Saturday 23rd August 2014 ko 14.00
NEFYN UNITED 0 L Evans missed penalty 76
LLANLLYFNI 4 (G Williams 29 M Davies 67 L Griffith 85 90)
Like Pwllheli before, Nefyn lies on the Llyn peninsula and the nearer we got to the town where singer-songwriter Duffy grew up, the scenery got steadily more spectacular. The Iron Age hill fort Garn Boduan, and hills of Gwylwyr Carreglefain vindicated our decision to bring the hop here, despite Nefyn not being in the Welsh Alliance.
I should explain; GroundhopUK’s agreement with the Welsh Alliance is to visit, where practicable, all member clubs on their own grounds. With Pwllheli being first on our to-visit list it was entirely logical to visit Nefyn’s Cae’r Delyn home straight afterwards. We’d provided the instructions on how to hold a hop game, held the planning meetings, and the club had done all the preparation, but then the team manager got promoted at work….
He resigned, not having any time to devote to football, and many of the players left. The club was forced to resign from the league, which immediately gave us a problem. Our agreement is with the Welsh Alliance, not the Gwynedd League that Nefyn now found themselves in, so the league would have been quite within their rights to insist that another club take their place.
Dear reader please don’t assume that the Welsh Alliance’s agreement was a foregone conclusion. I remember in the days of the Hellenic hops, wanting to pad out a day in the Reading area with a visit to South Reading of the Reading League. The fixture, a game against a Hellenic side, in a county cup made groundhop sense, but the league refused to allow us to go there commenting that that the Hellenic hop should only visit Hellenic clubs.
So if you were there, and loved the club and its surroundings please thank Ron Bridges of the Welsh Alliance for allowing us to keep the game on the schedule, and the Gwynedd League for allowing a slightly earlier kick-off and providing a first eleven opposition.
We wondered, with all the upheaval, how Nefyn would cope with the large crowd, but from the moment we saw the sign by the roundabout on the main road we had nothing to worry about.
I did wonder how the club were going to display the line-ups, but when I asked, I was shown into the home dressing room where a copier/printer was producing copies of the teamsheets that had just been handed to the referee. 10p a copy isn’t a great money-spinner but hopefully it recouped the costs of producing what is a popular item.
It all went so well for Nefyn, the pork rolls sold well, and the raffle was popular judging by the number of people that surrounded the clubhouse when I drew the winning tickets at half-time!
In fact it was on the pitch where Nefyn’s problems were manifest, and even then 0-4 was harsh. They’re using youth to replace the lost players, and they’ve got a little to learn, particularly in front of goal.
All too soon it was over and as we left for Barmouth I had time to reflect on what had happened. Any club we work with on a hop will make money if they follow our guidelines, they’ve been tried and tested on 240 or so games, over 12 years. But for some clubs there’s something else, something less tangible. For Nefyn that was the chance to show they’re still alive and kicking.