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Saturday 27th August 2016 ko 10.30

South Wales Alliance – Premier Division

LLANTWIT FARDRE 6 (L Jawad 7 Miller 16 48 80 Griffiths 21 K Jawad 60)

BETTWS 0 Williams sent off (dangerous play 45)

Att 190

Entry £3

Programme £1

Badge £3

I’m not sure why I still felt tired, one piece of useful information from 6 years previously I had remembered. If you’ve enjoyed yourself at the Otley Arms and there are four of you that are sufficiently lazy, it is only £1 each to take a taxi up the hill back to your digs at the university in Treforest! That and we’d changed the way we do breakfast too….

Back in the day we’d had breakfast at the university, but the relationship had sometimes been strained, who could forget the “Breakfasts in a box” fiasco in 2005? The truth of the matter is that groundhoppers do seem to love a cooked breakfast in general and specifically bacon! So we did the simple thing, and ran two full coaches to the “Upper Boat” pub in Rhydyfelin and took full advantage of their buffet, “Eat as much as you like” breakfast deal. It worked perfectly, although I suspect after 3 days of us the pig population of South Wales has been decimated!

It had the other advantage of being a convenient place to meet Phil Sweet, the league’s assistant fixture secretary. It is a measure of the league, and of Phil personally that he and they wanted to, and he was able to join us on the coach. Having a league official on board is important on a PR basis, but as we found out a couple of years ago at Felinfach he can be a saviour!

The original plan wasn’t to visit Tonteg Park on this hop, we’d pencilled in Fochriw. But when they felt unable to host a large crowd it was an easy choice to ask the former Welsh League outfit which they were happy to do. Fochriw’s decision doesn’t mean we’ll never visit, and I’d far rather a team decline the invitation, than accept and fall flat on their faces. The league’s decision to make them the away team at Aberfan was a neat way of at the very least showing them what a hop game looks like.

Their loss was Llanwit Fardre’s gain, and they produced a well presented hop game. They left the Welsh League in 2010, returning to the South Wales Amateur League, and on a drizzly morning made full use of the stand with the roller shutters, selling bacon roll after bacon roll to hoppers who in some case I’d watch demolished mounds of bacon an hour earlier.

The surprise was Bettws though. It’s far to say they’d spent much of the last 4 years retaining their Welsh League status by the skin of their teeth, including being the unexplained and unexpected beneficiaries of the court case that placed the reformed Barry Town in the Welsh League in 2013. It wasn’t therefore a surprise that they finally succumbed to relegation last season, what was was how easily they capitulated.

The reason given was that they’d lost most of their players post-relegation. Those players had commented apparently that they were Welsh League players and so wanted to carry on playing in the league. Finishing 14th out of 18th would tend to suggest there’s a flaw in their argument..

Their cause wasn’t helped by the dismissal of Scott Williams for a quite dreadful challenge, and many wondered why they didn’t finish the game with 9 men after Craig Phillips was extremely fortunate to avoid a second yellow late on. In fact so fortunate was he that I sought out referee Mike Ford at the next game at Aberfan. He explained that he felt that he’d been a little hasty in issuing the first yellow!

In time Bettws will find their level, and in Welsh football the misery can carry on for years as those aware of the likes of  Abergavenny Thursdays can attest to! But for Llanwit Fardre there’s hope that a return to the promised land of the Welsh League is on the cards.