Friday 25th August 2017 ko 18.45
South Wales Alliance Premier Division
CWM WELFARE 2 (Williams 24 Whitfield 90)
CARDIFF CORINTHIANS 3 (R Withers 6 90 Misbah 57p)
Seldom have I felt so relaxed travelling down to a hop I’ve been involved in. The South Wales Alliance are the main reason why life is straightforward, we at GroundhopUK have been working with them and their predecessors, the South Wales Amateur League for years. Chris Berezai and I know that as and when an issue arises its simply a question of phoning either Dave or Phil at the league and it’s dealt with. We understand their needs, and they ours, and not every league can claim that!
It makes the compromise that is every successful groundhop an easier circle to square, and our one (small) issue proved the success of the relationship. We really wanted to put Canton Liberal on the hop, as they’d put themselves out to help us by being the away side at Sully Sports last time round. The issue was that with their ground being refurbished this season, they’ve moved 100 yards or so to Leckwith Stadium.
On one hand, Leckwith hasn’t seen a hop game, but then plenty of our clientele would have done it for the now defunct Cardiff Grange Quins, and more used Cardiff City‘s U23 game at 14.00 at Leckwith as a good excuse for a double! From a GroundhopUK perspective the league knew all this and when we phoned, they’d got Cogan Coronation ready to go!
Last year I’d have been surprised if you’d have told me we’d spend Friday evening in Beddau. Cwm Welfare are named after the Cwmbeddau coal mine and coking works, that lie derelict on the outskirts of the village near Pontypridd. Last year they suffered the agony of relegation from the Welsh League, as their opponents Cardiff Corinthians did the season before.
I always wonder what I’ll find when you visit a freshly relegated side, and that goes double in Wales. There’s a tragic precedent for a club to go into a death spiral, think of the likes of Abergavenny Thursdays and even Bettws who lost their Welsh League status in 2016. We saw them capitulate at Llantwit Fardre last year, and are now playing in the Bridgend & District League, 5 divisions away from the Welsh League.
Thankfully we saw no evidence of that malaise here. What we got was a club bang in the centre of it’s community facing outwards and making the most of a big crowd. I loved my faggots and peas, and if you think the crowd looked larger than what was pitchside, perhaps you should have looked down to the beer area. The place did a roaring trade in local real ales, to the extent that further supplies had to be sought-twice!
In this part of South Wales Rugby Union tends to be more popular than association rules, a glance to the right to Beddau RUFC rather proved the point, but it was good to buck that trend on a dull Friday night. That said we couldn’t produce a Cwm win, but truth be known I wasn’t unhappy at seeing a Corries victory.
They’d looked out-of-sorts when we’d seen them at Grange Albion, and although they’s improved massively by the time we visited Radyr in March, they still lost to eventual champions Pontyclun. Perhaps they were due a little groundhop luck.
Now one staple of the Welsh Hop is the Otley Arms in Treforest. Wales’ best real ale pub is at the bottom of the hill from the GroundhopUK accomodation at the university and after a day’s hopping far more get off the coach at the pub than at the uni!
This year my girlfriend Robyn couldn’t get the time off work to come to Cwm, so aimed to arrive at the Otley by train at around 9.00pm. The Otley agreed to keep the kitchen open a little longer to allow her to eat. Unfortunately the train out of Cardiff was delayed so she didn’t arrive until 9.45. We’d cancelled her order, but when we walked in the pub, we were amazed when they spotted her, and asked her whether she’d still like her food? Robyn greatly enjoyed her meal, and thanks to all at the Otley Arms in Treforest for their kindness. It set the tone for the entire weekend.