Today was a rare chance to visit one of the few grounds I haven't "ticked" in the Cymru Alliance. I say rare because it is not very often you get a team accepting promotion to the second tier of Welsh football (let alone a team from each of the three feeder leagues, which has happened this season...Berriew and Llangollen are the others) and rare because I wouldn't go to Bethesda in their Welsh Alliance days due to their noteriety for never issuing a programme. However one of the rules in the Cymru Alliance is they have to issue, and they did today, although it was more style over substance, but in my eyes there is no such thing as a bad programme.

With the sun beating down on a lovely late summers afternoon it was to the edge of Snowdonia, and Meurig Park I headed. The football ground was very easy to find, located just off the A5 road as you head out of town. A typical welsh ground with a railed off pitch, small covered seated stand and absolutely stunning views from all angles, in this case the Ogwen Valley and, err, the slate quarry.

Bethesda took the Welsh Alliance by storm last season, winning the title by 16 points, so it will be interesting to see how they cope with the step up. The oppostion today was my local team, Flint, who are a strong outfit at this level and are always there or thereabouts in the promotion race.

It turned out to be a very enjoyable game as (the mighty) Flint secured a comfortable win. Two first half goals, the first from Shaun Beck after 15 minutes and a then stunning finish, after a mazy run, from Paul D. Williams put Flint in a strong position just before half time. Bethesda came out and had a good go second half, as Flint took their foot off the gas, and with 6 minutes to go Craig Roberts pulled a goal back for the homesters. However, any fears of that the Silkmen would squander their lead were allayed when Shaun Beck netted a third two minutes from time to seal the victory.

This result meant a very happy hopper travelling back along the A55!

Saturday 22nd August 2009
Cymru Alliance
Bethesda Athletic 1-3 Flint Town United
Attendance: 54 (h/c)

ALBION ROVERS (Cliftonhill)

Embarrassing how I ended up at this game...I booked a cheap Virgin train to Glasgow to take in the CIS cup tie at Partick Thistle but (beacon cheeks) overslept and missed it! I was hell bent on seeing a game in Scotland so drove up there instead. As I was in the car, I didn't fancy driving into Glasgow city centre (especially as the area around Partick's ground is not the best to park a car, shall we say) so I headed to Coatbridge instead and Cliftonhill, the home of Albion Rovers.

The ground is an absolute tip, but thats the way (ah hah ah hah) I like it! Bags of character and not a bland stand in sight, in fact it was labelled "a shitehole" by the Livingston players on their arrival before the game, but as the Albion officials (kind of) retorted "it is OUR shitehole" a reference to the financial problems that Livingston have been experiencing. This game was in doubt right up until the previous 48 hours when Livingston were brought back from the brink after being saved by from liquidation.

This meant the crowd was swelled by over 400 travelling Livi fans, who were quite understandably just happy to be there. Albion came out of the blocks fast and were clearly "up" for the game. They took the lead after nine minutes when a Bobby Barr corner was punched into his own net by Livi 'keeper Roddy McKenzie. It was Barr himself who added the second three minutes into the second half when he fired home after a good move and cross from the left. Substitute Marc McCusker completed the scoring in the final minute when tapping home from a couple of yards, to send the home fans delirious.

There are long term plans afoot to sell off the ground and move to a brand new purpose built stadium, so very soon another "gem" will be lost forever. Please pay a visit whilst you can!!

Is the advertising a glimpse into the future?

Saturday 1st August 2009
Scottish League Cup 1st Round
Albion Rovers 3-0 Livingston
Attendance: 602