Saturday 24th June 2017 ko 14.30
DENBIGH TOWN 4 (13p 73 77 86og)
C.P.D. LLANUWCHLLYN 2 (82 90)
Att 45 @ Ty Isa, Rhewl. (Rhewl FC)
And Llangollen Railway
Return ticket from Corwen East to Llangollen £15
It was a day of coincidences, another chance to watch a Welsh pre-season friendly in June, and another chance to double it up with a heritage steam train ride. This time the railway was full-sized, although the Llangollen Railway runs on tracks once part of the Ruabon to Barmouth line axed under Beeching. That route included the now Bala Lake Railway which we’d travelled on the previous week!
Our modus operandi did take a little tweaking. The game was at Rhewl in Denbighshire, not the nearer Rhewl near Llantysilio. That version we virtually passed on the train. It meant that the obvious place to catch the train was at Corwen, even if all the facilities of the railway are at the Llangollen end. That will change, the terminus station at Corwen East is temporary and a £500,000 project is seeing the line extended a further few hundred yards and a new station, Corwen Central built, albeit still some distance from the former Corwen station, now a garage.
It was a relaxed journey to Llangollen, with just enough time to grab a bacon roll and a coffee at the station cafe for the journey back to Corwen. The route closely follows the River Dee and takes in views of the Horseshoe Falls, and the Chainbridge Hotel and bridge at Berwyn. The advantage of starting and ending your journey in Corwen is that there’s plenty of parking, in marked contrast to Llangollen!
From Corwen it was a 20 mile dash north via Ruthin to Rhewl, and the ground is something rather unusual! Many will remember Denbigh’s Central Park from the Welsh Alliance Hop game in 2013 but due to the town carnival they needed an alternate venue.
That ended up being Rhewl FC, which sent me scurrying for the directories, as they play in the Llandrynog & District League, which may well be unique in Wales, as it’s a non-affiliated (to the FAW) summer league. There are a few non-affiliated summer leagues in England, and more in Scotland, but I can’t think of any others in Wales. With Llandyrnog League games only being played on Mondays and Thursdays work commitments meant this represented a rare chance to see a game played at one of their grounds. Incidentally Welsh Alliance outfit Llandyrnog United‘s Nant Glyd ground also is used by the league.
Also odd was why the friendly was being played, I never did find out why. Welsh Premier clubs in European competitions tend to start their pre-seasons in June, but Denbigh play in the Cymru Alliance, Wales’ second tier in the north whilst Llanuwchllyn play in the Wrexham Area League, the 3rd tier in their part of North Wales. Their ground is just a few hundred yards from where we caught the Bala Lake Railway the previous week for yet another coincidence! Neither will start the 2017/18 season for quite some while. Perhaps the point was to maintain a level of fitness over the summer. It didn’t matter too much, and the game was entertaining enough!
The surprise was how well-matched the sides were, it could be that rolling substitutions helped. In Welsh football, even a single-tier gap between the divisions can be huge. Denbigh moved the ball better, and Llanuwchllyn relied on a well-organised defence to keep themselves in the game, at least until the agonising own-goal late on! But until Llanuwchllyn rather ran out of steam in the final few minutes this was a good competitive game to watch.
There was something in it for everyone; for the players the chance to maintain their fitness, for management the chance to look at players and tactics, and for those spectating the chance to enjoy a game at an unusual venue.