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Saturday 11th February 2012 ko 2.30pm

Welsh Alliance Division One


GWALCHMAI 3 (Evans 6 Burgess 10 Allman 76)

Att 61 (h/c)

Entry £3

Programme £1

Badge £2.50

Coffee 70p

With the UK under a rather late big freeze it was very much a case of finding something, anything on. To make matters more pressing, Peter Grant was over from Japan and having made do with League football for a week, was looking for something more exotic! I wanted something a bit special as a means of saying thanks for putting me up for 2 weeks in the summer. Now here’s a groundhopping top tip, North Wales and Anglesey seldom freezes, so I decided to look at that part of the world. I thought it might also be fun to watch a Japanese based Australian try to pronounce some of the place names!

After collecting Chris Bedford from Stafford, the M6 made it impractical for us to get to our original choice of Pwllheli, so the choice was made to head for Anglesey, and the first village you reach once you’ve crossed the Britannia Bridge. Given the time we’d earned by driving less distance, we took time to visit the Marquess of Anglesey’s monument at the southern edge of the village. The 27 metres high monument offers excellent views of the Menai strait, the village, and the football team’s old ground Gor’s Field. From there we then visited the famous railway station, and the visitors’ centre for the inevitable tat, before heading up to Maes Eilian.

But let’s answer the three most obvious questions. Firstly why the ridiculously long name? In simple terms it’s a Victorian publicity stunt. In 1826 when Thomas Telford built the Menai suspension bridge then in 1850 the Britannia Bridge and the North Wales Coast Railway linked London to Anglesey and the ferry to Ireland, the villagers spotted an increase in local traffic. So as to get people to stop, a local committee was put together to try and encourage trains, travellers and 19th century tourists to stop at the village. It is believed that the name was elongated from the simple Llanfairpwll by a cobbler from Menai Bridge, little did he know that he had implemented one of the most successful tourist marketing plans of all time!

But what that is it mean? Deep breath now…..Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave. And how is it pronounced? Something like…Llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-queern-drob-ooll-llandus-ilio-gogo-goch. Simple? For the vast majority of the time the name is abreviated to either Llanfair PG or Llanfairpwll.

The football club moved from the flood prone Gor’s Field a couple of years ago. Maes Eilian is about 400 yards north up the hill. The name of the new ground translates as Eilian’s Field, a slightly jokey reference to the legend concerning a local saint renowned for performing last minute miracles. It hasn’t kept the club in the second tier of Welsh football, the Cymru Alliance, the reduction in size of the Welsh Premier League having forced the club down a level. The original plans for the ground included a full clubhouse and floodlights. With grant monies not forthcoming, the club scaled back to no lights and a group of portacabins which serve as changing rooms, and a committee room cum canteen. It does the job, just. A vast improvement though is the pitch and what’s around it. Gor’s Field, still in use by reserves and youth, featured little more than benches hidden under the changing rooms’ overhang. Now, there’s a proper seated stand, and a container case covered area behind the goal.

What hasn’t changed is the friendly nature of the club. The chairman went home to collect the entire stock of metal badges for Peter to buy as souvenirs for football fans back home, and most of the information here came from the officials who were always willing to come and tell us more about their club.

The game pitted Llanfair against their Anglesey neighbours of a full 7 miles away, Gwalchmai. The programme predicted a close encounter, that was spot on, but what we got was close to a classic. Aled Thomas thumped home to open the scoring but Gwalchmai quickly responded to equalise then take the lead, all within the first 10 minutes! Thomas then equalised with a fine 20 yard strike, the goal of the game, and Llanfair hit the woodwork twice before half time, the second when it looked a good deal easier to score!

Inevitably the second half slowed a little as a spectacle, although at no point could you predict a winner. Allman fired home to give the advantage to the visitors, but Llanfair rallied again for Richard Owen to respond almost immediately after. 3-3 was probably fair, although home keeper Liam Ewing had to produce a fine save at the death, tipping over the bar.

A little tip for those visiting this wonderful little club. Since the club cannot do much more catering than chocolate and hot drinks, if you want something hot to eat, try the Caffi Glan Menai opposite the station. The food’s rather good, and the cafe advertises in the football club’s programme.