Most people who know me will testify, i'm a groundhopper. Most people who know me may testify i'm slightly mad. Either way, I travel around various football grounds of this island and, sometimes, beyond to watch the beautiful game.
Most of my travels encompass the non-league game and, with my inane ramblings, I will attempt to show you where my travels take me and, also, try to show you that there is footballing life beyond the so-called "best league in Europe"
I hope you enjoy reading!
As I was heading south today to watch Peter Kay in Cardiff, it meant I had a myriad of games in and around the capital to choose from. As I was staying near near Bridgend, Goytre United v Barry Town seemed an obvious choice but on re-scanning the fixture list I noticed it was trophy day in Wales and Risca United, which happens to be en route to Cardiff, were playing a team called Swansea Dockers. Whenever would I watch a team with 'Dockers' in their name? Not in the immediate future, so decision made!
The weather was not good on the way south and the rain was heavy and persistant. A few calls to the secretary confirmed that the game was on, after groundstaff had worked tirelessly to make sure it went ahead, but upon arrival at the ground the referee was doing a very, very thorough pitch inspection. The few fans that had already gathered could see there was nothing wrong, the ball was rolling perfectly but the referee wasn't having it. Maybe HE didn't fancy it? Anyhow, he eventually he declared the game on and I could now relax with a brew (incidently this was the only tie in the south to survive the weather).
Risca United avoided last season's mass re-structuring cull from the Welsh League Division 3 on appeal, indeed it was their appeal that delayed the start of the whole season by a month, however they are currently struggling at the wrong end of the table so perhaps this season it will be results that see them down. Swansea Dockers are flying high at the top echelons of the Swansea Senior League and perusing the programme today, the pen pics indicate a very useful side.
he game got off to a flyer for the visitors, their power and pace catching the Cuckoo's cold, and they were two goals up inside 20 minutes. Kyle Morgan fired home a low shot after 4 minutes then after 20 minutes, he picked the ball up inside his own half, headed towards the Risca goal and the defence parted like the red sea and he continued through to score a superb individual goal. Risca kept going and had a few attacks of their own, only to be thwarted by the Dockers reserve keeper Rhodri Mugford, who also happens to be the club chairman!!
Right on the stroke of half-time, the Dockers conceded a penalty with a clumsy attempted clearance, and the lead is reduced to 2-1 at the break, Andy Gay converting. This could've been a turning point as it totally put a different slant on the respective half time team talks. Risca came out for the second half like they meant business and for the first fifteen minutes they looked more likely to score but, on the hour, a quick Dockers breakaway down the wing was unceremoniously ended in the penalty area and Morgan completed his hat-trick from the spot, via a deflection off the post.
Five minutes later the two goal deficit became three as, when another (stonewall) penalty appeal is refused, the ref's embarrassment is spared when the ball is only half cleared and a shot from Andrew Bonomi makes it 4-1 and it effectively game over. With a few minutes left a Risca striker is hacked down in the box and unbelievebly they are denied a penalty. Whilst the homesters are in the midst of protest, the visitors break, a superb run down the left and an unselfish square pass sets up goal number five, scored by Steven Hughes. Risca, who have never given up, and they do get a late consolation when Mugford twice stops efforts on goal but is beaten by Paul Michael at the third attempt.
Overall though, Risca can have no complaints as Swansea Dockers were much the better side and have to be a good bet to win the trophy. The next round takes them North to Conwy United, so we will have to see what happens at Y Morfa in February.
Andy Gay scores for Risca, from the penalty spot
Kyle Morgan effectively seals the match for the Dockers
Saturday 20th November 2010 FAW Welsh Trophy 3rd Round Risca United 2-5 Swansea Dockers Attendance: 65
It was a trip to Ossett, West Yorkshire, today though the choice of game today was once again influenced by the Good Beer Guide more than an actual football match. In order to get to Osset, you need to get off at Dewsbury Railway Station, home of the famous West Riding Refreshment Room and once in Ossett, there is also The Tap, home of the Ossett brewing company and just a mere 8 minute walk from Town's ground.
After sampling most of the delights the Tap has to offer in was then a slow stagger up to The Ingfield, now sponsored by local scrap merchant Eric France and known as the Stade France, in a terrible pun. When you enter the ground at street level you are at the back of the main seated stand behind the goal and you have to walk down to the pitch/social club/pie hut (I did, in that order!).
On paper the game between two struggling sides, who lay 18th and 19th in the League at the start of play, didn't offer much to suggest a classic, but when you don't expect a classic, thats what you invariably get and I was fortunate to witness a superb eight goal thriller!
Andy Ring gave Stocksbridge the lead on 19 minutes when a drop ball wasn't challenged strongly enough by the home side and, from the simple pass, he ran through to fire home. Jack Muldoon doubled the advantage five minutes later when he finshed a good move and cross. Osset finally had a attempt on goal and halved the deficit on 36 minutes through a Dave Boardman shot, which perhaps the goalkeeper should've done better with. However the joy didn't last long as Stocksbridge re-established their two goal advantage on 39 minutes when Colin Morrison had a free header from a free kick cross. The Steels added a fourth right on half time, but unfortunately nature was calling and I missed it! I'm led to believe it was Ben Leonard who scored it...oops.
The goals continued to flow in the second half and Ring added his second on 50 minutes with a cross shot that the goalkeeper couldn't get near. After going five up Stocksbridge seemed to take their foot off the gas and on the hour Boardman added his second for Ossett with a simple tap in after good work down the right. Ossett kept going but it wasn't until three minutes from time they added a third goal, Boardman completing his hat-trick, by which time it was too late for the granstand finish. Can't grumble at eight goals though!
Once the game was over, it was time for one last pint in the Tap (and a couple more of "take out" bottles for the train) then a taxi back to Dewsbury and the fantastic West Riding Refreshment rooms. I was in no fit state to remember what I had in there, but it was a superb establishment. As the t-shirts worn by the bar staff suggest, it is very easy to miss the train at Dewsbury, I WILL be back...hic!
Like quite a few other groundhoppers, I was drawn to this very interesting cup tie on the Isle of Anglesey. The lowest ranked team left in the competition, Gwalchmai of the Welsh Alliance, were taking on Welsh Premier League outfit, and last year's beaten finalists, Port Talbot Town. This ticked all the boxes when it comes to a cup tie; a small compact ground, a bog of a pitch, an expected large partisan crowd and most important, the likelyhood of a programme.
Oh and the small chance of an upset!
As for the upset, well once Port Talbot bagged their third goal before half time it was never going to happen, but the final scoreline of 4-1 to the visitors was very very harsh and flattering.
Martin Rose gave the Steelmen the lead after 10 minutes but the villagers struck back almost immediately when Paul Tilbury headed past Lee Kendall. The homesters enjoyed the bulk of possession, but admiitedly didn't trouble the Port goal, then on the half hour a needless penalty was conceded by Gwalchmai defender Stephen Sinclair and Rose bagged his second from the spot. Soon after Luke Bowen found himself one on one and his slotted home to kill the tie.
The second half was dominated by Gwalchmai but you had the impression Port Talbot were playing within themselves and always seemed to have them at arms length. Just to compound his afternoon Sinclair was then sent off late on for stamping on goalkeeper Kendall's foot, another act of stupidity from the defender. In the very last minute Liam Mcreesh scored to make it 4-1, which was very cruel on the villagers as that score made it look like they were well beaten, which was far from the truth.
Port Talbot marched on into the next round where they will face Caersws at their Victoria Road ground.