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Sunday 6th May 2018 ko 14.00

Bridgend & District Sunday League- Division One Cup Final

GARTH VADER 3 (Roberts 55 66 Evans 58p)

THE SEAGULL 1 (Jones 9)

Att c70 at Llangeinor FC

Free Entry

To some people’s logic, driving from Long Eaton via Bristol to the valleys north of Bridgend to watch a Sunday League game doesn’t make a lot of sense. In fact to some groundhoppers it made no sense either, and we’re a breed that’s used to travelling long distances for the most obscure of games. But when you boiled this one down it meant complete sense for the purest of reasons- you may not drive for 4 hours for football, but you would to support your friends.

And the friendship between GroundhopUK and Garth Vader is a partnership of equals. Put simply back in the day they helped us out and we helped them, and those who chose to criticise were met by Vader’s ability to find a smile in virtually any scenario.

After a terrible season when we’d first seen them, Vader had managed to regroup after relegation and had gained promotion back to the Premier Division. In fact the Welsh Spring Hop saw them presented with the runners-up trophy after the game at Wicked FC.

The location of the game proved interesting too. I still see Llangeinor FC as a Welsh League club, and was therefore shocked to see they’d won the relatively lowly Bridgend & District League. That qualified them for the play-offs for entry to the South Wales Alliance, which with the benefit of hindsight, they won.

Now with half an eye on August’s Welsh Hop that looked handy for GroundhopUK. But it looks like the ground will need building work, so they’ll be using the ground of the nearby, but defunct Bettws for the first few games of next season. Whichever way you look at it, it looks like we’ll be watching Llangeinor one way or the other!

But back to Sunday football. I arrived at Llangeinor Park to a plume of a smoke bomb at the conclusion of the Premier Division Final. It was a stiflingly hot day, and just what was facing my friends moved into sharp focus. If Vader were the division’s runners-up they faced the Porthcawl-based The Seagull, the division’s unbeaten winners. Add to that my unfortunate habit of jinxing every single friendly club I go and watch, and I did worry that I’d end up watching Vader lose for the third time.

But somehow they managed to beat all those odds and win. It took time, and some inspired goalkeeping from Cory Sheldon, but once Steffan Roberts gave Vader the lead, I felt a sense of calm in that Vader would be able to see the game out. For once my gut feeling was correct and although The Seagull managed a late consolation, it was unquestionably Garth Vader’s day, even if it was equally The Seagull’s season, and their behaviour during the presentations was classy. The disappointment of falling short in their quest for an invincible season at the hurdle was obvious.

But when it comes to the Bridgend & District Sunday League I’m a Garth Vader fan, and I headed back along the M4 with the silly grin that you only ever when when the victory means something. And when it’s your friends, well that victory tastes just that little bit sweeter.