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Tuesday 30th April 2019 ko 20.00

Gwent County League Division One

YNYSDDU WELFARE 4 (Price 47 53 62 Watkins 72)

WATTSVILLE 2 (Roch 24 79)

Att 43 at Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre

Entry FREE

Programme £1

As a groundhopper you find yourself questioning your sanity on a fairly regular basis. You take a psychological step back from what you’re doing and in this case wonder why you’re travelling from Oxford to South Wales, through evening rush hour traffic to watch a game on a plastic pitch in a cage at a leisure centre the local council are trying to close. But if there was one club I simply had to write about this season it was Ynysddu Welfare.

Some may remember the club as Ynysddu Crusaders, we visited them on a South Wales Alliance Hop back in the day at their old ground at 9 Mile Point. My memory of them other than what good hosts they were was the inability of many to pronounce their name- UNN ISS DEE!

The club played in the SWAL on grandfather’s rights, as a Gwent club they knew that if they ever dropped out of the league they’d have to go into the Gwent pyramid which is precisely what happened in 2012. By then the club were taking adavantage of the floodlights and 3G pitch at Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre when 9 Mile Point was waterlogged and eventually moved there permanently.

But its this season where little Ynysddu have really caught the imagination of the footballing world. Their Twitter feed @ynswelfare has long been one of the most entertaining in South Wales football, not least due to the annual Miss Ynysddu competition! Sadly Shidey’s sister wasn’t at this game…

Then there was this season’s run in the Welsh Cup, they made it to the third round having  beaten higher ranked three times on the way. Croesyceilog, Taffs Well and Monmouth Town were all beaten to bring about a tie at home to Welsh Premier League (and who play 5 promotions higher) outfit Cefn Druids. They finally met their match but Chris Powell’s blog covers their day.

Then there was the delightful tale of Ynysddu’s run in the FAW Youth Cup, which they managed to enter with one minor handicap- they didn’t actually have a youth team! Their entry was a clerical error, so on 9 days notice they put out a plea for players. They received enquiries from as far as Essex and Northern Ireland but managed to register a side of local lads in 24 hours. The team then travelled to Briton Ferry and managed to win the tie on penalties. Not bad for a side that didn’t exist! Ynysddu lost to Llanelli in the second round.

So you could have been forgiven for thinking that this game would have seen Ynysddu easing off for their last home game of the season. But a few weeks ago, Caerphilly Council dropped a bombshell, by announcing the closure of Pontllanffraith Leisure Centre as a cost cutting exercise by June 30th. That would leave both Ynysddu and fellow users Wattsville homeless, and the Ddu’s reaction was both swift and loud. All that goodwill generated on social media proved useful.

A campaign has started to keep the centre open, but both Ynysddu and Wattsville needed help and fast. The furore saw the council agree to improvements to the 9 Mile Point Ground so that Ynysddu can return there for next season. Wattsville appear to have found a base at the Hockey Field, Cwmfelifach, a former home of Ynysddu. As I type a court order is preventing the Caerphilly Council closing the leisure centre, but its future seems more likely to be housing than sport.

But if the leisure centre is to close then what better way to say goodbye than have the last competitive game a local derby between the two sides who’ve used Pontllanfraith? It was everything you’d expect from a Valleys derby. Tough, committed, with no quarter asked or given, but a shake of the hand, a grin and a beer afterwards.

It went by the form book, Price’s hat trick saw to that, and I left regretting that GroundhopUK will probably never be able to bring the coaches here. But at no time, once here, did I question my sanity- that came whilst waiting for my KFC on the way back to the M4! But if you use Twitter don’t forget to give @ynyswelfare a follow. Life isn’t dull in their part of Gwent!