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Friday 24th August 2012 ko 6.30pm

Mid-Wales League Division 2

LLANFAIR UNITED 4 (G Jones 13 80 Gethin 24 74)

ABERMULE 1 (Anthony 31)

Att 261

I should start by declaring an interest in the next 11 articles. The Welsh Hop is organised by GroundhopUK and I am Chris Berezai’s deputy. So what you read will be very much from the perspective of the organiser!

In this case it meant being at the hop base, The Dolforwyn Hall Hotel, near Newtown, around 11am. That’s been the hop’s home for the last 3 years, this year sadly being the last, as we’ve run out of clubs in the Mid-Wales League! Still this year’s event was a good chance to go out with a bang, and with a record number of pre-booked tickets sold, and a second coach in operation for the first time, we were good to go.

We stuffed over 100 copies of the participating clubs’ programmes into bags, and I did two shuttle runs to Newtown station so those without cars could get to the more far-flung hotels. By 3 o’clock the coaches arrived and we were ready. From there we picked-up from Newtown bus station and drove to Welshpool station, but not the British Rail one. On the way I received some sad news from a group of South London based hoppers who had been involved in car-crash en-route to the hop. The car was a write-off but fortunately they weren’t badly injured, but too shaken-up to make the hop. I wish them a speedy recovery.

Lee had long since pointed out that there’s a steam narrow-gauge line running between Welshpool and Llanfair Caerneinon, so 76 hoppers, and would you believe a wedding party gathered for the 50 minute ride north. The railway used to run through the streets of Welshpool to connect with the standard gauge line until 1956 when the whole narrow gauge line closed. The town section has long since gone, but the party enjoyed their ride even if the Romanian engine did struggle up the 1 in 29 Golfa Bank gradient.

From the terminus the coaches took back over, up the steep hill to Mount Field, a climb players are accustomed to, as there are no changing rooms at the ground, the  changing facilities are at the leisure centre the other side of the village, and for that matter the valley too! The referee gets an old lorry for privacy, and since the rain was falling Chris produced a pop-up tent to distribute programme packs from, which we nicknamed, “The Marquee de Sad!”

Llanfair United used the occasion to open their new stand, an impressive edifice, named after club stalwart Ivor Owen. One hopper asked his neighbour who Ivor Own was, and was rather shocked when Mr Owen answered him! With the weather inclement the cover was as popular as the excellent views. Opposite the club ran a raffle, sold badges, and helped keep everyone warm with a tasty chilli and rice.

The game was entertaining, a reverse of the fixture that opened the very first hop. This time Llanfair were good value for their win, and with the pitch due to be moved slightly towards the stand, and rotated a few degrees to gain the extra few centimetres need to qualify for promotion, the future looks rosy for this friendly go-ahead club. Incidentally the attendance of 261 was exactly the same as the reverse game on the first hop! I wonder how many of them were at both?