Sunday 17th April 2016 ko 15.00
Carmarthenshire League Division One
CARMARTHEN STARS 7 (Foschi 17 Thomas 20 61 Harvey 63 73
Rees 65 Deadman 72)
PONTHENRI 1 (A Williams 80og)
Carl’s coach arrived back in Carmarthen, and like every hopper I craned my neck so I could see what our final destination was like. Maybe the others there checked to see what facilities were but I know Chris Berezai and I saw exactly the same thing, we saw that we weren’t having to provide all the crowd!
That’s no criticism of any of the other clubs on this hop, more a comment of where lower-league football sits in the firmament in this league’s footprint. But here Carmarthen Stars took their opportunity, and turned it into a community event. That attracted the locals, pushed the attendance over 200, and I’ve no doubt made them a financial windfall.
But however well the Stars did, GroundhopUK’s visit produced a first that I don’t think will ever be repeated, we watched a game played on top of a dead elephant! Yes, you did read that correctly, the story goes that around 1910 a travelling circus visited Carmarthen and based themselves at Parc Myrddin. During their sojourn the elephant died and was buried in situ! I should report that the pitch is flat, and that noone had any issue in making any trunk calls during our stay….
We were touched when representives of two Ceredigion League clubs, Llanboidy and Pencader turned up to support us, and have a chat. They both hosted beautifully, and their support was greatly appreciated. They both know how to host, and they saw Stars produce a memorable afternoon’s entertainment. It was an afternoon where I needed to little else but buy ice creams for Robyn and I and relax.
Long term the big issue will be how Stars cope with Parc Myrddin. The club were born out of Carmarthen Town’s youth set-up, and with their being no changing facilities here, the players change at Richmond Park and cross over Richmond Terrace to play. That’s satisfactory for the Carmarthenshire League, but the club have ambitions for the Welsh League. That would necessitate a groundshare back at Richmond Park, a process that may be accelerated with a 3G pitch due to be laid there soon.
Those ambitions look well-founded with this disemboweling of Ponthenri, Stars looking as professional on the pitch as they did off it, but as the game and hop wound down I collected my thoughts on the weekend.
One of the many reasons I’m involved with GroundhopUK is hops like this that are off the beaten track, or to put it another way go to places I wouldn’t visit any other way. That said working with a league with zero web presence was a real challenge, and we’ll want the fixtures available a good deal earlier next time, and for the officials to be far more visible at the games.
There is however much that we can build on. All the clubs hosted satisfactorily, and 3 were excellent. Those three will provide a blueprint for us to build on the successes of this event, and whilst I think we’d all like to have seen more spectators, with an earlier fixture release, and so will the benefit the experiences of this year’s event we’ll make future years even better than this.