Sunday 25th August 2019 ko 11.00
Bridgend & District Sunday League – Premier Division
EWENNY RANGERS 3 (Paget 17 Cirotto 43 Taylor 78)
GARTH VADER 4 (Dickinson 40 Bellamy 60og Rogers 73 88)
Programme & Donation £2
With all due to respect to the good folk of the Bridgend & District Sunday League, the intention never was to pay them a visit, even if we do seem to be visited the football pitches of Bridgend, one at a time, once a year! When the Gwent Premier League finally gave Chris Berezai the finalised fixtures for the Welsh Hop we were scheduled to watch Ynysddu play Pilcs at Nine Mile Point. There was unfortunately an issue with that.
The problem was that we’d visited there 10 years previously during Ynysddu’s incarnation as Ynysddu Crusaders, so we needed either another game or another ground. Knowing Ben at Ynysddu as I do, I knew their former ground at Pontllainfraith Leisure Centre was still open, mainly due to a court order, but very much on borrowed time. So I contacted Ben, he booked the old pitch and a revisit was quickly turned into a last chance to tick opportunity.
Then with a week to go Pilcs decided they either wouldn’t or couldn’t fulfil the fixture. The reasons seemed to range from not wanting to play on the 3G at Pontllanfraith, to not being able to raise a side on a Sunday morning. In a sense their reasons don’t matter, but their unwillingness to play did, and with so little notice we couldn’t find either a new opponent for Ynysddu, or a fresh tie in either the Gwent or the South Wales Alliance Leagues.
Needless to say my sympathies lie entirely with Ben and all at Ynysddu Welfare, and since these events work on cooperation I can’t see us visiting Pilcs at any point in the future. We gave everyone who’d bought a ticket for the game a full refund in cash, and GroundhopUK swallowed the additional cost of sending the coach the extra distance to Bridgend.
The fixture to pick was straightforward, with GroundhopUK sponsoring Garth Vader is was simply a question of seeing where they were playing! From then Chris contacted Ewenny, got them to email enough information to put together a programme that was printed in Long Eaton as part of the tickets and blurb that go in the advanced packs, and in the end many hoppers simply took the £4 cash they received as the refund, and simply gave £2 for the programme and donation to Ewenny.
We got the Gwent League to put the two later kick-offs back an hour to accommodate the extra travel time, and while the new day wasn’t quite what anyone wanted, it was better than what Pilcs has left us with. A real bonus was the good it did Ewenny Rangers, who later commented that the morning has paid for their referees for the rest of the season! I just wish that we could have found a way to have helped Ynysddu Welfare. At least they beat Pilcs 2-1 in the “Oh to have been a fly on the wall, ” game at Nine Mile Point the day before.
So Bridgend it was, although Ewenny is a village a couple of miles south, joined at the hip to Corntown, home to Vale United but this time round the weather was a lot better! So Steve and the coach dropped us off at one end of Great Western Avenue (named after the former rail works adjacent) and the locals pottering about in their front gardens were rather shocked at the sight of 50-or-so hoppers making their way to their local park!
It was, as you’d expect everything Sunday league has to offer, both good and bad. Referee Goodman Maddocks, a veteran of the Wicked game 18 months ago, dealt with the inevitable requests for the team line-ups with grace and humour. But if you’re reading this, and are thinking “But I don’t do Sunday League,” well I understand and respect your point of view, but you missed the best game of the weekend.
It lurched Ewenny’s way, then Vader’s and for long periods fiancee Robyn was quite convinced Vader had lost this encounter, but substitute Matthew Rogers moved the result to the dark side with two late goals. It was a great morning’s entertainment, and one where those who were prepared to give it a chance were rewarded.
More than that it was good to be able to spread some good. All things considered and after what had gone before that was good for the soul.
Ewenny Rangers folded around a month after our visit. Clearly paying referees was not the issue!!