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Monday 25th August 2014 ko 14.15

Welsh Alliance Division Two

ST ASAPH CITY 3 (Midgley 22 61 D Evans 63)

MOCHDRE SPORTS 1 (Philips 75)

Att 254

Entry £3

Programme £1

It was quite a tight squeeze getting 2 coaches into the lane down to Roe Plas, but once again there was someone there from the club to direct us down. I do wonder whether hop clubs realise how much our coach drivers appreciate having someone to meet them?

St Asaph is one of Britain’s newest old cities, having been awarded city status in 2012. However that was the culmination of years of campaigning by the locals. The root of the claim was the small 14th century cathedral, and as late as 1911, St Asaph was still regarded as a city. The ending of the link between a cathedral and city status ended St Asaph’s stint as a city, but the Diamond Jubilee celebrations saw its restoration and now the city luxuriates in being Britain’s second-smallest city behind Welsh brothers St Davids.

Is there a league with a greater differential in clubs’ facilities than the Welsh Alliance? The trip from Holywell saw us leave a fully enclosed ground with cover and seats to a ground with none of these, just a rope round the pitch and dugouts from the “Heath Robinson” school.

Under these circumstances a club has to work all the harder to make a success of their hop day, and make no mistake, St Asaph worked their socks off. But here’s the surprise for me; I didn’t expect them to be this good. Perhaps it was their mistake with the badges, ordering paper under plastic ones rather than the metal and enamel type that hoppers love that set the wrong tone. The badge issue is one that GroundhopUK will deal with, but other than that, the club made the most of each and every opportunity. The chilli was excellent, the vegetarians enjoyed their soup, and the cakes sold, like, well hot cakes!

In these Welsh hop articles I’ve explored the idea of charm. Blaenau Amateurs had it, so did Nefyn United, and you can add St Asaph to the list. It’s the little things that draw people to you, and in a purely financial sense to spend the extra £1 with you. The club smiled, put the raffle numbers on the board in English and Welsh, and had loads of prizes for the raffle! Tired visitors loved them for it, and perhaps the gods smiled on them too, as the forecast torrential rain restricted itself to a sulky drizzle.

The club’s excellence off the pitch was translated into a victory on it. They were too good for the league’s newcomers, whose only strike late on was courtesy of a defensive howler.

It all provided a good follow-up to the morning’s entertainment, but as I checked off the manifest on coach 2, I wondered what we’d find at the end of our short journey.