At Park Hall, the home of the Welsh Premier League Champions, during the day, I timed my schedule perfectly as I left at 5.45 p.m. to hit the A5 and A483 to take in another Welsh National League game.
Outside of the top flight, which is national, the tiers below are all regionalised and with Wrexham being a major urban area in Wales, there are enough teams in the wider area to support a league.
Taking my new grounds for the season to 48 and my 36th Welsh one in total, was a visit to Llay Welfare FC’s The Ring, with Chirk AAA the visitors. I almost didn’t make it though as first one SatNav postcode and then a second that I found on the internet led me elsewhere.
In the area though, I was determined to find the ground, which I eventually did by searching for Llay Miners Welfare Club, which is the base for the club and also points to its origins. Although now sadly relegated to the past, the Wrexham area has a strong association with coal mining.
In fact, the largest pit was in Llay itself which closed in 1966, with the final nail in the coffin for the area coming twenty years later when the last working pit, at Bersham, closed its doors for good.
The visiting side from Y Waen, to give them their Welsh name, have a glorious history themselves, this time from a footballing perspective. I intend to visit Chirk’s ground in the future as part of my groundhopping adventures, so more then, but for now just to mention the fact that they are winners of the Welsh Cup on five occasions.
Back to the present though and the game itself ended 1-1. It was the red shirts of Chirk celebrating with one-third of the game gone, when indecisiveness in the penalty area saw them take the lead.
They then hit the post, as well as going close with an effort just wide of the keeper’s left post in the dying minutes of the first half. Continuing to have the upper hand, they were unable to get that second goal though which would have given them a comfortable cushion.
Halfway through the second period, Chirk found themselves down to ten men courtesy of two yellow cards. It took a few minutes, but the momentum of the game shifted to Llay, as they took advantage of the extra man.
Their equaliser came in the final quarter of the game, as a cross from the right was tucked away inside the box. Both sides then created chances but neither was unable to break the deadlock and that’s how the game ended, with the points shared.
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