Today was an opportunity for a Welsh 'treble header' and a chance to visit two Mid Wales grounds that normally wouldn't appear on the August Bank Holiday groundhop.

In the case of the University this is because the students don't start until late September and in Aberaeron's case it is because the annual carnival takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend, which uses the football pitch.

Throw in a third game, a Ceredigion league clash at New Quay, which was my first taste of this particular league, a chance to catch up with old friends and the day had all the makings of a great day.

In fact the hop began last night with a Ceredigion League clash between Lampter and Llanybydder, which ended in a 2-2 draw, but sadly I could not get the time off work to attend.

Therefore my hop began with...

10.30am Saturday 10th March 2012
Mid Wales League Division One
Aberystwyth University 0-1 Bow Street
Attendance: 236

Don't wish to stereotype students, but they managed to be ready for this early start to the day's proceedings!

It was a foggy drive down to Aberystwyth and at certain times I was having flashbacks to the game at Excelsior last year, which was abandoned due to fog. I need not have worried as it was lifting by the time I drove down the A44 into the town.

The home of the University football team, Vicarage Field, is in the middle of town, just off the A44. Richard E Huws superb book 'The football and Rugby grounds of Wales' gives a brief history of Vicarage Field 

"The field was purchased and given to the University in 1906 by Baron David Davies. It is still owned by the University where it is used for football, cricket and rugby. Glamorgan played two one-day matches at the ground in 1977 and 1989 and the field hosted the very first Royal Welsh Agricultural show in 1904. A grandstand which once dominated the field was demolished in 2007 and replaced in 2009 by a new stand, which has been named the Gareth Llwellyn Memorial Stand, in memory of a politics and law graduate who died suddenly from a cardiac condition".
The footings of the old stand still remain but it is this 'new' stand that offers the only cover at the ground, otherwise the ground is just an open field.

At the beginning of play the students were second bottom of the league, but with games in hand whilst Bow Street were just three places above them, but fourteen points clear.

In a pretty poor game, the Students had much the better of play, despite being reduced to 10 men when Gareth Thomas was sent off for a dreadful challenge just before the interval.

Neither side conjured up any decent efforts at goal, the game seemingly petering out to a drab draw, when out of nothing, and with just four minutes remaining, Dean Evans volleyed home to nick the points for the visitors.



The National Library of Wales overlooks the ground

1.30pm Saturday 10th March 2012
Mid Wales League Division 2
Aberaeron Town 3-1 Machynlleth
Attendance: 224

It was a 12 mile jaunt down the A487 for the next game to the quaint town of Aberaeron. Cae Sgwâr, or Square Field, is the home of Aberaeron and is located in the heart of the town. It is nothing more than a pitch but it used regularly for a variety of events, notably the towns annual Carnival and Festival of Welsh ponies, hence the statue near one of the entrances to the ground (see below).
Aberaeron from the quayside,
very close to the Harbour Master GBG pub!

On first impressions I didn't think much of the ground, especially for Step 3 of Welsh football. I was actually thinking to myself why the heck have I come here but, once I'd settled into the surroundings, this turned out to be my favourite ground of the day.

You rarely get grounds in such a central location these days. The pitch is enclosed to a certain degree by hedging and the architecture in the streets around the ground create a nice ambiance with their varying shades of colour.

Throw in the bonus of a chippy in view of the pitch and a GBG pub minutes walk away and it was happy days!

At the start of play only three points separated 4th placed Aberaeron and 8th placed Machynlleth, so you could be forgiven for expecting a close game however the reality was somewhat different, with the homesters running out comfortable winners, a stroll in the field if you like, as the visitors faded.

Ryan Jones opened the scoring for Aberaeron after 20 minutes with a low shot and that's how the score remained until a goalkeeping error allowed Kurt Jarman to nip in and level for Machynlleth.

The scores were level for just 4 minutes when Machynlleth's Ben Thomas put through his own net. The Seagulls wrapped up the points 5 minutes from time when Rhydian Davies made it 3-1.

Aberaeron are moving to (share) the rugby ground for next season, so there are only a few games left to be played on the existing pitch. I would heartily recommend a visit to Square Field (before it's too late) and indeed the town of Aberaeron itself.

Ryan Jones (10 yellow) opens the scoring for Aberaeron

Another Aberaeron attack is foiled

Attacking play from Aberaeron's Ryan Jones leads to
Machynlleth's Ben Thomas (11 blue) putting through his own net

4.15pm, Saturday 10th March 2012
Ceredigion League Division 1
New Quay 1-2 Maesglas
Attendance: 276

The final game the day saw the hordes head to the seaside town of New Quay for a top of the table clash with their visitors from Cardigan, Maesglas.

As mentioned at the top of the blog, this was my first ever dip into the Ceredigion League and I was hugely impressed.

This was easily the best game of the day and, facilities wise, the best ground of the day. Parc Arthur is a little gem. The club also pulled the stops out as the food laid on looked great and there was a bonus of some bottled real ale from the local Pen-Lon cottage brewery.

Maesglas were top of the table but second placed New Quay (and current Champions) were just five points behind, with five games in hand. The visitors needed a victory today but even then they would still be relying on help from others.

The game had everything. It was end-to-end, both sides missed a hatful of chances, plenty of 'robust' challenges, a couple of red cards and a goalkeeping blunder to help determine the result.

The visitors took the lead after 38 minutes when Peter Almond had the simple task  of firing home from six yards after a great cross from the right hand side. The homesters were level just three minutes later when Charles Harvey beat the advancing 'keeper to a cross to head home.

The people at New Quay clearly
knew what makes hoppers tick!
The second half was an even affair and both teams had chances to win. However tempers were beginning to flare. The game was heading towards the draw, which would have been fair, but in the 88th minute Maesglas broke away and Jamie Thompson simply took out the advancing player and was shown a straight red card. I think they justify that these days by calling it taking one for the team.

However, this cynicism backfired as from the resulting Richard Evans free kick, which was just on the halfway line, the ball bounced once and went over Simon Church in the New Quay goal to grab the points for Maesglas. A bizzarre winner, but they all count.

In stoppage time Maesglas themselves were reduced to 10 men when Chris Morgan received  a red card for violent conduct. An unedifying end to what was a great game.

Back home by 9pm, knackered after a hectic day, but it was well worth it. As ever the organisers and clubs had laid on a jolly good show. Same again next week please!

1 comment:

  1. Cheers Chris, that was a good read.
    Paul Jones
    manager of Maesglas FC