Sunday 21st November 2021 ko 11:00
Bridgend & District Sunday League
LITCHARD PARK 1 (Randall 41)
GARTH VADER 1 (Horrigan 74)
Roberts sent off FT (Foul & Abusive)
Att 5 at Pitch 4, Newbridge Fields, Bridgend.
I still have a theory that everyone who follows a big club ought to go and watch a game on a park pitch once in a while. I find it oddly cathartic to breathe old Sunday morning air, to feel the grass give beneath my feet and even to watch the leaves fall like oversized rain drops from autumnal trees. So when my wife Robyn wanted to be in Bristol to see her former workmates on a Sunday morning I knew immediately what I wanted to do.
GroundhopUK’s relationship with Garth Vader goes back 4-and-a-half years when they helped us out on a troubled, and ultimately short-lived Carmarthenshire League Hop. We visited them at the former Caerau Link Ground, on Metcalfe Street and ever since we’ve tried to help each other out. Yes those are GroundhopUK shirts they’re wearing, and every time I see their metal badge on my board, I can’t help but smile.
The trouble is that Covid has hit South Wales hard, perhaps harder than anywhere else in the UK. I’ve watched in horror as one official of a South Wales League was laid low by the virus for 2 months and a week or two ago we lost Steve Pitt, our coach driver for the last 2 Welsh Hops. Make no mistake, its personal now.
The knock-on effect has been devastating to grassroots football in Wales. Some clubs hadn’t played for over a year, and the Bridgend & District League has gone from 3 divisions to just 16 teams. That wasn’t the end of it either, with Litchard Park being used as a Covid testing station, the hosts are having to base themselves now at Newbridge Fields. That meant 8 teams using 4 pitches, and there are only 6 changing rooms in the the extremely tired pavilion, and few opportunities to park. I knew I was heading to the right place for two reasons, firstly Rich at Vader gave me excellent directions, and the steady stream of players, already in kit walking down Boham Avenue!
But once there it was lovely place to watch a game with the River Ogmore behind me, whose flow was occasionally supplemented by the odd player who couldn’t be bothered to go back to the pavilion. It was a good game to watch despite Vader only being able to muster 10 players, and it is to their credit that they managed to come from behind to get a point. That point could have been 3 too, with the Litchard Park goalkeeper being lost to injury at the death. His replacement couldn’t get his hands into the gloves, so played a few minutes bare-handed.
There didn’t seem to be much in the way of stoppage time given what had happened, but then there often isn’t in Sunday League. That point cost Steffan Roberts who saw red after the final whistle, both literally and figuratively for making his point rather too forcefully to the referee.
But that was all part of the soap opera that is football at all levels, but the as I headed back to Bristol, and eventually to Oxford I did so with a smile. Its always good to spend time with friends.