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Sunday 18th February 2007 ko 14.00

Welsh League Division 3

YSTRADGYNLAIS 3 (Hopkins 37p Maggs 82 86)

CWMBRAN CELTIC (Williamson 9 32 Cheedy 16)

Att 47

Entry & Programme £2

When I put together these articles, I tend to ask myself the same question and that’s “Why would someone visit here?” but in this case I think there are two more pressing things to answer! The first and please forgive the mauling of the Welsh language is “Ustra-Gun-Lice” the name means ‘Vale of the river Cynlais’ these days the River Tawe, which gives Abertawe, or Swansea its name. That tells you a little of your second question, the town is roughly 16 miles north west of Swansea.

You’re in what used to be Brecknockshire, at a town built around the discovery of iron ore. When you add that to the coal fields of the South Welsh Valleys you get the steel works of Port Talbot. This however, was a day of surprises.

The first surprise was that the game was being played on a Sunday. The impression I got was that Ystragynlais didn’t want to play at the same time as the rugby club next door, even though the two grounds were entirely separate. Then there was the distinct lack of groundhoppers which really did puzzle me, I didn’t recognise anyone back then, although looking at the pictures 14 years’ later I do recognise at least one now! My reasoning was that this fixture ticked so many boxes for a groundhopper, being in a league most would be interested, with a programme too, and with next to no other games in competition. Maybe a few worried about asking directions!!

The ground, Ynyscedwyn Road, was typical of those found at the time in the lower divisions of the South Wales- based Welsh League. The basic ground gradings demanded a railed off pitch, cover for 100 and an enclosed ground, with the cover allowed to be far smaller than you’d expect. Here the issue was enclosing the ground for the club’s second stint (the first was 1970-3) in the Welsh League. The solution was the kind of fences you see at festivals; a temporary solution, and the club’s five season stint in the league ended in 2009. 

Ystradgynlais returned to the Neath League, and had the 2020/21 season in Wales started, would have played in the newly formed West Wales Premier League. That exists at the fourth tier in Wales; the same level as Ystragynlais were were I saw them 14 years ago!

The game saw them up against a club that were near the start of their frankly meteoric rise. Cwmbran Celtic started the millenium playing Gwent County League football, were promoted to the Welsh League in 2005, and these days ply their trade in the second tier Cymru South. You could argue their rise has mirrored Cwmbran Town’s fall. 

Back then we were treated to to a bone fide classic, although I’m tempted to think that the visitors won’t see it that way! But as a neutral watching a side recover from being three-nil down after 32 minutes is special. But I’ll never quite understand why so few hoppers bothered?