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Saturday 8th March 2014 ko 13.15

Ceredigion League Division One

CARDIGAN TOWN 6 (B Davies 19 28 J Thomas 52 D Nash 74 86 K Morgan 80)

NEW QUAY 0

Att 224

Entry £3

Programme £1

Badge £3

Beer £2.20

Lamb Cawl £2.20

As the coach pulled into Ceredigion’s county town I was more than pleased to see the rugby club there on our right with the football pitch next door. The previous year we’d tried to negotiate Cardigan’s one-way system en route to Maesglas and its fair to day we’d seen a little more of the town than we’d planned!

The previous day when we’d received the 116 programmes from the club to make up the packs for prebooked tickets I’d marvelled at the quality of what is for all clubs hosting a hop game in this league, a one-off issue. It was a glossy, full colour 32 page effort and gave me massive confidence in the club’s ability to host the game.

My confidence was well-placed as when the coach party arrived at the King George V Playing Field the coach parking was coned off (despite the rugby club’s best attempts!) and the ground a hive of activity. The marquee erected in one corner was an inspired move, and the club did a roaring trade in real ales and ciders, together with that staple of the Welsh Hop Lamb Cawl. The lamb broth is popular with the predominantly English visitors, to the extent that for the first time we had an incidence of “Cawl Wars!”

At GroundhopUK we encourage clubs to provide interesting, varied catering and where possible to give a flavour of the area we’re visiting. We discourage burger vans, as they are dull, but also are a neat way for a club to pay someone to take their day’s biggest source of revenue away. When planning an event we send out an Excel “Progress,” spreadsheet and one entry is for catering. When the sheet headed back to us we noticed that Cardigan and the next game, Cilgerran both wanted to do Cawl. We didn’t want any repetition, so there was a little to-ing and fro-ing and eventually Cilgerran changed their plans. As you’ll see later, that proved to be a good move for all concerned!

The line-ups board was waiting for us when we arrived, but I was intrigued by one name, Slovak amongst the Davies, and Jones. It transpired that the correct name was Slavomir Waleczek, but no one at the club can spell his name, so the nickname of Slovak gets used! Here’s the thing he’s Polish, not Slovak, something obviously got lost in the translation!

With this being our third year of watching Ceredigion League football one or two things have become clear. Firstly, that New Quay are a major force in the league, winning the title for the last 3 years, and beating another talented team, St Dogmaels in a frankly amazing hop game last year. Secondly, with there being quite a difference in quality between divisions 1 and 2, I expected New Quay to be too strong for last season’s division 2 champions. I was proved completely wrong, not least because the visitors have lost many of last year’s team. Put simply Cardigan put them to the sword.

The ground is one of those places that seems like a town square, just the rugby ground end not having houses as a background. It reminded many of Aberaeron‘s former ground Cae Sgwar with the result being I got asked whether and when we’ll be featuring the club on a hop at their new ground. The difficulty is that the club failed to make money on the first hop game; that was because they failed to take a gate, and handed their catering to a burger van, and when we invited them to host a game they didn’t respond. Perhaps when you read an article based on me paying them a visit on my own, it can be taken as read that it won’t happen! We’d like it to happen, but the goodwill has to cut both ways.

New Quay’s demise all started with Ben Davies arrogant back-heel following some hesitant New Quay defending, and it was the same player that doubled Cardigan’s lead, this time by more conventional means, blasting a 20 yard shot past Sam Bertie in the New Quay goal. With former Aberystwyth midfielder Kevin Morgan looking a class apart from everyone else, it was his pass that found Jack Morgan for the goal of the game, a curling 25 yard effort into the top right hand corner.

The fourth goal saw Morgan’s blocked effort tapped in by substitute Dan Nash, before Morgan got the goal his performance deserved, a cheeky free kick from the edge of the box that went in the bottom right hand corner when the entire defence was expecting top left! New Quay were forced to play the last 30 minutes when Marc Davies limped off two minutes after they’d made their last substitution and once again it was Kevin Morgan that made them pay, his chipped pass bypassing the defence for Nash to have the easiest of tasks to tap home.

If the game was a surprise to me, then the hosting wasn’t and I knew that the next game at Cilgerran was going to be excellent too.