With the football season over prematurely due to the Coronavirus Pandemic I’m in the unusual position of actually having this blog up to date! So to keep the content coming, and for something to do, I’ll do some old grounds and games where there’s a story to tell.
And believe me there’s a story to tell here….
Wednesday October 31st 2007 ko 19.30
Welsh Premier League Cup Group A
CAERNARFON TOWN 2 (Addo 48p Glendenning 82)
Sampson sent off 76 (violent conduct) 76
Maxwell sent off 76 (violent conduct 76)
McGarry sent off 87 (2nd booking)
B Jones sent off 89 (2nd booking)
LLANGEFNI TOWN 3 (A Jones 3 Lloyd 15 C Jones 69)
C Evans sent off (violent conduct) 76
Lloyd sent off (violent conduct) 76
I remember the day well, or should I say the day before as well! I was working in Milton Keynes at the time, and the best I say for that part of my life is that at least it gave quick access to the M1! The previous day I’d headed to the North Wales coast to to watch Colwyn Bay, returned home, then back to work the next day. I sat in an uninspiring office, in a uninspiring job, in an uninspiring town and pondered should I head back up to North Wales after work? Silly question really…
Like Rhyl Caernarfon were one of the “Irate Eight” – Welsh clubs playing in the English game in 1991 when the League of Wales was formed. While Rhyl returned to the Welsh pyramid immediately, Caernarfon spent the next 3 seasons playing home games at Curzon Ashton FC in Manchester 110 miles away. They joined the Welsh Premier in 1996 even though Newport had won their restraint of trade case at the High Court and so Caernarfon could have returned to the Oval but still played in the Northern Premier League.
Take one step inside the Oval though and you can see what a pleasure the return home must have been, with its mixture of old and new stands. But on a cold Wednesday evening my thoughts were on what I was watching.
Back in 2007 the League of Wales had 18 teams in it, so it’s League cup, then sponsored by Loosemore’s Solicitors, took a little organising. The arrangement was a “Group Stage” first round with 6 groups of 3 clubs with the winners, and two best runners-up progressing to the quarter-finals. The issue I could have had with this game is that Llangefni, in their only (so far) season in the League of Wales had already qualified and Caernarfon couldn’t overtake Porthmadog for the runners-up spot. Moreover Porthmadog couldn’t qualify as a qualifying runner-up no matter what happened here. In short, it was the deadest of dead rubbers.
The Caernarfon secretary said as much when I called in at the office for a teamsheet to the extent that he offered to refund my admission if I decided that on reflection I’d rather head for home. Boy am I glad I didn’t take him on his offer.
Now I suspect you’ve got a question, “Why all the sendings off?” The answer is as simple as to say that for plenty of players there is no such thing as a “Dead Rubber” game and there were no end of players on show that had played for both clubs. It was a rough, tough encounter and after 76 minutes what was smouldering exploded. A 21 man brawl ( the Caernarfon keeper thought about joining in but quickly decided he couldn’t be bothered!) saw 4 red cards issued by referee Hugh Jones. Caernarfon’s Leyton Maxwell and Khyle Sampson and the visitors’ Chris Evans and Kevin Lloyd all departed, but plenty there wondered whether he’d over-reacted?
Over the next few days I contacted a few of my friends who were referees and they all agreed that under the circumstances they’d do the same as here, issue red cards to the two main protagonists, and the main two “runners” ie the players running over to join the melee. There was a suggestion made that the referee had picked the wrong two runners. But then only that one goalkeeper can claim to be wholly innocent!
The last 14 minutes were a mess. All self-control had disappeared and cards were brandished in liberal measure, and in that version of bingo it was inevitable that more red cards would be issued. Two more were to come including a bizarre one in stoppage time! Firstly Caernarfon’s Kevin McGarry collected his second yellow, but a minute or two later team mate Bobby Jones heavy challenge saw him booked for the second time but the clearly shell-shocked Jones the ref had a Graham Poll moment and failed to send him off.
What happened next I really ought to apologise for. A lone English voice yelled,
“Oi ref, that’s his second booking!!”
Poor Mr Jones turned over his yellow card, realised his error, and issued his sixth red card and in all honesty probably wished he’d hadn’t bothered with stoppage time. And as for me, I quickly tried to become invisible, surrounded as I was by home fans!
The hosts finished the game with the bare minimum 7 men, and I drove back to Banbury scarcely believing what I’d seen. On one hand no one wants to see any of the antics I saw here, but on the other it certainly was entertaining!