Monday 26th August 2013 ko 18.00
Welsh Alliance Division Two
MELIDEN 2 (Moss 34 Cassidy 84)
ST ASAPH 0
It seems like the end of an era writing this, the last game of the Welsh hop marathon. A few things have happened since this game, the main one being that Chris attended a league meeting where a full debrief was held on the hop, the first in the league. The good news new that we’ll be back next season, and that the planning has already started.
Yet despite the magnum opus nature of the hop it didn’t feel like we were stretching the joy too far as we approached the mining village of Meliden. Yes, people’s feet still hurt, and there were tired bodies on show, but what we saw as the coaches reached the Mine lifted the soul.
When you imagine a mining village in Wales, you tend to picture coal extraction, but Meliden grew up digging for lead and limestone, in fact the Talargoch mine was reckoned to be the richest lead seam in Wales. That said, you don’t have to travel too far to find coal mining, the Point of Ayr Colliery was at Fynnongroew, just a few miles away, that finally closed in 1997.
There is still evidence of mine workings, not least the Miners’ Memorial, clearly visible on the A547 running through the village. The village is still notably working class, and that gave the visiting throng a different slant on how to host a groundhop game.
The club combined the fixture with the local fete, so with the usual fayre, such as teas, the barbeque, and chilli, there was a tombola, cake stall, and a produce stand. It got the locals out in force, to such an extent I’d have expected to have seen an attendance this large on the Sunday, when there’s no competing fixtures.
More than anything else I enjoyed the buzz that the club brought to their time on the hop. The line-ups were recorded by the local school’s history teacher on the back of the “Guess the baby’s name” board, and the barbeque did a roaring trade until it exploded in a flash of flame. An extinguisher put out the fire in a plume of smoke, but it did help me with one request. Radosław Rzeźnikiewicz from Poland was new to the Welsh hop and is a real fan of “Ultra” culture including the pyrotechnics! Well, my friend, we didn’t let you down!
There was a kind gesture too from nearby Prestatyn Town FC. They’re the current holders of the Welsh Cup, and sent it to The Mine, so people could get their picture taken with the trophy.
The fixture was a real needle match, and had been so ever since Meliden needed a point a few years ago to clinch the Clywd League, and the visitors won in controversial circumstances! And while the tackles flew in, this game kept the right side of tough, although St Asaph will reflect on why they didn’t repeat that victory. It of course came down to taking your chances, and when Dean Moss headed Meliden in the lead, he was notably unmarked. Still, St Asaph pressed, and what wasn’t missed by their forwards, was saved by the excellent Steve Robinson. The clincher proved to be spectacular, Darren Cassidy’s 30-yard thunderbolt whistled past Luke Jones in the St Asaph goal.
It was quite a finale to the hop, and at the final whistle all there was left to do was thank the club, before doing the drop-offs, firstly at Chester Station, and then at the university. That meant saying farewell and thanks to Colin and Neil our drivers, who in 4 short days felt like old friends, then after checking everything was how it should be, saying goodbye to fellow organiser Chris, then heading for home.
As you read this, of you were at any of these 11 games, either as an official, volunteer, player, or spectator, we’d like to pass on our thanks to you. Without exception you were fantastic. To finish I’d like to recommend a short film by Radosław Rzeźnikiewicz about the hop, it is really rather good! See you next time!!