Hopkinstown, Maritime Recreation Ground, Non League, Pontypridd FC, Taff Ely and Rhymney Valley League, Wales
Saturday 1st September 2018 ko 14.00
Taff Ely Rhymney Valley League Division 1
PONTYPRIDD FC 3 (Hughes 3og Griffiths 53p Lewis 90)
HOPKINSTOWN 3 (Gooch 4p Thomas 22 Solly 85)
Baker sent off 90 (violent conduct)
After an 11-game blast around the Valleys over the previous weekend you’d have thought the very last thing I’d want is another game in the area! But my regular reader has probably worked out by now that I’m a contrary soul, and I’d had a rather interesting conversation at Rhydyfelin on the Monday of the hop….
It had all come about due to Jordan Forster, a blogger and regular contributor to the “Y Clwb Pel-Droed” website. He introduced me to representatives of the new Pontypridd FC club and I was rather intrigued.
On one level, they’re the reserve side of Pontypridd Town, who’ve split from the parent club on the basis that they couldn’t seek promotion to the Premier Division of the TERV League unless they were a standalone club.
On the other, Pontypridd Town don’t play in Pontypridd anymore. Their home is at the the USW Sports Park in nearby Nantgarw, but for part of the season they’re based at Leckwith Stadium in distant Cardiff while improvements are made back at the Sports Park. You could take the view that there’s room in Pontypridd for a side called Pontypridd, playing in Pontypridd, even if Town’s former home at Ynysangharad Park has Graig FC, a district of Pontypridd playing there.
The way to look at this is as a revival of the old Pontypridd badge and name and to confuse matters still further it’s worth pointing out that Ponty Town are the result of Ynysybwll renaming themselves Pontypridd-Ynysybwll in 1991 then to Pontypridd Town in 1992. Of course anyone on the recent Welsh Hop will know there’s a new Ynysybwll; they were the away team at the frankly amazing game at Rhydyfelin.
But this felt more of a breakaway club than a protest, even if the club did initially try to play their home games at Taff Vale Park, home to Pontypridd RUFC Juniors and from 1912 to 1926 where the original Pontypridd FC played Southern League football. The long term aim is to return to what the club regards as it’s spiritual home, Ynysangharad Park.
Now I’m sure some will look a the Maritime Recreation Field, and see 3G pitch in a cage. And yes, that’s precisely what it is, but its history is what makes it what it is. It’s the site of the Maritime Colliery, Maesycoed that closed in 1961, and at its peak had an coking works adjacent, but save for the name there’s precious little to indicate the site’s former use.
But in the end this was the chance to do something unusual and that was to watch a football club’s first ever competitive fixture, and there was the added bonus of the opposition being yet another district of Pontypridd- Hopkinstown.
I couldn’t hope to get a game as good as the Rhydyfelin one, that was never going to happen, but the game was everything a club playing their first competitive fixture. An own goal gave Ponty the lead but a Rhys Gooch penalty and a defensive error at a corner saw Hopkinstown turn the tables through Callum Thomas.
Ponty dug deep and a Liam Griffiths penalty saw them equalise. At that point I thought a draw would be both the result and a fair one at that. I was correct, but not in the way I’d thought. A clearance hit Hopkinstown’s Anthony Solly and he was able to fire home what I’m sure he thought was the winner.
But there was still far more to come. A goalmouth scramble saw Geraint Lewis stab home for a deserved point before a flashpoint between Greg Baker and Lewis saw the former receive a red card for violent conduct.
A point each was fair, even if the romantic in me rather wanted win for Ponty on their debut. Who knows what the future holds for them, but good luck to them. They gave me a mighty enjoyable afternoon out.