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Saturday 16th July 2016 ko 13.00

Pre-season friendly

NEW INN AFC 7 (13 17 32 41p 47 48 77)

SEVERN TUNNEL NPC 3 (65 75 90)

Att 35

Entry FREE

No Programme

The feeder leagues to the Welsh League are manna from heaven for the groundhopper. There’s a multiplicity of villages steeped in history (mainly in coal mining and steel production) and in the case of the league these two clubs play in, the Gwent County League, programme production is mandatory.

Mind you if the printed word is a deal-breaker for you I’d phone ahead before travelling, print runs do tend to be low, often in single figures. It’s seen as a chore by the majority of the clubs, little more than a means of avoiding a fine from the league!

But other than a trip to the iconic “Big Pit” national coal mining museum afterwards necessitating something reasonably close to Blaenavon, the two teams’ names are intriguing.

New Inn in Torfaen isn’t a pub, it’s a half village, half suburb south-east of Pontypool. It started life as overspill ribbon development around the railway and the steelworks at Panteg and grew sufficiently in its own right to be considered it’s own entity.

The football ground, or is that pitch, lies in the centre of the village. Don’t expect anything fancy, there’s a railed-off pitch and a changing block and not much else. But on a warm day what else do you need? There’s a friendly club, some interesting angles to photograph, and I promise that the “Iceland” shot wasn’t staged. They couldn’t have realised and acted on an Englishman being present could they?

Severn Tunnel are, unsurprisingly, Chepstow-based, and in case you were wondering the NPC stands for Non-Political Club. The idea was that there would be two games, with both teams changing line-ups every half. The trouble was that Severn Tunnel only brought around 15 players, and with them playing one division below their hosts in Gwent County Division 3, they looked on a hiding to nothing.

And so it proved, with New Inn rolling in goal after goal in a frankly one-sided first half. Now in a fully competitive game you might have expected them to “Declare” in the second half, but in this case New Inn’s changes weakened them slightly, and Tunnel found a little impetus. I’m not sure they’d point to themselves having won the second half, even if they did, the workout was much more important, and I do wonder how on earth they managed to play another game straight afterwards!

But there was much to enjoy for the casual spectator. Sometimes you need to steer yourself  away from the bright lights and the big cities, and enjoy the game at it’s grassroots.