Saturday 20th November 2021 ko 14:00
Gwent Premier League- Division One
P.I.L.C.S. 3 (Bown 28 34 39)
COED EVA ATHLETIC 5 (Perkins 35 55 Bloomer 72 Williams 76 88p)
There was plenty going on before I even crossed the Prince of Wales Bridge. I knew I’d be based in Bristol for the weekend, with my wife Robyn watching Bristol City on the Saturday and seeing her girlie friends on Sunday morning. That gave me an opportunity or two, but we decided to have a Saturday evening family get-together at the ice hockey because the Bristol Pitbulls versus my hometown Oxford City Stars was too good an opportunity to turn down!
But that meant I needed to be be back in Bristol early, so a 2pm kickoff would make my life more straightfoward. I wanted to try out the new Cymru Football App, and South Wales has long been been my go-to place for something evocative. That though did create a problem for me, the timings pointed to either the South Wales Alliance or the Gwent Premier League, both of which have agreements with GroundhopUK to run events for the Welsh Hop. There would be little point in me visiting a club knowing chances are I’d be couriering a coach there in the next year or two. But then I thought of PILCS…
The Pontyfelin Institute for Leisure, Culture and Sport, to unravel their acronym were due to be a visiting club on the last Welsh Hop at Ynysddu Welfare but were unable/unwilling to fulfil the fixture. The hosts were left disappointed, and we ended up watching Ewenny Rangers in the Bridgend & District Sunday League. It is of course all water under the bridge, and I suspect it was all a misunderstanding- that hop was organised in a hurry after all.
The only observation I’d make is that groundhops work on cooperation, host clubs need a visiting club to play at an unusual time to benefit, so unless we see PILCS as an away club on a subsequent event I can’t see us ever giving them the potential for a big pay-day as a host club.
So I headed to Pontypool fully intending to keep a low profile, I see no point in recriminations- what is done is done after all, but I did wondering how someone like me with clipboard one hand and a DSLR camera in the other can possibly be low-profile! The new App I decided might help.
For those not in the know, the Cymru Football App gives details of virtually every game in Wales from the Cymru Premier right down to grassroots. It gives directions, postponements and even real time line-ups and goalscorers- basically each team has someone inputting data in before, during and after the game. Ever been stood behind one goal and a goal is scored at the other and wondered who got the final touch? That App certainly is handy for that!
And the teams certainly gave the App a good workout. I must admit I do have a gigantic soft spot for Coed Eva Athletic– they were wonderful hop hosts back in 2019 and I imagined I’d find myself leaning against the rail quietly hoping for an away win. The problem my narrative was spoiled rather by every single person I encountered from PILCS being lovely- just friendly and welcoming, in fact everything you’d want a local football club to be. It did allow me to take a far more dispassionate view of the game.
The game was a local league classic, and I can count on the fingers on one hand how many times I’ve seen a player score a hat trick and end up on the losing side. I can’t say the right side won, I had it as roughly equal and do wonder what might have happened if hat trick hero Harry Bown had not gone off injured- a victim of a heavy challenge.
But the reason for me being there was PILCS; and yes there a part of me that could have treated this as means of ticking off a club that I couldn’t see the Groundhop visiting. In the end if meant more than that, I gave the club a face and a personality, rather than just a reputation. Maybe GroundhopUK will never come here, as I sit here and type I still can’t see that happening, but never say never!
Dedicated to the memory of Steven Pitt, proud Welshman and driver of the coach on two Welsh Hops and the most recent Scottish Hop who died recently of Covid-19 aged just 39. Rest in peace Steve.