Tuesday 10 March 2015
The Welsh Spring Hop - Sunday
After a rather tiring Saturday on the Welsh Spring Hop, I was looking forward to the second day. Despite my fatigue, I still woke at 6.30 on the Sunday after just 4 hours sleep. I checked Facebook and watched some Youtube videos before having a shower and going down for a very nice breakfast at 8am. I then went back up to my room to chill for a bit, before going into town to pick up the Non League Paper. I had to try 3 shops before I found one that had them in, the Co-Op coming up trumps. I am guessing that having a coach load of groundhoppers in town did not help, as supply might not have met demand. After leaving at 9.40, I had a 20 minute drive to Pencader, getting there at 10.
11:00 - PENCADER UNITED 7-3 FFOSTRASOL
PLAYED AT: PENCADER PARK
After arriving at 10 to heavy rain, I stayed in my car until 10.20. Even then there were hoppers still on the coach, and that had arrived an hour earlier. The programme was one of the thinner ones on the trip, but it did at least have an excellent article by Hop Organiser Chris Berezai on postponed and abandoned games, ironic given that this was the only wet game of the trip. The club were doing a decent trade in bacon rolls and hot dogs when I went in, and also had a merchandise table in the hall.
Due to the rain, there were plenty of people crammed into the small area of cover and it was a bit of a squeeze to get in. The pitch was drenched and the pitch had pools of water all over it, and under any normal circumstances, it would have been called off. What was to follow proved how wrong that decision would have been, and how pathetic some officials can be over a bit of water. Luckily we had a great referee who just laughed and got on with it, despite the visitors not looking to keen.
What was to follow was the best game of the hop, and possibly of my season so far. There was a good view to see all the action as the cover was elevated in comparison to the pitch. The visitors were ahead after 11 minutes when the number 9 got away from the defence and finished well. It was all square on 22 minutes as Pencader's number 3 saw his driven shot go into the bottom left hand corner. A cracking long range effort put the home side ahead on 35 minutes and 2 minutes later they had a 2 goal lead with another driven shot.
After the break, a penalty reduced the arrears to 3-2 before a close range effort restored the 2 goal lead on 66 minutes. It was 5-2 as the number 7 scored a curling shot from a tight angle a couple of minutes later.On 74 minutes Ffostrol got one back, a thumping shot which lobbed the home keeper. Two further goals were added in the final 10 minutes, both of good quality to complete a highly entertaining encounter.
14:30 - LLAINBOIDY 3-3 MAESGLAS
PLAYED AT: CAE DANDRE
It was a 45 minute journey to the final game of the hop. Thankfully I was not going the other way as a prang had cause a huge tailback as 3 police cars attended to the careless driver. I got there at 1.20 to find there was absolutely no phone signal, and even worse, one of the stewards at the club informed me I had a flat tyre. I got my pump out and topped it back up again, hoping that it would get me home. I consoled myself with a pint of Strongbow. Like the final game of last night, the club had really excelled themselves with food and over the course of the day I had a hog roast and some goulash, both of which were excellent
The game was between the 2 bottom sides, and they really were struggling. Maesglas had 3 points, presumably gained from the reverse fixture whilst the hosts had zero, having lost all 17 of their games last season. What was to follow was an entertaining counter as both defences proved why their teams are down the bottom.
It was 1-0 to the visitors after 15 minutes, a great free kick from Matthew Thomas putting them ahead. Llainbody equalised on 23 minutes with a header from Johnathan Jones. The same player completed his hat trick to put the home side 3-1 up. The lead was reduced on 40 minutes when Ffostrols number 10 scored from just inside the area.
I missed much of the second half due to having to change the wheel on my car, as when I had gone back to it at half time it was as flat as a pancake. Thankfully some very helpful exiled Wycombe fans were on to give me a hand, as I was not sure what I was doing. They in turn missed the game and I was very grateful for this. Thankfully no goals were missed and I was able to get home, albeit at a reduced speed, thanks to the space saver tyre. I was back pitchside to see Maesglas equalise with a penalty, around 10 minutes from time. This gave Llainbody a very welcome first point of the season, even though they could have had all 3 if they had held on.
I'd have preferred a real wheel in my boot, but cut down versions are about as good as you will get, with some manufacturers providing only crappy repair kits. I took it nice and easy on the way home, stopping at Cardiff West services on the way back to go to the toilet, getting back home at 8.15. I checked Facebook for what had been happening, and also uploaded my pictures. After that I watched TV in bed before falling asleep just after 10pm.
On reflection it had been a really enjoyable hop, impeccably organised by Chris and Laurence as ever. Highlights had been some great scenery and really friendly clubs. The football had been a mixed bag, as was the catering. On the downside, there was only bars at 2 of the grounds which meant thirsty hoppers and missed revenue for clubs. Also frustrating was the impending bills for my car, though at least it got me home after a fashion.