Monday 26th August 2019 ko 17.00
Gwent Premier League Premier Division
NEWPORT CIVIL SERVICE 2 (Edwards 9 86)
ABERCARN UNITED 0
If you stick to the basics of it, this year’s Welsh Hop finished at the Play Football Centre in the Bettws district of Newport, but that wasn’t the half of it! Now as organisers we’ve long since used groundhoppers’ liking of matchday programmes as a device to drive ticket sales which in turn give us a steer of numbers, which allows our host clubs plan for crowds far in excess of what they see normally. The modus operandi sees the ticket holders pick up their programmes in a pack at the first game they attend, and with 3 days since the Oak game one of two of the “Big Numbers” hoppers who hadn’t bought tickets had seen the front cover of the Newport Civil Service programme.
Now I’m well used to some of those chaps’ aversion to buying in advance, for some I’m sure it’s seen as a form of oneupmanship, at least until the programmes run out (!) but here there was an unintended consequence, and it boiled down to one sentence on the front cover. Most of them (and me) had visited Civils during their stint in the Welsh League, on the grass pitch at the back of the centre. But that sentence read “Civil 3G football, Shannon Close” so was this game on the pitch they’d been to, or something adjacent. The coach parked up, and there was a gaggle of them trying to work out whether this worked out as a revisit, and once they’d worked that it was, should they come in and watch?
I could have been so easily been thinking along their lines, and had I not been part of the organising team the temptation would have been there to head for home early. That’s why Chris and I try to avoid scheduling clubs with recent histories in higher divisions as last games in our events.
But the crowd didn’t suffer, even if some hoppers did head for home. I found myself comparing this to last year’s final game at AFC Whitchurch where the locals turned up in force, and the same happened here! Perhaps the Sunday evening game is the slot to covet!
The ground remains much the same as it was during the Civils’ stint in the Welsh League, and as such we saw the only two stands of the 11 game hop! On the pitch Civils deservedly won, with one or two hoppers thinking Luke Edwards had notched a hat trick- one goal got disallowed but it wasn’t immediately obvious!
It had been a hop far better than Chris and I could have expected, and that it due to the excellence of all of our host clubs. Due to us all receiving the fixtures late those clubs had less time to prepare than was acceptable, and in the case of Ynysddu too little time for a replacement club to be found when Pilcs let them, and everyone else down. That isn’t acceptable going forward and the Gwent Premier League are aware of this. Perhaps the way to look at it that the 13th Welsh Hop was bound to attract some bad luck!!
We were fortunate with the weather, so where perhaps some hoppers used the uncertainty of the fixtures to head elsewhere they were replaced by locals. Hopefully some of those folks will have liked what they saw enough to become regular supporters.
Whatever the difficulties in getting this hop up and running it was successful by just about any measure, and enjoyable with it, and thanks to everyone who contributed to that.