Calan Hen, Ceredigion League, Dean Jones, Gethin Davies, groundhop, Llandysul, Memorial Park, Rev Enoch James, Saron, Simon Davies, soccer, Sports, Teifi, welsh harp, welsh language books, Welsh Spring Hop
Sunday 10th March 2013 ko 13.30
Ceredigion League Division Two
LLANDYSUL 4 (S Davies 39 51 D Jones 71 83p)
SARON 3 (G Davies 17 77 85)
Entry & Programme by Hop Ticket
Even as organiser groundhops always seem to fly by, and I felt slightly melancholy as the coach pulled into the public car park by Llandysul Memorial Park. The club gave an immediate good impression as they’d placed a steward by the “Pay and display,” machine to make such the coach didn’t have to pay the £1.20 to park there. It was unnecessary, but appreciated, and was a good indication of how much thought the club had put into their day. Like St Dogmaels the previous day, the club got the local populace involved making a bumper crowd.
Llandysul lies in the Teifi valley, and has around 3000 residents. It used to be a centre for the woollen trade but the market has closed and the railway that transported the goods was a victim of the Beeching Axe. Nowadays the town is best known as the home of Gwasg Gomer, one of the most prominent publishers of Welsh-interest and Welsh language books. There is also the Welsh Harp Centre, Telynau Teifi which was set up in 2004. It is believed to be the only harp-making business in Wales, a country with a traditional association with the instrument.
The Memorial Park lies in a loop of the River Teifi and is home to the town’s football, cricket, tennis and bowls clubs. St Tysul’s Church looks over the area, and it has a footballing history all of its own. In 1752 the calendar was changed from the Julian to the Gregorian, which meant 12 days were “lost.” On the old New Year’s Day, Calan Hen, now on 12th January, it was the custom for harvest workers to be given a feast. A rough form of football took place with the two “goals” being the porches at the churches of Llanwenog and Llandysul. In 1833, the vicar of Llandysul, Reverent Enoch James, substituted a different way of celebrating Calan Hen. He plumped for a more sedate affair, gathering of the local Sunday Schools in Llandysul Church to sing anthems and recite scriptures. That church, of St Tysul provided quite a backdrop to our fixture. It’s still celebrated on January 12th each year.
There was nothing remotely rough about our game, and for many it was the fixture of the hop. It ended up being a tale of two Davies, Llandysul’s Simon and Saron’s Gethin. They scored 5 goals between them and were the 2 best players on show. Saron notched first with Gethin Davies heading home unopposed before Simon Davies hit either side of half time, and the Llandysul forward was exploiting his pace down the left channel to great effect. Saron’s failure to score again before the 77th minute ultimately lost them the game, as Dean Jones made it 3-1 striking home from Simon Davies’ squared ball.
Gethin Davies gave Saron hope at some pain to himself as a clearance hit him square in the face but the rebound was enough to beat Daniel Jones in the Llandysul goal, but Dean Jones soon restored the advantage, this time from the penalty spot. Gethin Davies completed his hat trick with a header to set up a frantic last 5 minutes as Saron threw everyone up front, but the last two chances fell to Llandysul’s Simon Davies, who was put through twice more but missed his chances for his own hat trick.
All the while the club had done a magnificent job in hosting their game. The tea ladies tried to teach me a few words of Welsh, and on the barbeque the locally produced burgers sizzled. We normally don’t encourage clubs to hold barbeques, on a long hop burgers at every ground is a bore, but these were delicious and set me up nicely for the long trip home.
At the final whistle there was one last duty for Chris and I to do. The club had purchased two trophies, one to the winning team, and the other for man-of-the-match. Chris and I selected Simon Davies for the latter, and Chris presented the trophies. Simon raised his trophy above his head, and dropped it, breaking it in half!
All that remained was the thank you’s. Firstly to 5 magnificent host clubs, who all did themselves proud, and The Ivy Bush Royal Hotel in Carmarthen who impressed us so much we’ve booked it for next year! Thank you to the officials of the Ceredigion League for placing your trust in us at GroundhopUK, and making our lives a good deal easier. Thank you to Clive our coach driver, who’s learning what’s required quickly, and to Chris Berezai, without whom there would be no hop. Lastly, and the biggest thanks goes to all of you attended the games. I hope you enjoyed yourselves, in a league I suspect that hasn’t seen too many football travellers. And for those of you who think the Ceredigion League is either too low a level, or just isn’t on your radar, well just have a look at these five reports, and I’ll see you here next year.