It’s always good to ‘kill two birds with one stone’, so to speak, and that’s exactly what I did on the weekend. With The New Saints FC in for training, ahead of the Cefn Druids game in the JD Welsh Premier League, immediately afterwards I headed down the A483 to Llanymynech.
It would be a long journey on its own from where I live, but as I was at Park Hall anyway, it was only a few minutes in the car. Although I’ve done almost forty games against Welsh opposition with the New Saints this season alone, none of them have been additions to the groundhopping list as I’ve visited them all previously,
Therefore, opportunities like Saturday are there to be grasped and a look at the Montgomeryshire League’s fixture list immediately saw me make a note in my diary for a first trip to Station Road, the home of Llanymynech FC. Outside of the top flight, which is national, all leagues are regionalised and Llanymynech play in the fifth tier of Welsh football.
A unique village that is located in both England and Wales, it reflects my own personal heritage very much with both Shropshire and Welsh roots. The team is very much the latter though and, as the title indicates, it was ground number 32 on my Welsh list.
Welsh tier five is very different to the corresponding level in English football. Played on a parks pitch with evidence of recent mole activity and local lads involved for the sheer love of the game. However, as a big fan of football in Wales, I enjoy every ground I visit. Whether the Cardiff City Stadium for national games or lower league football, it’s all good.
The game itself – between Llanymynech FC and Maesyrhandir FC – saw the visitors go into the break with a 2-0 lead. Although the home side pulled one back early in the second period, it was Maesyrhandir who triumphed 2-1 in the end, with a missed penalty not costing them the points.
The next day it was back to Park Hall and the game against Cefn Druids saw The New Saints presented with the JD Welsh Premier League trophy for the seventh season on the bounce. In addition, our New Zealand International, Greg Draper, scored four as he reached – and passed – the 100 league goal barrier in his TNS career,
Following the game, as well as our manager, Scott Ruscoe, the choice of player to interview was an easy one this time round. Although I interviewed Scott in front of the sponsors’ board, Greg’s was on the pitch as we captured the moment.