playing down the slope more difficult, or maybe, the students came out for the second half with more determination than they had shown in the first! However, two late goals sealed the contest and the The Stars deservedly took the spoils!


The home side are in red!

Saturday 7th March 2015   Ceredigion League     k.o.:- 1.15pm

Division 1

Felinfach                                                               1

Kevin Taylor 69,

Bargod Rangers                                                   1

Matthew Terry 14,

Referee:-  Aled Davies / Rhys Steadman    Attendance:-  245


This was a game where the pitch resembled a giant upturned bowl. So steep was the decline from mid-pitch to touchline, that it was difficult to follow the play from one side of the pitch when the ball was on the far side!


There was a larger crowd than this morning, but the official figure of 245 seemed a little on the high side!


There was a building site on one side of the pitch and quite severe tractor tyre indentations on the other side of the pitch! The official referee didn’t turn up in time. Apparently, he thought the match kicked off at 2.15pm and he hadn’t taken into account the ‘hop’ weekend. The first half was refereed by the fixture secretary of the league – Aled Davies – and after half time, the official referee, Rhys Steadman, took over!


In truth, it was not much of a spectacle. The visitors had Dion Phillips playing for them after a recent appearance for Wales U18 v England, but even he couldn’t enliven proceedings. An outrageous goal from way out on the right wing crossed over a bamboozled goalkeeper and landed just inside the net via the post as the attentions of a team mate resulted in confusion over the scorer. It was credited to the right wing crosser of the ball and the visitors took a half-time lead.

Apart from a second half equaliser, the game plodded to a conclusion with the points shared.

As for this cake, I paid my money and guessed its weight, but I never did find out whether I got near to it or not. It was a beautiful creation and quite the best thing to come out of Felinfach this afternoon!


Saturday 7th March 2015  Spar Mid-Wales League   k.o.:- 4.00pm

Division 1

Aberaeron                                                         1

Daniel James 43,

Penrhyncoch                                                     2

Aiden Nyhus 8,

Dylan James 17,

Referee:- A. Thomas                Attendance:-  240


I think that we would all agree that we would prefer the old ground to the new. Aberaeron are only playing here at Ca’er Lli because their old town centre ground does not comply with league regulations regarding changing facilities. However, it is a bleak, featureless domain with a small covered standing area down one side and not a lot else.


Many ‘hoppers’ were less than pleased that the home side had engaged the services of a burger van rather than concocting a repast of ingenuity, which all the other clubs were able to achieve.


No matter, it was the football that was important. This was a Spar Mid-Wales League match and, therefore, of supposedly a higher standard than The Ceredigion League matches. That was not the case as far as entertainment was concerned! Was I the only one who, several times during a turgid  second half, found myself enduring rather than enjoying the match, whilst at the same time, noticing the increasing cold!


All the goals came in the first half, during which time the visitors built up an early two goal lead, only to be pegged back just before the interval. Once again, the crowd looked rather less than the 240 that was announced and the second half dragged as neither side was able to fashion a strike. Penrhyncoch were, however, worthy victors!


Saturday 7th March 2015   Ceredigion League       k.o.:- 7.30pm

Division 1

Newcastle Emlyn                                           2

Pete Almond 34,

Jake Harris 67,

New Quay                                                       0

Referee:- John Rees                        Attendance:-  194


Newcastle Emlyn are a far larger enterprise than the normal sized Ceredigion League club. Indeed, they used, until recently, to grace The Welsh League Second Division until consecutive relegations saw them demoted out of The Welsh League and they were placed in The ceredigion League. It will be tough getting back!


The ground is fully enclosed with a stand down one side AND floodlights – the only floodlights in The Ceredigion League.

Tonight’s match was a run-of-the-Mill regulation victory over a spirited New Quay eleven.


Sunday 8th March 2015   Ceredigion League   k.o.:- 11.00am

Division 2

Pencader                                                     7

Daniel Sears 22,

Adrian Hazelby 35, 65, 73,

Mike Taw 37, 82,

Haydn Morgan 85,

Ffostrasol                                                   3

Aled Rumble 11,

Gethin Davies 57 (pen),

Rhys Befan 78,

Referee:- Meirion Evans          Attendance:-  188


This was undoubtedly the outstanding match of the ‘hop’. Heavy rain overnight and all through the morning – and the match – meant that the pitch was a treacherous quagmire and the game would probably have been called off were it not for the large visiting contingent.


This was a very friendly club where a substantial amount of work had recently been undertaken to level the pitch. Indeed, before the match, there was a presentation to mark the completion of the work.


There was cover on one side of the pitch where spectators could gain respite from the constant precipitation, but it was small and the roof was quite low. Umbrellas were everywhere, but they could not keep out the worst of the wind and rain and underfoot was nearly as treacherous for spectators as it was for the players.


The match was a cracker. Pencader were expected to win, so it was a surprise when Ffostrasol took an eleventh minute lead! By half time, however, the hosts had scored three goals of their own and an emphatic home victory looked on the cards.

Just as in the first half, the visitors scored first to reduce the arrears. Two more goals from the hosts took the score to 5-2, but, doggedly, the visitors scored again, before the home side put the game to bed with two further goals in the final eight minutes.

It had been a pulsating encounter with some stunning strikes and the concentration and determination from both sets of players in quite appalling conditions will live long in the memory!

Some of The “Hoppers”







Top row (from the left) – Les, Laurence and Jack

         Bottom row (from left) – Chris, Our Dear Leader Kim Il Berezai and Don

Sunday 8th March 2015   Ceredigion League      k.o.:- 2.30pm

Division 1

Llanboidy                                                      3

Jonathan James 26, 33, 37,

Maesglas                                                      3

Matthew Rocke 17,

Kieran Harman 43, 73 (pen),

Referee:- Lyr Evans                        Attendance:- 219


I’m always amazed by the startlingly long period of anticipation of a ‘hop’ and the ephemeral and fleeting nature of its passing. Already, we had arrived at the final match. It was hard to believe! Equally difficult to fathom was the dramatic change in the weather! From the heavy rain and wind of the morning, the clouds lifted, the rains drifted and we were left with a very pleasant, sunny and – out of the shade – quite warm afternoon.


Not entirely sure why Llanboidy have two club badges


The village of Llanboidy had not only turned out in force to support this match, but had gone to considerable lengths to make the whole occasion into a village party! The village hall (see below) had been turned into a hub for food and other purchases. The bar was open and the FAW Cup match between Carmarthen Town and Rhyl was on SC4.


These two clubs had no points between them all season and were firmly rooted to the foot of the first division of The Ceredigion League. Well, that’s not strictly true. At one point,  Maesglas did have three points after defeating today’s rivals in the earlier fixture at Maesglas. However, those three points were deducted by the league for failure to fulfil a fixture.


To be absolutely honest, this was not a contest of skill. There was plenty of endeavour and both teams were determined to wrest something from the spectacle. The hosts were stung by a seventeenth minute opener from their visitors and replied with a three goal burst in ten minutes! However, Maesglas ended the half by pulling one goal back and then, midway through the second half, the referee awarded a penalty which from my point of view, even forty yards further away than the official himself, looked dubious.

DSCN5365 DSCN5363

Above, Peter, from Japan, just about midway through his annual football pilgrimage to England – and, of course, yours truly, looking distinctly chilled!


The final result left something for both teams although I am sure that in each case it was less than they had hoped for! We walked up to the top of the hill where there was an almighty traffic jam caused in the main by local traffic clashing with hoppers cars trying to get away from the ground. The coach took me back to Carmarthen for the last time and I collected my car for the long journey home!


There is an immense amount of organisation and administration – not to mention negotiation- that goes into arranging a ‘hop’ like this and yet again, it all went like clockwork. All the credit for that delicate choreography must go to Chris Berezai (and his assistant, Laurence). They worked tirelessly and with great patience to ensure that we hoppers could thoroughly enjoy our visit to West Wales.

Next up is The Scottish Lowland ‘hop’. This is a totally new venture and the anticipation is nerve tingling.

Bring it on!

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