Friday 24th August 2007 ko 18.45
South Wales Amateur League Division One
AFC PORTH 3 (Evans 45 72 Snooks 64)
On any organised groundhop you want reliability. You want the weather to be fine, the clubs to make the best of their opportunity and at the most basic level you want the teams to turn up at the right place at the right time. But once you’ve got the basics down, you look for cooperation. In the widest sense you look that hoppers, clubs and league understand each others’ compromises but you learn to accept that almost never completely happens. So you look to those hoppers, and clubs who “Get” what you trying to achieve, and unquestionably one club that did in spades was AFC Porth.
You know there are hoppers who will never look outside their own needs, and similarly there are clubs who will only play on Saturday afternoons. You accept the reality of it, even you know that the Saturday afternoon slot is the worst, because there are clubs like AFC Porth who’ll help you out.
When the Welsh Hop dealt in the Welsh League the club that always helped out by playing at odd times was AFC Porth. You love clubs like them, and the aim is always to reward them by giving them a lucrative slot when its their time to host. Except with poor Porth, they got relegated! In the end it was fortunate for so many parties that restrictions placed on us by the Welsh League saw GroundhopUK (or The Welsh Groundhop as it was still styled then) speak to one of their feeder leagues- the South Wales Amateur League. It was the start of a wonderful relationship with the league, and arguably the first real beneficiaries of it were AFC Porth!
We caught them during their one season down in the SWAL, and being based in Treforest it was an obvious choice for them to open up the hop. It really wasn’t a long coach journey from our base at the University of Glamorgan to their ground, but it did allow for one memorable moment. Chris Berezai used the time to distribute programme packs, and one hopper found out that one of the party was Emeritus Professor of Mathematics Derek Coupe and asked in jest, “So what are the chances of us getting 5 nil-nil draws in Wales then?” and handed him his programme pack so he had all the relevant statistics.
We reached the ground and as we exited the coach Derek handed back his pack, and casually commented, “Oh roughly 1 in … (I forget)”, to the amazement of all there. Sadly Derek’s no longer with us, but this was one of many Derek moments over the years he spent on the coach with us. Oddly he used to come groundhopping with us because he said it was “Lovely to spend time with people like me,” I took that to mean people who didn’t treat him as an academic, I don’t remember any other professors ever joining us!
I should point out that technically Dinas Park is in Tonypandy rather than Porth itself, but here’s the really important bit, we really couldn’t have opened the year’s Welsh Hop at a better location. The place evokes Welsh Football, The Valleys and the area’s coal mining past. On a warm late summer’s day it was a treat to stretch your legs and take the place in. We were treated to a good game too as Porth had too much for Maesteg-based Caerau, at what was the start of a championship-winning season for them.
Porth played in the Welsh League until it was disbanded at the end of the 2019/20 season. Has this last season taken place, they’d have played in the new Ardal (Regional) South West League, but other than the lack of football this season there is one more sadness.
It involves the stand, which sadly has been replaced by a smaller version in the inside of its predecessor’s footprint. It still does all that AFC Porth need it to but it is a shame nonetheless. But Dinas Park remains a wonderful place to catch a game, whenever we’re allowed to visit! Most will no doubt visit and gaze at a wonderful example of a (former) Welsh League ground. But for me, I’ll always look at AFC Porth as being about the friendly club that really helped when others didn’t. I’ll always be grateful.