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Tuesday 21st July 2015 ko 19.15

Pre-Season Friendly

TRETHOMAS BLUEBIRDS 1 (Spain 3)

BARRY TOWN UNITED 1 (Fahiya 89)

Att c200

Entry £3

Programme £1

When I was growing up in Oxford my footballing routine was to cycle to my grandmother’s house before heading off to the Manor Ground. Afterwards Dad and I would have a cup of tea in willow-pattern cups whilst watching the football results on her Rediffusion television.

Sometimes it was on the BBC’s “Grandstand,” and sometimes is was on ITV’s “World of Sport.” If it was the ITV option then there was the added bonus of the rugby results, both Union and League too. Now I soon wondered where all those football and rugby clubs were, and I’m indebted to Dad for simply handing over the road atlas and telling me to look them up for myself, although I haven’t quite forgiven him for the likes of Port Vale and St Mirren! But those Welsh rugby clubs held an almost exotic quality for a small boy from the shires, and as I travel from town to town its wonderful to link what I’m seeing back to that Rediffusion TV.

But why talk about rugby clubs? Gwent County Leaguers Trethomas Bluebirds have vacated their Llanfabon Drive and moved to the next town along the road towards Caerphilly. The Bridgefield is the iconic home of Bedwas Rugby Club, and yes they did feature on my grandmother’s television! Trethomas’ motivation is clear, they aspire to Welsh League football, and to get that one extra promotion they need a ground that’s both enclosed and has a stand. Neither are possible where they were, so the move allows them ambition.

But let’s not forget the cultural element to this. You can drive through the villages in the valleys, united by the former coal industry, but divided by sport. Put simply Trethomas is football territory, while Bedwas is rugby country, and the two don’t necessarily get along.

Except in this case they seem to, there was a warm welcome from both sides of the sporting equation, and there’s plenty to fall in love with at a ground that started life in 1947 as a field with a former Ministry of Works long hut at one end to serve as a clubhouse. Its that near end that provides the intrigue, how often do you see a cover erected over the top of more or less everything underneath it?

If you have the slightest hint of empathy in your body you’ll have a soft spot for Barry, who successfully fought off an owner hell bent on closing them down, then a Welsh FA who well, I still don’t know why they wanted to send one of Wales’ most famous clubs down to park pitch level. But win they did and they’re now back in Welsh League Division One and you wonder how long it’ll take them to regain their Welsh Premier status.

This game was one of those games where both sides could legitimately claim to have got something tangible from it. For the Bluebirds can say they held a side 3 promotions above them to a draw and came mighty close to winning. Moreover the goal they scored can be scored again and again over the season. Toby Spain’s late run at a free kick to finish at close range doesn’t take any great strength or tactical awareness from his teammates. It does require great timing, and since he nearly repeated the feat later on, I assume its a party piece for him. Trethomas also have goalkeeper Gareth Williams too. He’s played for the likes of Cardiff City, Swansea City, Llanelli , Carmarthen Town, and Port Talbot, and what his defence couldn’t stop the classy custodian did.

For Barry, this will be seen as an excellent workout against a good sparring partner. They moved the ball well, and eventually got the goal their territorial superiority deserved. Yes, I know you shouldn’t read too much into friendlies, but by anyone’s standards this was an excellent evening’s entertainment, served up by two good sides on an iconic ground.