Following a day at The New Saints, instead of heading home east along the A5, I set off northbound on the A483. With Rhosllanerchrugog the destination, I was on my way to a Welsh National League game between Rhos Aelwyd and Cefn Albion.
The last new Welsh ground I went to was The Muga, the home of the latter way back in July. Since then, TNS’ European adventures have got in the way. Not that I’m complaining though, after all I’ve added some interesting countries to my football list.
However, as a genuine fan of football I don’t see playing fields in a Welsh village as any less of a pull than the national stadium in Macedonia. Of course, I love the big stage, after all whatever field (no pun intended) you’re involved in you aim as high as you can.
I do love the beautiful game though, regardless of where it is being played and who is involved. Plus, as a groundhopper, if it’s a new venue then so much the better. Ponciau Banks, the home of Rhos Aelwyd was the 41st Welsh ground on my list and the 16th new one overall so far this season.
Sat in the tin shed that overlooks the ground, I really enjoyed the game itself. The home side dominated the early proceedings and it was a case of when they would score, not if. That came as we approached the twenty minute mark, when a well-directed header from a corner broke the deadlock.
The second goal came as the visitors failed to clear, giving Rhos a comfortable cushion. However, right at the end of the first period Cefn hit back with a good effort that the goalkeeper failed to deal with. I noticed from the Rhos Aelwyd Twitter account that the keeper was a stand-in who had gone in to help the side out. Welcome to grassroots football, flexibility is the key word.
In the second period, Cefn Albion pulled themselves back into the game and got an equaliser, which is how it ended (2-2). I thought both sides conducted themselves well, some full-bloodied tackles, lots of passion and some very good individual performances. I’m looking forward to my next Welsh National League game already.