Saturday 27 September 2014

Taffs Well - Rhiw D'dar

Taffs Well FC
Rhiw D'dar
Parish Road
Taffs Well
CF15 7PB

02920 813020
Official Website

Ground Number: 415
Friday 26th September 2014
Taffs Well 5-0 AFC Porth
Welsh Football League D1


I had been steered towards Taffs Well by my friend and fellow groundhopper Matt Harrison. His excellent Lost Boyos blog had provided me with the inspiration to go to Cefn Druids a fortnight previously, and I had enjoyed my visit there. The other option closer to home was Eastbourne United v Colliers Wood United in the FA Youth Cup, but I wasn't sure about going to see a youth game. Plus there were 2 teams near Swansea - Garden Village and Briton Ferry. These had the added bonus of possibly seeing top Swansea mate Nathan, but it was a bit further, plus the fact that I fancied seeing him play football for his Saturday morning and making a weekend of it. The thing that swung it, in the end, was the reputable Fagins Ale and Chophouse which would provide me with dinner as long as they didn't take the mickey with food prices. I also wanted to go to a retro games shop in Cardiff called Super Tomato, but after looking at the stupidly expensive parking in Cardiff (£5 an hour) I decided to go to Taffs Well, park up, and see what time it was. If I wanted to go into Cardiff, it was a 15-minute train journey away, and the fare was the same as an hours parking in the city. It would also give the early opportunity to check out the pitch, given that there was light rain scheduled for the morning in South Wales. Unlikely to be a problem, but I didn't want to take any chances, given that I would be driving a long way. I would also be checking the state of play on Twitter before I left as well, just to make sure there wasn't any early call offs.

The village of Taffs Well is situated 6 miles north of Cardiff and gets its name from the River Taff. It is also the place of the only hot thermal spring in Wales, that has been in use since Roman times and reaches 66 degrees Fahrenheit. It had a population of just over 3600 according to the last census and has it's own train station, with a 20-minute journey getting you to central Cardiff.

TAFFS WELL AFC were founded shortly after World War 2, in the summer of 1946. They played in very local leagues until 1977 when they joined the Welsh Football League Division 2 (level 3 of the Welsh Football pyramid) They earned promotion in their first season, getting up to Division 1. Their best period came in the 1980's when they had a couple of spells in the Welsh Premier League. They had best ever finishes of 4th, 2 seasons in a row in 1986 and 1987. However, they were relegated the following season and have not been back since, even spending seasons in Division 2 after being relegated again. They've been in Division 1 since 2004, and last season had their best ever finish since returning, finishing in 2nd place behind Monmouth Town. This season they were way down the table in 13th place.


For the second Friday night in three weeks, I would be doing a groundhop in Wales, indeed I had been to football more often than not on Friday evenings this season. Last week it was the Eastern League Groundhop, and I would be hoping for better luck this week with the match bring called off right on kick off due to fog. It was going to be an expensive one again, as Anwar was yet again was unavailable, this time due to his Mum working and being unavailable due to look after his kids. Frustrating, but unavoidable, as you have to put family first. I did briefly consider staying in for the night, but last time I spent a Friday in, I was bored, and it was either stay in and have a few drinks or go out to football. I decided to take the latter and slightly healthier option, though I would still get to sample some Welsh Cider, which as I have said before on here, is my favourite. On the day I left work at 12.30 after a fairly easy day for a Friday. I went and got changed, then as I was hungry went and got a cheeseburger and chips from McDonald's. I'm not usually a fan, but on this occasion, it cost little over £2 and though the cheeseburger still had the added nonsense like gherkins, it was passable and the fries were actually very decent. I eat them on the way up to my car and had the rest when I got there, also having some of my diet Irn-Bru.

I left at 12.45 and the journey started well enough. That was until I hit Oxford and an accident on another road bought all the traffic in the area to a standstill. I had about 20 minutes added to my trip, then the same again for a variety of delays, meaning I lost 40 minutes in all. When I got to the ground, it was just before 4.30 and I was all for going to the village train station and getting a train into Cardiff to a retro games shop I wanted to visit. I started making my way there, though halfway through, I realised it would be very tight, and so turned back and went back to my car. I decided to get some pictures of this ground while it was still light. While I was there I spoke to the groundsman. He showed me a programme in the clubhouse of from when Wycombe played Taffs Well and also gave me some old programmes from the past 2 seasons of some of Taffs Well's away games so I could learn more about the league. I also saw his dog, who was very friendly and liked the attention. From there I headed to Fagins, the pub that had been recommended to me by Lost Boyo Matt Harrison. It was still only 5pm and I knew I had to be careful as I was driving in 5 hours. The Internet on my phone was dead slow, so I tried to use my wireless dongle. The signal was fine, but sadly the battery wasn't and it only lasted a minute before conking out. So instead I started typing my blog. The place seemed to be a haven for dogs, I had seen 4 dog walkers on the way in, the groundsman had a dog and now there was a border terrier in the pub. I'd already ordered my favourite cider, Happy Daze and vowed to have a second pint before going for a walk down the village in search of food. The pub did nice looking nosh, but I had time to kill, and so wanted to explore further. Happily, during my 2nd Pint, I discovered that the pub had free wifi and I was glad to be able to check Facebook while I was there. I then went off to find food, walking into the village and looking at the spring. I got a massive portion of chips for £1.20 from the Hong Kong takeaway which filled me up a treat. I then went back to the car, arriving at 18.45 and giving my Wifi dongle 15 minutes to charge before I went in the ground. I wished I could have had more to drink, but I was driving, and it's not worth the risk. Instead, I would stop at Tesco on the way home, and get some bottles from there.

I went into the ground, buying a programme and entry for £6. I got a really friendly welcome with people amazed I had come from Wycombe to see the game. I met a couple of great Cardiff fans who recalled some of the clashes from down the years between Wycombe and the Bluebirds. The game was a routine and one-sided win for Taffs Well who were on a 5 game losing run. But AFC Porth had lost all 7 of their games. The goals were fairly unremarkable and I think the visitors only had 1 shot. The most amusing aspect of the night was the linesman looking like Alan Carr. Credit to the hosts, they got the ball down and passed it and must have had 80% possession. After the game, I stopped at Tesco in Cardiff. I had a £15 voucher to spent at Tesco, which they gave to me after the unavailability of 2 products that I normally buy when I go to Wales. That was as a result of a visit to the store in Wrexham which occurred when I went to Cefn Druids a fortnight ago. I got the Welsh cider that I wanted and also as I was hungry got some crisps and some Irn Bru. They were also selling off the stuff in their hot cabinet so I got 2 jumbo hot and spicy sausages for 40p. By then it was just after 10pm and apart from a brief stop at Reading services to go to the toilet it was a smooth journey home. I got in at 12.15 and after checking Facebook I watched TV in bed before going to sleep. It had been another good night in Wales amongst good people, and will only encourage me to try and do more in this league. Though the way my expenditure is going, I will be hopeful of some company next time.


RHIW D’DAR is a smart ground in pleasant surroundings. There is a stand on each side of the pitch. To the left is the older original stand which offers a combination of seating and standing. On the other side is a newer stand, this is interesting in that it has the dugouts built in underneath. I’d hazard a guess that there were around 300 seats and 150 covered. The rest of the ground is open, but this would be fine for the Welsh Premier League, no matter what ground graders say.

Elsewhere, the club has badges, ties and tracksuits for sale. The bar has lots of club stuff on the walls and offers the usual range of drinks. The tea bar didn’t do food when I went, so eating outside is a good option. The area seems to be monopolised by the Chinese, as from what I saw both takeaways were Chinese chippies. The pub, Fagins, also does food at reasonable prices, plus best of all a great range of drinks.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Redhill - Kiln Brow

Redhill FC
Kiln Brow
Three Arch Road

Ground Number: 414

Tuesday 23rd September 2014
Redhill 2-1 Herne Bay
Isthmian D1 South


Redhill FC were formed in 1894. They played have in various leagues over the years, but in 1998 joined the Sussex County League Division 1. Relegation to its Division 2 followed after only a couple of seasons, but eventually, the club fought back, gaining promotion in 1997. Mixed fortunes followed, but in the 2012/13 season, 2nd place was enough to earn them promotion to the Ryman D1 South. Last season they finished just above the relegation spots in 22nd, and this season they were a couple of places above, but still struggling, down in 20th place. They have won a multitude of local cups and reached the 1st Round of the FA Cup in 1957, before losing 6-1 to Norwich City. They've not been past the 1st Qualifying Round since the 1980's and the same can be said of the other FA Competitions with their best ever FA Vase run coming when they got to the 4th Round in 1982. The club used to play in a ground in the centre of town and once attracted a crowd of 7000 for a game. They moved to their current home in 1984 with their record attendance of 1200 coming in a friendly against Crystal Palace in 1989.

I first heard the name of Redhill back in the 1990's, when watching an episode of 'Only Fools and Horses', the one where Delboy went hang gliding, he crashed into a TV Transmitter near the Surrey town. Other famous people to reside in the town include the Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs, who lived there when he was arrested for his part in the crime. Author Nick Hornby was born here, as was Bad Girls actor Liz-May Brice, while Michael Greco, who played Beppe Di Marco in Eastenders went to school in the town. I had always been intrigued by the name of the ground, Kiln Brow, which to my mind sounded absolutely lovely and I wondered about the origin of the name, but a google search threw up a blank.


It was back to work for me on Monday, although as usual, I had the Tuesday off. I'd enjoyed my week off but couldn't help thinking that I had undersold myself football-wise, 'only' doing 5 games due to postponements. This was boosted by the Eastern Counties League Hop on Saturday, with 3 staggered kickoffs in one day, but knocked back by the lack of a Monday game, the postponement of Wednesday afternoon's game involving Mansfield Town U21 and the Friday night game at Felixstowe being called off due to fog, right on kick off. I resolved to do it better this time, and although I couldn't control the weather, I could at least base myself up in Manchester and meet up with some friends too. For this hop, and indeed Friday's hop somewhere in Wales, I would be without the financial help and company of fellow hopper Anwar, the reason tonight being that he was watching his beloved Arsenal in the League Cup.

I was on my day off as per usual and filled my day by going down town, and doing some research for this blog amongst other things. I watched a bit of TV in the afternoon and had dinner of spicy turkey, chips and beans before leaving home at 5.45. 
The M25 is notorious for being awful at the best of times and so I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was only delayed by 5 minutes, despite it being the middle of the rush hour. The local roads were not so good, however, and a crawled along for pretty much most of the 5-miles resulting in another 10-minute delay. I wondered why some of the roads seemed familiar, then I remembered that I had been to South Park last year and had used the same route

I eventually got to the ground at 7.15 and after taking some pictures of the signs outside, I decided to go in. I paid £8 for entry and £2 for a programme, before heading to the club shop. There was a very good selection of old programmes and books, as well as club merchandise. I picked up an old shirt for the princely sum of £1 before going around and taking pictures and grabbing a seat in the stand while I typed my blog and checked out Facebook while I waited for the game to start.


The opening stages were quite cagey, but Redhill were the side in the ascendancy with Herne Bay defending quite deep. Gradually though it got more end to end, but it was still the home side on top. They got their reward when shortly before halftime Joe Goldsmith followed up a shot that had been parried by the visitors' keeper.

The second half was much the same, and Redhill doubled their lead around 10 minutes in. Sam Butler was the scorer, latching onto a good through ball and finishing well. By now it was getting quite chilly, so I was glad that I'd bought that shirt earlier as the extra layer was welcome. Sloppy defending allowed the visitors to get one back around 20 minutes from time as Stuart King got on the scoresheet. They came very close to equalising about 5 minutes later, but the ball went just wide. There was some debate about whether it was a corner or a goal kick and a visiting player was booked for his protests. The referee wasn't the best, which led to some fruity language from the Herne Bay team. And that was before he sent a visiting player off for a tackle on the halfway line that in my mind wasn't even a booking. This led to a coming together of the 2 teams and a bit of pushing and shoving, a few seconds after the game restarted the final whistle was blown.


I drove home, listening to TalkSPORT on the way home. It was the league cup and in the only game that went to extra time, Liverpool beat Middlesborough 14-13 in a long penalty shootout. I even had to listen to the last part on my phone as I walked into my house, and it had started while I was still on the motorway. I got in, typed some of my blog and checked Facebook before watching TV in bed.


In the 2 other games that I considered North Greenford United won 3-1 at Northampton Sileby Rangers while Hythe Town drew 2-2 with Walton Casuals.


Somewhere in Wales on Friday night. Taffs Well is currently favourite, with Briton Ferry and Garden Village also in the mix. An outsider is Eastbourne United in the FA Youth Cup.


KILN BROW is quite typical of step 5 grounds that have needed to see improvements in the past few years. The seats are another of those prefabricated type stands, although it's larger than most, holding around 170. The only other area of cover is behind the goal to the left as you come in, this has more cover for around 300.