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Saturday 7th March 2015 ko 19.30

Ceredigion League Division One

NEWCASTLE EMYLN 2 (Almond 33 Jake Harris 67)

NEW QUAY 0

Att 194

Entry £3

Programme £1

Badge £3

The irony of this being the only time that the Ceredigion Hop could stage a Saturday night game with only three games left on the entire 4 year run was not lost on me. The hoppers’ cavalcade travelled south from Aberaeron and encountered a Police speed trap at Ffostrasol.

Twenty or so brake lights flashed in succession, and I was tempted to stop and comment to the sole policeman that if the local constabulary wanted to make money from the groundhop, we at GroundhopUK would have been happy for them to have a stall to sell goodies at any of our games. Perhaps it was our insistence that stall-holders have a full ticket for the entire event that was the problem?

Mind you I did wonder what was going on when two officers turned up during the game, I remembered the fun we’d had at the military base back last September, but the hopper in question had opted to miss this game!

He wasn’t the only one to do so. Newcastle Emlyn were relegated from the Welsh League at the end of last season, that is in groundhopper terms leaving a league where its mandatory to produce a programme and heading to one where it isn’t. To an outsider that doesn’t sound a lot, but it would have meant many would have dived for Parc Emlyn before Emlyn left the Welsh League. We were fortunate that the attendance held up well, with locals replacing those hoppers who opted to head to the pub.

The suffix “Emlyn” is taken from the name of the cantref, or medieval district, the town fell into, on the Carmarthenshire side of the River Teifi across from Ceredigion.

Legend has it that a wyvern, a winged viper breathing fire and smoke, landed on Newcastle Emlyn’s castle walls and settled down to sleep. Its appearance on the castle at first brought terror to all but, after the fear had died down, a few brave townsfolk sought to destroy monster.

A soldier devised the plan of wading the river Teifi to a point on the castle side and letting a red cloak float in the river as a decoy before shooting the beast in its stomach. The creature, so violently startled from its slumber, caught sight of the cloak and fell upon it with horrible shrieks and tore it to shreds. The assailant meanwhile, escaped, but the wyvern, in its death throes, turned onto its back and floated down the river. Unfortunately for the town, the creature’s blood was a horrible venom which polluted the water and killed all the fish! Idris the dragon on Ivor the Engine was never like that..

I have to say I didn’t see any fish on sale at the ground, the menu of curry, or lamb and apple burger was more than adequate though. The club found a novel way of finding volunteers, their women’s team helped out. They play in the Women’s Welsh Premier League, so they were knowledgeable, as well as friendly and good at football. Actually are any of them single?

Parc Emlyn surprised me, Welsh League ground gradings aren’t onerus, basically an enclosed ground with cover for 100 will get you up to the second tier of the Welsh game. This was far better, looking like an English Conference ground.

What I wasn’t certain of was what Emlyn would be like to watch. I should explain, you now know that the first eleven were relegated, but the reserves won the Ceredigion League, creating the unfortunate situation of a champion side being relegated to accommodate the firsts! It seems that the issue for the club was the age-old problem of travelling, with Emlyn having no problems recruiting for local football, but encountering real issues for long trips along the M4.

The game proved the point. New Quay tend to be one of the stronger sides in the league, their narrow pitch preventing promotion to the Mid-Wales League, even if their participation in 3 hop games has only seen one win, at St Dogmaels in a game no one will ever forget! This time Emlyn were just too quick and too clever, and were worthy winners.

It concluded an excellent day’s hopping at 4 differing clubs and grounds, and all showed both themselves and their league in the best possible light. As I made my way back to Carmarthen I reflected on a day that couldn’t have been much better, the only issue going forward was the weather for Sunday, was I going to regret not buying a brolly at Aberaeron?