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Saturday 25th July 2015 ko 14.30

Pre-Season Friendly

CLYDACH WASPS 0

NEWPORT YMCA 5 (28, 32, 66, 78, 81)

Att 24

Entry FREE

No Programme

If I were to scroll back through my football watching, 10 years ago I simply wouldn’t have watched this. It seems to me the lot of the new groundhopper is that the potential enormity of the hobby leads to the pursuer making rules to limit the sheer volume of possibilities on any given Saturday. Some of the popular ones include, “I don’t do fields,” ” I must have a programme,” and ” I won’t do below (names a division)”

Now the trouble with any hard-and-fast rule is that as soon as you make it, someone will immediate find an equally hard-and-fast exception to it. And the Clydach Wasps are a classic example of this.

When I’d planned this, the idea was to find something to pair with the 12.30 kick-off at Blaenavon, and I’m grateful to Ynysddu Welfare’s twitter account for helping find this game. I used an online map tool to find the Clydach Recreation Ground, and saw that it was 5 miles from Blaenavon. What it didn’t reveal that it was also 2 miles straight down, in the bottom of the valley. On the way down I passed through Llanelly Hill where newly formed Forgeside (“Forged” from Blaenavon’s former 3rd XI) were half an hour into their own friendly. They’ll be playing in the Gwent Central League, and the view from their ground looked fairly spectacular!

Now the best decision I made several years ago was to get rid of all those self-imposed rules, and just experience everything on its own merits. When you rule nothing in or out, it gives the hobby all the space it needs to spring a surprise, and the Clydach Wasps certainly managed to do that.

If your rule is the availability of a programme, then you won’t be disappointed here. As with any visit to a Gwent County League game, do contact the club first though as print runs tend to be in single figures, if not printed to order! If you want your grounds enclosed with a stand, then you won’t be disappointed here either, even though the club will play next season in the Gwent County League’s second division. But let’s face it wherever you get your football fix the be-all and end-all is the great intangible, the “Wow” factor. And here, dear reader is why you simply have to pay this place a visit.

Since my rule-making days I’ve clocked up the best part of 1,700 grounds, and you live for those odd occasions when you climb out of the car, stand stock-still and just… gape! I needn’t describe anything further about South Clydach, as I think the pictures do the job quite satisfactorily!

They are a friendly, and knowledgeable bunch too. It transpires that the ground doesn’t quite fulfil Welsh League ground-grading. It isn’t quite enclosed enough, and the pitch needs to be railed in front of the stand. Of course, despite being close to the “Heads of the Valleys” road, wanting promotion isn’t a gimme. One set of players wanted promotion one year, their manager didn’t so he made sure all the pre-season friendlies were in Neath, Bridgend and Port Talbot. They saw his point after that…

On this sunny day Wasps had one issue and one issue only, lack of players. The idea was for the reserves to play in the morning, and the first XI in this game, but half the players failed to show for the second match. Many players played two games, so YMCA from the Welsh League Division 3 ended up playing against a weakened side that in the second half quickly ran out of steam. YMCA ran in 5 goals, and the result was sadly, entirely deserved. The crumb of comfort for those poor, exhausted home players was that at least they got one heck of a workout!