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Saturday 26th August 2017 ko 10.45

South Wales Alliance Division 1

TREBANOG 4 (Howe 2 10 Hares 52 Cory 58)

GARW S.G.B.C. 0

Att 265

Entry £3

Programme £1

The young man was waiting to greet the GroundhopUK coaches, resplendent in his Trebanog training top and baseball cap. He positively floated over, and welcomed us all to his village, explaining, “I’d be playing, but I’m banned!”

We’d met Trebanog, then new to the league, at Garw last year, and it’s fair to say they made quite an impression!

Obviously a 7-2 scoreline helped, and that’s why the fixture was reversed for this year. But to write off Trebanog as a rough-tough Rhondda pit village would be to do them a massive disservice, if nothing else the village is where Dorothy Squires the singer, and former wife to Roger Moore spent her last years.

The coach left Treforest via our usual “See how much bacon you can eat,” breakfast at the Upper Boat, but as we climbed to the southern outpost of the Rhondda I pondered the day. I don’t think there’s anyone involved with groundhop organising, that the organisers, players, leagues or clubs who particularly likes the 4-in-day format we used on this day. It’s busy, very busy in fact, and at the end of the day we all flopped into the Otley Arms back in Treforest.

But in the set of compromises that is the successful groundhop it is the successful format for the Saturday, in that it minimises the the “Drift” when hoppers head elsewhere for the middle of 3 games. We learned a salutary lesson on the Easter Hop where we hoped that the majority of the hoppers would understand their side of the compromise, but enough went “Off Piste” at Armthorpe and West Didsbury for us to have reached a conclusion. It will take a lot of convincing to make Chris Berezai and I schedule anything near a 3pm kick-off again. The compromise has to include the needs of the clubs after all!

Trebanog FC was born in 2013 out of the reserves of AFC Porth, and entered the Rhondda & District League, and their progress has been little short of meteoric since. Last year they were promoted as runners-up to Garw but with clubs that rise through the ranks this quickly the ground often fails to inspire, it simply hasn’t been able to keep up! That isn’t the case here and the high grass bank gives a wonderful view of both the action and the scenery.

That and the alien space-ships! Yes, I know they’re water towers, and being right at the top of the valley they’re certainly well-placed! They give an unworldly feel to the place, which may just have have influenced the locals, we created complete chaos outside the ground as the huge crowd departed! I’m not sure whether the single PSCO drafted into action knew what was going on or why there were so many obsessive -compulsives all in the same place!

We’d all seem a good game too. It was a little surprising that Trebanog won so handsomely given last year’s result, but much of the reason was keeper Sam Lhomme. Last year he struggled, but this time round he turned in a man-of-the-match pulling off some fine saves. Perhaps his glasses in the rain last year were a bad combination? Garw played well, but didn’t have the answers this time round.

I fully expect both clubs to be in the promotion mix at the end of the season, but as I coaches cleared the traffic and headed down the road to Tonyrefail it was clear that Trebanog had given us the a wonderful start to our day.