Friday 11 March 2022

Welshpool Town - Maes y Dre Recreation Ground

Welshpool Town FC
Maes y Dre Recreation Ground
Howell Road
SY21 7SU

Ground Number: 1049
Friday 11th March 2022
Welshpool Town 2-2 Four Crosses
Ardal NE


The club was established back in 1878 and went through many name changes in its early years - such was Welshpool Wanderers, Welshpool Warriors, Welshpool United and Welshpool. They played in various leagues too including the Welsh Senior League, Shropshire League and The Combination. After the first World War they played in the Central Wales League where they won the Central Section in 1921.  After the Second World War Welshpool moved to the Welsh National League (Wrexham area). which they won on four occasions. The club then returned to the Mid Wales League which it won seven times between 1968 and 1980 which led to their application to apply as founder members of the Cymru Alliance in 1990. This application was successful and they would have won the title in 1992 but they had a mammoth 66 points
deducted for fielding a player serving a suspension from a previous club. They were runners up twice more before spending a couple of seasons in the top-tier League Of Wales in the mid-90s. Welshpool returned to the Cymru Alliance and by 2002, were champions. Promotion to the Welsh Premier followed and the club enjoyed their best-ever finish of 4th in 2007. A brief sponsorship deal saw the club renamed Technogroup Welshpool between 2009 and 2011. This was not a happy time for the club as they were relegated from the Welsh Premier after failing to apply for a license and then bottom of the Cymru Alliance after having 18 points deducted. They ended up in the Mid Wales League which currently sits at step 4 of the Welsh football pyramid. They stayed there until 2020 including a runners-up spot to Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in 2018. This season they joined the newly-established Ardal North East which sits at step 3 of the Welsh pyramid. The new structure had been delayed a year due to the pandemic and an overly cautious government.

Welshpool Town have twice reached the Welsh Cup semi-final - losing to Flexys Cefn Druids in 2002 and Afan Lido in 2007. Local cup wins include the Welsh Amateur Cup in 1972.  The market town of Welshpool is in Powys, four miles from the English border. Its Welsh language name Y Trallwng means "the marshy or sinking land" whilst in English, it was initially known as Pool but its name was changed to Welshpool in 1835 to distinguish it from the English town of Poole. The community had a population of 6,664, with the town having 5,948. It contains a lot of Georgian architecture and is just north of Powis Castle. The local economy is primarily based upon agriculture and local industry. The Smithfield Livestock Market is the largest one-day sheep market in Europe. Market days are on Mondays. The town's industrial estates are home to numerous different types of small industries, ranging from metal to food production. Due to the town's small size and population, the attraction of high street stores is limited, meaning that many of the residents prefer to shop in neighbouring towns like Newtown and Shrewsbury. However, Welshpool remains an important hub serving its agricultural hinterland. The town is home to the headquarters of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust and the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust. Other sports clubs in the town include Waterloo Rovers FC and a rugby union team.



My original intention was to stay in on this Friday as I'd arranged to go with fellow hopper Chris to Wyberton next Tuesday, plus I had the Scottish Hop coming up so soon after the North West Counties Hop. Plus the options were fairly scarce unless I fancied a long drive. I'll never understand why the English leagues offer so few options on a Friday night as they always draw bigger crowds in. I appreciate that it's a change of routine for the players and there are difficulties with finishing work on time. Though on the flip side, they do get the whole of Saturday off. There are always plenty of options in Wales and another way that the Welsh triumph over the English is the excellent Cymru football app. This offers every single fixture in the country with details on if it is postponed. It also has up to the minute goal details and lineups with shirt numbers. Compare that to the FA Full Time site which looks like it is still in Beta whilst the webmaster has gone done the pub. It's not bad for finding fixtures, although there's no way to see every fixture on one day - you have to look one league at a time. It's also not great on mobile and if a team has entered the player details, they are in alphabetical order with no shirt numbers. No team colours either and most of the time, no attendance. No system is perfect of course and I've heard of teams being docked points due to playing ineligible players - something that surely should not happen when everything is done electronically.

I'd originally decided to stay in on Wednesday evening, not least due to the ludicrous increases in fuel prices. However, after a stressful Thursday at work for the second week in a row, I couldn't get that I wasn't going to have any Friday night football out of my head. There was only one answer to that - have another look at the fixtures. There were nearer options at Brighton & Hove Albion U23s and Hinton. plus an easier option down the M4 as Risca United were using Cambrian & Clydach Vale as their home for one game. However, there was a better option in my mind, up at Welshpool Town. It was a regular Friday night venue and I knew that Milton Keynes based hopper Chris had done it as  I'd offered it to him before. I did offer it to Colin, but as ever, it was met with no reply which I took to mean that he wasn't interested. I came home on Thursday night and did all the research that was needed. I was happy to see that the weather was looking decent, plus both clubs confirmed that the game was on. I planned in petrol stops and dinner, as well as researching the club history. Further exploration revealed that there was a micropub with local real cider to take out, plus some interesting food options.

The day of the game came and it was another busy day at work. I finally got a reply from Colin, 20 hours after asking but as expected, he couldn't come due to financial reasons. I got out of work at 3.10 to be met by drizzle. It rained all the way up too and an hour's delay, mainly around the M42 only added to my misery. I eventually got to Welshpool at 6.50, parking in Tesco to save time. It was 7 minutes walk to The Old Bakehouse Micropub where I got two pints of Old Monty cider from Powys to take out and another Shropshire cider. It was then to Baba Ali kebab shop for a Doner Sar Beni - a kebab with a Turkish pizza as a wrap which was nice and had plenty of salad. I then headed to Tesco, buying six more bottles of Welsh cider before going to the ground. I was there 15 minutes before kick-off and the game appeared to be free entry though they later came round with a bucket asking for £2, a bargain. 

Welshpool Town were in mixed form. They'd won their last two - winning 3-0 at Penpercau and beating Carno 7-0. However, since the start of the year, they lost 4-2 at Bow Street, 2-1 to Chrirk AA and 4-2 to Llandrindod Wells in the CWFA Senior Cup. These games were part of five straight defeats but they sat in mid-table. Four Crosses were rock bottom, having suffered a nine-point deduction at the start of the season. They'd only managed two draws in their games so far - 1-1 at Dolgellau and by the same scoreline at home to Penycae. They'd lost their last game 9-0 at Llanfair United but had won 2-1 at Bishops Castle Town in the CWFA Senior Cup for their only win in 29 games this season. Welshpool had triumphed 2-0 in the reverse game, thanks to goals from Ryan Knott and Ryan Edwards. Around 8 miles separated the two sides with Four Crosses even closer to the English border than their opponents, residing slightly north of Welshpool. The game kicked off at 19:42 and Welshpool were well on top early on. They took the lead after five minutes. James Clewlow swang in a cross from the right and Ryan Knott planted a firm header into the net from six yards. Four Crosses came back into the game and on 11 minutes it was all square, Will Howard with a low free-kick from 25 yards. Welshpool were edging the game and on 34 minutes, Four Crosses keeper George Lawrence had to be at his best to tip over a stinging 20-yard volley. Welshpool had the better of a duller second half, but it was Four Crosses that took the lead on 69 minutes, a scrappy goal from a corner by Ben Simms. Welshpool clipped the bar on 76 minutes from a free-kick and had a string of chances. They got their equaliser on 90 minutes, another set-piece from the edge of the area scored by James Clewlow.

For so long, it looked as if Four Crosses might pull off a shock win and although Welshpool was the better team, I struggled to see why they had lost their last game so heavily and only had two draws to their name all season. Both teams showed great teamwork and spirit and it made for an entertaining draw. A good referee helped the game flow and I'd enjoyed my evening, as I'm sure the other 50 or so that attended did too. I left just after 9.30 and as petrol was fairly pricey in Welshpool, I headed to Morrisons in Shrewsbury to fill up. This was a waste of time, as the place was closed and pay at the pump not working. I had to go to ASDA in Telford where they did have this facility, but it was still in the minority. Surely barely anyone faffs around going to the kiosk these days and they might as well have carrots for your horse or green shield stamps for how dated they are. I put my Mark Clattenburg audiobook on and this was a good listen on my long journey home. There was 15 minutes delay on the M6 thanks to a lane closure, but I was back home by 1.10. I had my cider whilst typing my blog and looking forward to the Wycombe Wanderers v Rotherham United game tomorrow. In truth, I'd rather go to the Whitchurch Alport FA Vase game but as usual, the EFL fixture schedulers had worked against me.


The MAES Y DRE RECREATION GROUND is a great venue for watching a game, but is quite open and I didn't see a club sign with it being a public recreation ground. However, it's perfectly pleasant. There's just one stand, a mixture of seating and standing, holding around 300. There's a snack bar and a bowling club nearby. For a better choice, you can head to the pleasant small town of Welshpool, which is less than ten minutes walk away and has a decent selection of places.

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