Saturday 13 May 2023

Caersws - The Recreation Ground

Caersws FC
The Recreation Ground
Carno Road
SY17 5SB

01686 688753 (Recreation Ground)

Ground Number: 1188
Saturday 13th May 2023
Caersws 3-0 Llanuwchllyn
Ardal North East


The club was founded in 1887 as Caersws Amateurs and adopted the present name when amateur status was dropped in 1974. Their first major success was in the Mid Wales League when they won the title in 1960. They'd been runners-up in 1954 and 1959. Going on to win the title on nine occasions and runners up on a further eight, they'd remain there until 1990 when they became founder members of the Cymru Alliance. It was a successful two years there with them finishing as runners-up to Flint Town United in the first season before winning the title the following year. This was more due to Welshpool Town's 66-point deduction than anything else but they were invited to join the newly-formed League Of Wales in 1992. Their best finish came a decade later as they finished 4th. Caersws were relegated from the Welsh Premier in 2010, back into the Cymru Alliance. A couple of 4th placed finishes were achieved but with results tailing off, the club dropped done to the Mid Wales League in 2018. Coming out of the pandemic, Caersws were placed in the newly-established Cymru North East, finishing as runners-up last season. They won the title this season but their return to step 2 is being held up by licensing complications.

Caersws have reached the Welsh Cup Quarter Finals on seven occasions, last losing 2-1 to Aberystwyth Town in 2014. They've won the Welsh League Cup on three occasions. The 2002 success saw them make their only entry into Europe as they lost on aggregate to FC Marek Dupnitsa. It was a close game with them getting a draw in the 'home' leg at Aberystwyth. Their opponents went on to give German side Wolfsburg a close game not too long after that. Other domestic honours include the Welsh Intermediate Cup in 1989, the Welsh Amateur Cup in 1961 and the village cup on four occasions. Locally, they've won the Central Wales Challenge Cup on six occasions, the Cymru Alliance League Cup in 2014, the Montgomeryshire Amateur League Cup three times and the Mongomeryshire Cup on nineteen occasions.

Their biggest win came as they beat Aberystwyth Town 20-1 in 1952, their biggest defeat as they lost 7-0 to TNS in 1995. Caersws is a village on the River Severn, in the Welsh county of Powys, 5 miles west of Newtown, and halfway between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury. It has a station on the Cambrian Line between the two towns. At the 2011 Census, the community had a population of 1,586– a figure which includes the settlements of Clatter, Llanwnnog and Pontdolgoch. The village itself had a population of slightly over 800. The name is derived from the Welsh placename elements "Caer-" and "Sŵs". "Caer" translates as "fort" and likely refers to the Roman settlement. The derivation of the second element is less certain. It's most famous building is the historic church, dating from around the 15th century. The area is for mountain biking with several races being held there.


This game was decided upon around a week before the game. I was actually considering visiting Caersws back on 25th February for their game against Llanfair United. In the end, a long train journey and a lack of pubs and food in the town counted against it. On that day, I had a good day in Gravesend at Guru Nanak which happened to be the best value in terms of train fare. However, Caersws was pretty high on my list of grounds to do. I remember the name from the classified football results and Vidiprinter on the BBC in the 1990s and had seen some pictures of the ground which looked good. The ideal opportunity came when Dan offered me a space in Richard's car for the trip. It would involve a revisit to Newtown, which I'd already been to this season. However, the ticket was free and it was also an important game, a playoff for a European place.

In the week leading up to the game, two passengers had to be turned down due to a full car. Anwar was given first refusal should someone pull out. But the most baffling was Colin. He had been offered it before anywhere else but turned it down. It was a case of him not listening properly as he was looking to complete the Cymru Premier whilst being fussier about the lower-division stuff. By the time his brain clicked into gear, it was too late. He instead was heading to Louth Town whilst staying at his parents' house, a place he mentions several times every time we meet. I did my research on Friday evening and was disappointed to see that my two places of interest - the Red Lion pub and Caersws Chippy did not open pre-kick-off. It was most disappointing as I've found the food and drink at Welsh grounds to be extremely disappointing. I was hoping we would be able to stop in Newtown or at a farm shop on the way. I provided the information but as driver, Richard would have the ultimate discretion.
The day of the game came and I woke around 7, 15 minutes before my alarm. I got a message to say the guys would be at my work at 8.45, so I'd have time to kill. I had a bath, got dressed and had a porridge pot for breakfast. I left at 8.15, getting my stuff together including some cider for later. I was at work ten minutes before our meet, popping into the shop for a chocolate bar. Richard was there pretty much on time but as usual, I was allocated the 'Kenilworth Road seat' with no legroom behind Dan. I'd bought my Windows laptop with me but had forgotten my hard drive so couldn't really do much with it. I still had my Chromebook with me which did most things well. Aside from the sorting of photos, I was covered and the journey went quickly carrying on my Rushden and Diamonds game on Champ Manager 97/98. I took Rushden to the top of Division 3 whilst making a £7m profit on player sales. A rocky run of results was interrupted by a visit to the Churncote Farm Shop which Dan had found. I got a local cider, some cakes and some dirty fries from the Café. The chips and cider were had for lunch. The chips were great, the cider a little sweet but still nice. It was a very pleasant way to while away 45 minutes. It was then 50 minutes to the ground with us getting there at 1.45. I didn't see the no alcohol sign, so had a nice pint of Ross pre match. It was a glorious place to spend a sunny day. Three pens for 50p was a bargain with them having the club name printed on them. The addition of two friendly dogs made it heaven.
Caersws already had the title sewn up, but their promotion was in doubt. They'd been turned down for their tier 2 licence. There were 29 pages of criteria for them to follow and they have obviously come up short somewhere. It is ground grading in all but name by the looks of it but also with some added requirements for staff and such like. I've found the most disappointing elements of Welsh grounds to be food and drink offerings. Whereas in the English step 6 and above you are almost guaranteed a bar or clubhouse, this is more often than not, not the case in Wales. I always like to spend in the club if possible, but if I've travelled for ages, I want to be sure of being fed and watered and watered. When I put my trust in Airbus having seen some of the food, the tea bar was not even open and I spent the whole game with a rumbling stomach. Cwmbran Celtic was another disappointment - very basic food offerings and no bar. The only toilet on offer was backed up and overflowing, so I feel that the grading is very inconsistent. It was a nice ground overall though. On the flip side, my experiences at both Newtown and Trefelin BGC were both fantastic this season and the clubs earned a load of extra sales from me.
Caersws were top of the league but were not in perfect form. They had won 5-1 at Corwen last week and had also won 3-2 at Bow Street and 3-0 against Rhos Aelwyd. They'd drawn 2-2 at Welshpool Town and lost 2-0 at Llanfair United in the league. They had also lost 2-0 to Guilsfield in the final of the Central Wales Cup. Llanuwchllyn were in 4th. They were in similar form having beaten Welshpool 2-1, won 3-1 at Rhayader Town and thumped Corwen 5-1. They'd also drawn 1-1 at Bow Street and lost 1-0 to Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant. Caersws had won 4-1 in the return game with the two villages being around 50 miles apart.
Llanuwchllyn gave Caersws a guard of honour onto the pitch. The hosts dominated the opening period, Llanuwchllyn restricted to chances on the break. On 29 minutes, Glyn Coney dispatched a penalty to give the champions what looked a fairly comfortable lead. The most prominent player for the visitors was Paul Jones, a 39-year-old who reminded me of Luton's former player Steve McNulty. I remembered him from the game I saw at Llanfair where Llanuwchllyn recorded a 2-1 win back in September. The hosts doubled their lead on 70 minutes, Neil Mitchell with a strike from range. A thumping curling shot made it 3-0 on 73 minutes, Craig Harris the scorer.
From there, it was ten minutes to Newtown. I wanted to support the club rather than tick a, Wetherspoons. Entry was great but as I stood at the bar being ignored by the old barman, I wondered if there was a bit of hostility going on. Ten minutes I waited before going to the other bar and got served within 90 seconds. From then on, it was as good as the first visit in September but it left a sour taste in the mouth. I wanted to to support the club and thank them for free entry but they did make it harder than it should have been. The game was not bad, 1-1 with Haverfordwest edging it. They wasted time with a dull extra time where nothing happened. It was an entertaining penalty shootout in amongst the atm, though the majority of the 1,826 crowd went home disappointed as Welshpool triumphed. By the time we had stocked up at Morrisons, it was past 8.30. I decided to not bother with my blog until we got home, instead carrying on with my game. This worked for a while, but a frustrating run of results and my mouse packing up meant I switched to watching YouTube. The journey dragged on for an eternity but I was eventually back at work at 11.40. It was not nice knowing I had to be back there in just over 8 hours. It had been a long and unhealthy but fun day, I was aiming to be asleep by 1.50 so as to get six hours sleep.


THE RECREATION GROUND is a glorious venue, set in rolling countryside amongst the Welsh hills. There are two seated stands, a dull kit stand and a proper brick built stand. These have 400 covered seats between them. There's an additional covered area, flat standing which would hold around 50. Tea bar facilities are sparse and there's no bar. The town is very close but is limited in selection. Most of the decent places only open post-match although there is a cafe nearby. 

No comments:

Post a Comment