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Saturday 25th August 2012 ko 1.45pm

Mid-Wales South League

RADNOR VALLEY 2 (Layton-Morris 33 Matthews 41)

NEWCASTLE 3 (Oxford 22 26 Price 47)

Att 212

Entry/ Programme by Hop Ticket

Badge £3

Another first for the hop on this game, the first ever international! New Radnor may be a mere 16 miles from Newcastle-on-Clun, but the latter is on Shropshire, England, and the club plays in Wales by convenience. That convenience doesn’t look all that convenient as Newcastle won the league last season but were refused promotion to to the Mid Wales League….because they’re English!

Being close to the English/Welsh border, New Radnor has had a chequered history. New Radnor castle reguarly changed hands between 1188 and 1412 and was destoyed 4 times, most notably by Owain Glyndŵr and his forces circa 1401. He hanged his enemies from the ramparts.

Radnor Valley’s pitch lies off a track at the end of School Lane, and the club made great efforts to make a good impression on their visitors, even laying aggregate on the track to make walking on it easier. There isn’t much at the ground, just a rustic cover, and a quirky dugout/ and shelter for substitutes. The cover was turned into a clubshop, bar and kitchen, and the club did a roaring trade in chicken or beef stew. It was a good thing lamb wasn’t on the menu, with the hundreds of sheep in adjacent fields I’d have felt guilty. A raffle sold well, and a senior hopper was slightly embarrassed to win first prize, a locally produced beech chopping board! There was no dount what the most popular purchase was, the Radnorshire Real Ales! There were two on handpump, plus bottles to take away, and I can confirm it was delicious!

In fact I almost forgot how little the club had to work with here. On the first hop I’d watched Llanidloes with far superior facilities make a hash of hosting a game, and here was a tiny little club, lacking even power or running water doing a superb job. I felt humbled as I watched the players walk across the fields to reach the pitch.

What the hoppers couldn’t do is get Radnor Valley a win their hospitality deserved. Scott Oxford’s quick double saw to that, and whilst the hosts managed to square the tie just before half-time, Carl Price’s strike just after the break saw all the points head back over the border, in this entertaining cross-border skirmish. I walked back to Alan and my coach feeling grateful and slightly humbled.