Satursday 17th December 2016 k0 14.00
Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division One
ACREFAIR YOUTH 1 (O Evans 5)
LLANGOLLEN TOWN 6 (Williams 8 19 45 Prosser 32 83 Jay 80)
If you’re one of those football fans that likes to turn up at the ground 30 seconds before kick-off, then the Bont playing field, on the outskirts of Froncysyllte is definitely the the ground to break that habit. The ground sits with the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct as is it’s backdrop so it makes sense to park up in either Froncysyllte or Trevor, and walk the towpath over the bridge for a quite wonderful view of the valley and the ground.
The Aqueduct, completed in 1805, is the longest and highest aqueduct in Great Britain, a Grade I Listed Building and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop and is 307 m long, 3.7 m wide and 1.60 m deep. To 21st century eyes it’s a spectacularly piece of 19th century engineering, but it was built to a high level of suspicion, not least as the cast iron boat carrying trough was and is held together by molten lead and boiling sugar!
The feat of engineering made Telford’s reputation, and he went on to build, amongst many other projects, the Menai suspension bridge, and the 382 mile Göta Canal linking Gothenburg to Stockholm. As an outsider to all this I can confirm that the aqueduct feels every centimetre of its 38 metre height!
But for all of its superlatives the bridge is something of a distraction to Acrefair Youth. Whilst I, and many others are attracted here by the edifice, the Dee Valley is a beautiful backdrop in any case. Or, if you’d prefer, you can just about see the tops of the floodlights of Cefn Druids’ “The Rock” stadium though the aqueduct’s arches.
I suspect competition in other places is the root of Acrefair’s problems. Having the oldest club is Wales nearby is one thing, and the likes of Wrexham and Shrewsbury Town no great distance away either. The impact is that Acrefair haven’t played higher than the Premier Division of the Wrexham Area League, and in recent years have struggled in the lower division, the fourth tier of Welsh football.
The Bont does what Acrefair needs it to, and the potential to improve the place is there as well. I wonder how many hoppers will pay the place a visit and think the grass back could so easily be turned into a Gornal Athletic-style terrace? But as it stands this is a lovely place to watch a game and the great advantage of a DIY tea bar is you get your beverage exactly how you like it!
The game encapsulated Acrefair’s difficulties, even if they did take the lead. I was shocked to see Llangollen at this low ebb, I remember seeing them at home to the now defunct Mynydd Isa prior to their one-season stint in the Cymru Alliance. Certainly Llangollen were far too good for their hosts, and Simon Williams’ hat trick topped off a man-of-the-match performance.
It was a highly enjoyable visit, but dear reader if you think as I did that a trip to Acrefair is all about the aqueduct, then I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised.