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Welsh Hop 2016

Lined up then in such formations

Careless of life’s complications

Deaf to birdsong, blind to flowers

Prepared to chase the ball for hours,


A swarm of boys who heart and soul

Must make a beeline for the goal.

A kind of ordered anarchy

(There was, of course, no referee).


They ran and shouted, ran and shot

(At passing they were not so hot)

Pulled a sock up, rolled a sleeve

And scored more goals than you’d believe.


From “The Match (c. 1950)” by Allan Ahlberg (1937 – )




Friday 26th August 2016

South Wales Alliance Premier Division  k.o.:- 6.30pm

Sully Sports     2

Alex Long 23,

Joe Briscombe 75 (pen)

Canton Liberal   4

Andre Phillips  9, 27, 63

Christopher Quick  40,

Referee:- Graham Evans        Attendance:- 281

Admission £3.00   Programme:- £1.00


Sully Sports with a fine view of the sea behind the ground on a balmy Friday evening was as good a place as any to start proceedings for The Annual Welsh Hop, which this year was making inroads into The South Wales Alliance.


Sully Sports have had an impressive start to the season, but they were surprised by the determination of the opposition who raced into a 3-1 advantage by the interval. A goal apiece was shared in the second half and Liberal were good value for their victory.


There was a small covered terrace along one side, but, otherwise, spectators stood out in the open. It would be interesting to see a match in mid-January with a gale blowing off the sea! Friendly club with specially imported pizza the speciality option! Excellent pint of beer in the adjacent club house!


Saturday 27th August 2016

South Wales Alliance Premier Division k.o.:- 10.30am

Llantwit Fardre   6

Laith Jawad 7,

Johnny Miller 16, 47, 80

Mike Griffiths 22,

Karim Jawad  59,

Bettws   0

Referee:- Michael Ford    Attendance:- 190

Admission:- £3.00    Programme:-  £1.00


The early morning match on day two was a visit to the eccentrically named Llantwit Fardre (although I suspect that many Welsh names sound eccentric to The English Invaders!).


This match produced the lowest crowd of the hop and it is hard to  understand why. The welcome was warm, the match was one-sided, but nonetheless entertaining and the ground was quaint and atmospheric.


Each of the Jawad brothers (Karim and Laith) were among the scorers for the home side and, besides their goals, they were influential in the host’s emphatic victory.



On the edge of the ground this strangely endowed structure was in fact a public toilet block enhanced by the home team’s graffiti artist!

Saturday 27th August 2016

South Wales Alliance Division II k.o.:- 1.15pm

Aberfan SDC     4

Aarron Caffell 26, 62, 77,

Ben Madgwick 48 (pen)

Fochriw             1

Richard Brannan 29,

Referee:- M. Bougher       Attendance:- 220

Admission:- £3.00         Programme:- £1.00


This was one place where I would have preferred to spend more time. We alighted a scant half hour before kick-off and any chance of visiting the village memorials was lost. Fifty years ago over one hundred children and their teachers perished when a mountain of coal waste slid into their school shortly after the start of the day. A nation mourned and the village is even now drowned in memories and memorials. The only memorial we were able to see was the children’s graveyard in the distance on the hill (see below).


The game was played on an open field, but was nonetheless an entertaining encounter, with the hosts who were even at the interval, dominating proceedings in the second half and securing a deserved victory.


The graveyard in the mountain side where children and staff from The Aberfan Disaster are buried.



Saturday 27th August 2016

South Wales Alliance Premier Division k.o.:- 4.00pm

Penydarren BC    3

Jack Cole 4,

Josh Brogden 41,

Alex Lloyd 73,

Ton & Gelli BC    4

Rhys Mullins 59 (og)

Kurt Hodges 61, 87,

Steve Evans 79,

Referee:- Mark Boucher     Attendance:- 285

Admission:- £3.00         Programme£1.00


It must have been a bitter pill to swallow, leading by two goals, dragged back to 2-2, but again to take the lead, only for two late goals by the visitors to whisk victory from the jaws of defeat!



This was the feature of this game, a specially produced brew for the visit of the hoppers (many of whom are connoisseurs of a fine pint of ale). I didn’t want to bring an empty bottle home, but I couldn’t resist a picture!


It was a pretty impressive ground with covered seating adjacent to the club-house down one side of the pitch.


Saturday 27th August 2016

South Wales Alliance Premier Division  k.o.:- 6.30pm

Pontlottyn      1

Leon Jeffrey 80,

Merthyr Saints    5

Luke Jones 18, 

Matthew Jones  28,

Craig James 38, 75,

Ian Cleary 86,

Referee:- Mark Boucher      Attendance:- 246

Admission £3.00       Programme:- £1.00


Poor old Pontlottyn, dreaming of former glories, but even the impressive floodlights did not work and their ground is council owned. It was a shame, really as there was evidence all round the ground of former glories, but much of the spectator viewing area is overgrown and cramped. Even the toilet facilities were lit by torches! Pontlottyn have slipped down the greasy totem pole of the Welsh pyramid and this evening, they were outclassed by a slick visiting team who were well worth their four goal victory. Having said all that, the welcome was warm at the hilltop ground and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. It had an eccentric charm all of its own!


Sunday 28th August 2016

South Wales Alliance Division II  k.o.:- 11.30am

Garw SBGC   7

Jason James 7, 14, 38, 49,

Arron Jeffries 46

Ryan Hughes 59,

Lewis Davies 89,

Trebanog    2

Dean Lewis  20,

Ieuan Gowan 30,

Referee:- Harry Hendrix    Attendance:- 257

Admission :- £3.00     Programme:- £1.00


The view on a misty morning from the car park at Treforest where we were staying in student accommodation at The University of South Wales.


Wow! This was an interesting arena. It was cut away from the hillside and formed a flat area alongside the old railway line and beyond that, the river. The club offices and a minute stand, which seated perhaps thirty or forty spectators, were perched on top of the hill overlooking the ground and away to the left in the far corner was a single seat stand for the club’s ball recovery officer, who also had a long pole with a hop to help him capture the recalcitrant sphere!


Spectating was also possible



Ian Royer



Chris Berezai



A picture purporting to show the football ground as it was in 1950

Sunday 28th August 2016

South Wales Alliance Division II   k.o.:- 2.30pm

Cefn Cribwr       1

Gavin Rodgers 65 (og)

Penrhiwfer       2

James Trembath 41,

Keiran Tann 85,

Referee:- Jamie Dobbins    Attendance:- 293

Admission:- £3.00       Programme:- £1.00


This was mainly the preserve of the rugby club and I’d had two pints before I realised that I was in the rugby club bar!


Stuck far away at the end of the park was Cefn Cribwr’s football pitch. It was nothing much to look at but the locals had done us proud with curry and cakes!



The visitors were always in the ascendancy and a goal in each half gave them a well deserved victory, sandwiching a home equaliser!



Sunday 27th August 2016

South Wales Alliance Division I  k.o.:- 6.00pm

Cornelly United         2

Matthew Davies 19,

Jake Roche 80,

Porthcawl Town Athletic     1

Andrew Fisher 11,

Referee:- Kim Fisher   Attendance:-  351

Admission:- £3.00     Programme:-  £1.00


The rain eventually relented and left us with a watery sun kissed evening. These two local rivals had staunch (and noisy) bands of supporters and even the odd smoke bomb was seen to go off!



The only cover on the ground was this  covered terrace mid-way down the far side of the ground. The half time score of 1-1 seemed a fair reflection of the match and it seemed deemed to end that way until an explosive 80th minute strike by the home side sealed the points in a narrow victory.


Monday 29th August 2016

South Wales Alliance Division II  k.o.:- 11.00am

Cardiff Hibernian    2

Shaquile Harris-Reffel  4,

Lloyd Inyang  52 

Cardiff Airport     4

Liam Davies 1,

Jermaine Martin 25, 66,

Michael 78,

Referee:- Clive Layne     Attendance:- 261

Admission £3.00     Programme:- £1.00


On a blazing hot Bank Holiday Monday morning, these two teams served up a goal fest, but the hosts will not be happy with conceding four goals on their own patch against local rivals!



Lords of Misrule, Groundhop UK organisers, Laurence Reade and Chris Berezai are counting the crowd!






Les Bull with his ‘chair’!

Monday 29th August 2016

South Wales Alliance Premier Division

Grange Albion      3

Liam Beattie 25,

James Cotterill,

Jacob Daly 42,

Cardiff Corinthian   0

Referee:- Wayne Tregonning   Attendance:- 225

Admission £3.00         Programme:- £1.00


Just over the road from Cardiff City’s new stadium, the careworn but oddly nostalgic home of Grange Albion was tucked in beside a ‘bus depot.



You can see The Cardiff City Stadium in the above picture, dwarfing the buss depot next to Grange Albion’s ground!


In a fairly lacklustre match, a severely depleted Corinthians side, newly relegated from The Welsh League, conceded three first half goals and then shut up shop and the hosts had to be content with that!


Monday 29th August 2016

South Wales Alliance Division I

Cadoxton Barry     5

Rhodri Morgan  5, 77,

Ross Weekley  8,

Jake Oaten 15

James Dawson 31,

Cogan Coronation    3

Luke Walsh  32 (og)

Carl Fitzgerald  44,

Jamie Harris 78,

Referee:- Peter Small        Attendance:- 301

Admission:-  £3.00      Programme:-  £1.00


The wooden footbridge across the stream to Cadoxton Barry’s ground.





It looked likely to be a rout as the hosts ran in four unanswered goals in the opening half hour. By half-time, however, the visitors had pulled two goals back. The only second half strikes came, one from each side to complete an entertaining and high scoring match.


And then, we all went home!

It was a brilliant weekend from start to finish and one that the weather did comparatively minor damage to! The games went off like clockwork and the hosts were friendly and warmly welcoming. Most of all, though, I would like to extend heartfelt gratitude to Chris Berezai from Groundhop UK (and Laurence) who worked tirelessly to ensure a smoothly functioning ‘hop’ with a high enjoyment factor.

Here’s to the next one!!!

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