Monday 25th August 2014 ko 11.00
Welsh Alliance Division One
HOLYWELL TOWN 3 (Lloyd 4 Tyson 40 G Williams 69)
LLANDYRNOG UNITED 0
Back at the University of Chester my alarm sounded, and I dashed over to the window and peeked through the curtains. My heart sank as I watched the rivulets chase each other down the pane. 3 games left, including one we were worried about, but as I stepped into a shower (the portent of things to come?) I consoled myself that at least there would be nothing to worry about at Holywell, there is, after all, plenty of cover at Halkyn Road.
The two coaches set off under leaden skies and I quietly cursed each and every flick of the coach’s windscreen wipers. After 3 days of some lengthy drives I was pleased to have a shorter journey, and it wasn’t long before we reached the outskirts of Holywell.
I allowed myself an ironic smile when I saw the “Welcome to Holywell” signs. Underneath the legend was the codicil, “The Lourdes of Wales, ” a reference to St Winefride’s well, said to have healing properties. The smile was because I wondered whether the phrase was selling Holywell short, does Lourdes’ signs have “The Holywell of France,” on them?
We arrived at Halkyn road to a distinctly military theme, with the local Territorial Army helping the club with stewarding. It worked a treat, the club officials could do their jobs as normal and the stewarding was unobtrusive. We set up the GroundhopUK stand at one end of the stand, and while Chris sold tickets for the North Berkshire Hop I checked that the everything else was in order.
It speaks volumes for the club that I had to do absolutely nothing unless trying a bacon roll counts as work! The gaggle of hoppers facing a wall told me that the line-ups had been posted, and the queues by the tea hunt told me the catering was spot on. In fact one disappointment of the hop was the lack of a vegetarian option at far too many clubs, despite us asking for it. Holywell’s Bubble and Squeak was an honourable exception to that rule.
The crowd was healthy, extremely healthy in fact, even if someone did tell a club official that there was over 400 in the stand! There wasn’t, I know I counted, and once he’d done the same he agreed!
The excellent staging was carried over in the team’s performance. We’d seen Holywell put Llandudno Junction to the sword on the 2013 hop and here they did the same to thing here to Llandyrnog United. Perhaps the two clubs’ ambitions are divergent, certainly Holywell see a return to the Cymru Alliance as a short-term priority, and then to regain the Welsh Premier status they lost in 1999.
In the drizzle, the Wellmen used the slick surface to full advantage, and 3-nil wasn’t at all flattering to them. “Refuse to lose,” said the banner on the clubhouse wall. In truth it never looked likely.