Although the lighter evenings have presented more opportunity to visit new grounds, courtesy of the Welsh National League now playing midweek fixtures, unfortunately the weather hasn’t caught up yet.
In particular, the constant rain has ensured that across Wales in general, lots of matches have been called off even before a ball has been kicked. I look at the week ahead and add fixtures to my diary and I’ve erased more than I’ve actually been to so far this month.
This week though I was more than happy to see that Brickfield Rangers v Cefn Albion was still on. Tying in very nicely with my day at Park Hall, the home of the champions of Wales, I was able to visit Clywedog Park in between an event in Oswestry’s Cae Glas Park and covering TNS Ladies’ training session.
On entering the ground, the first thing I noticed were the pitches alongside the main one busy with Academy games. That’s always great to see – lots of youngsters enjoying the beautiful game.
With time to spare, I walked the perimeter of the pitch before finally settling in the main stand behind one of the goals. This was a top of the table clash with Cefn Albion the visitors from the other side of the A483, the main road that dissects the area.
Playing in their familiar green and white hooped shirts, the home side fell behind to an early close-range goal. Enjoying the better of the opportunities in the first period, Brickfield went closest as they hit the post at the other end. Come the half-time whistle though, Cefn Albion remained ahead.
In the second period, it was the Rangers who created more clear-cut chances although I was wondering whether they would actually breach a dogged and determined visitors’ defence, This they did and at that point, as a neutral, I fully expected Brickfield to push on.
However, some brave defending plus the woodwork coming to their rescue again – this time courtesy of the bar – the second goal never materialised for the home side. Instead, it was the visitors from Cefn Mawr who scored what proved to be the winner.
The supporters who had travelled the short distance cross-country showed their passion when the ball hit the back of the net . It doesn’t matter whether you support a big English Premier League club or a Welsh village side that was only birthed in 2014, it’s all about passion.
I thoroughly enjoyed the game, it was played passion – that word again – by both sides. There were some full-bloodied tackles that had players just get back on their feet and carry on. That’s what I love about the game in Wales, you see lots of dedication and commitment with minimal fuss and scenes created.
My next match is at Maes Tegid, the home of Bala Town. It won’t be one for the groundhopping blog though as I’ve been there numerous times before. I’m still looking forward to it very much though and even though I’ll be working this time as opposed to just being a fan, nevertheless I’ll still enjoy it. It’s football, it’s always good.
Finally, a mention to whoever runs the Cefn Albion Twitter account. From my first tweet saying I was visiting the game, there was interaction. That’s what you do, especially at this level, you interact.
It’s the same for us at The New Saints, although we do have a very busy Twitter account, we’re not Manchester United. We don’t get hundreds of mentions per hour, we can still keep track of things and engage. People like that, when you connect with them.