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Wednesday 5th November 2014 k0 19.30

Welsh League Division 3

CARDIFF GRANGE HARLEQUINS 2 (Cawley 15 Dabusso 52)

BRIDGEND STREET 3 (Penekett 37 Kane 55 Dunfold 75)

Att c33

Entry £3

Programme- None. The club puts a downloadable version on the results section of their website, but the website hasn’t been updated for a while.

It’s a long time since I first encountered the Grangetown-based team, taking a 7-0 drubbing away at Plas Kynaston Lane, then home to Cefn Druids in January 2006. That was during Quins one season in the Welsh Premier League, an unhappy experience for them, their chances of survival stymied by a major sponsor pulling out just before the start of the season. A year or two later I went to see them at their home at Leckwith Stadium, and even now there are still echoes from that time.

Leckwith Stadium was primarily an athletics venue, with one large stand with an excellent view of Cardiff City’s Ninian Park. Soon after Ninian Park and Leckwith Stadium were both demolished with Cardiff City Stadium giving the Bluebirds a new home, and the Cardiff International Sports Stadium a far more modern athletics facility for the capital, with the Quins moving in there. For the groundhopping O.C.D. wing it all produced a dilemma as the Cardiff City Stadium overlaps the footprint of the old Leckwith Stadium, making any visit to Cardiff City these days a revisit in some people’s eyes.

I paid my £3 at a table in the bowels of the stand with all the feel of a leisure centre, and took my seat in the stand. I glanced across to Cardiff City’s home with Cardiff City FC picked out in letters glowing bright red, now that’s changed since I was last here, but every so often the letters reverted to blue. It seemed rather schizophrenic of the club, but chairman Vincent Tan is a lore unto himself at the best of times I suppose!

There really weren’t many there, just my car party of 3, FAW councillor Bob Fry, and a scout from fellow Welsh Leaguers Rhoose, supplemented by the players’ friends, who artfully turned up late enough to avoid paying. When your gateman is also your assistant manager, the gate isn’t manned at kick-off.

The next bit to explain is the visitors, who aren’t from Bridgend! Bridgend Street is in Cardiff, and the club play in the district of Splott. Counter intuitively Splott Albion play in nearby Llanrumney, and those groundhoppers with longer memories may remember Sky Sports televising GroundhopUK’s visit. Don’t see this tie as any kind of local derby though, the enmity here is with Cardiff Corinthians.

And Harlequins have far more to worry about than local derbies, they are flat-bottom of the Welsh League with just 4 points, and the stadium is a massive luxury to rent when paying attendances are this low. If the club do get relegated, and become founder-members of the South Wales Alliance, the merger between the South Wales Amateur and Senior Leagues, then at least ground grading will allow them to play in a far more humble abode than this.

Not that relegation should be seen as certain, if for no other reason than the league does have a history of problems with exactly who plays in what division. After all, Cwmbran Celtic and Ammanford have only just started their Welsh League (in Divisions Two and Three respectively) after a legal wrangle over their relegations.

But let’s not assume that the Quins will finish in a relegation spot. They really aren’t that bad, after they led this one twice! The trouble was a brittle defence, low on confidence. Only the visitors’ first goal came from conventional means, their second was from a defensive error, the third courtesy of a goalkeeping howler. Sort out the errors and I suspect they have enough there to survive.

I walked round, and the fog, or was it firework smoke certainly added something to my photos, making an unlikely place for football one of the better places I’ve brandished a camera.