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Saturday 26th August 2017 ko 13.45

South Wales Alliance Division One

TONYREFAIL B.G.C. 2 (T Davies 68p K Davies 90)

CEFN CRIBWR BOYS CLUB 3 (Harris 4 30 Davies 76)

Att 283

Entry £3

Programme £1

It was a short trip down the hill to Tonyrefail, but to one or two on the coaches it was a long-standing revisit of sorts. 14 years ago GroundhopUK had visited Tonyrefail Welfare, but that club is now plying it’s trade in the Rhondda League. But I digress, this year’s visit to the mining town was a trip that reinforced completely the view of when a well-presented groundhop game allows a club and fans to see each other in the best possible light. 

On one hand Tonyrefail Boys and Girls Club play on a railed-off pitch at the back of the local leisure centre, and the players have quite a walk from the changing rooms. On any given Saturday there’s the players, the goals, a view and not a tremendous else more. Now you could sneer, turn your nose up and go find somewhere with a Arena stand to salve your bruised sense of being, but you’d have missed out on a quite incredible little club.

It started on Twitter of all places. The club started tweeting a poll asking should they do chicken tikka or curry (they did both), and then which of the 4 Saturday Rhondda clubs would get the highest attendance. That was backed up with the local brewery supplying their wares, a cake stall, and a local advertising campaign to bring in the local support. The buzz they created was infectious to the point that there was a genuine sense of anticipation even as the coaches left Trebanog.

The impact was immediate, the gaggle of people buying a cake, or jotting down the line-ups or simply chatting to the friendly officials. It was life-affirming stuff, I grabbed a curry, jotted down the line-ups and simply enjoyed Tonyrefail BGC simply enjoying being themselves.

It also mean that 2 organisers had to do nothing else than count the crowd, and watch a club put on the type of community-based event that will produce a legacy far beyond the throng it attracted. You just love to see the passers-by look over, ask themselves what on earth is going on, then stroll over to find out. When you see that, that horrible little stand from a catalogue really doesn’t seem relevant does it?

Obviously the weather helped, not least with liquid sales. Its not easy asking people to watch a game in the rain after all. But the throng, expertly fed and watered enjoyed an excellent game. I did wonder whether Bugsy and co at Cefn Cribwr had passed on any tips, but if cooperation had happened that cooperation ended at the start of the game. They looked a far stronger side than last year’s team, and were good value for their win, even if they did ease off towards the end allowing Tonyrefail to keep it interesting as the clock wound down.

But despite the result it was clearly Tonyrefail’s afternoon. They managed to turn two coachloads of hoppers and a football match into something far greater than the sum of it’s parts. Good luck to them.