Saturday 2nd April 2022 ko 14:00
Bridgend & District League Open Cup 2nd Round
TONDU ROBINS 0
LLANHARRY 6 (Peete 3 Doughty 9 T Hamilton 12 Richards 50 Watts 67 Williams 79)
Att 27 at Pandy Park, Aberkenfig
It seems to me that if you want to find an interesting football match, all you really need to do is head to South Wales- there’s no end of them. The previous Saturday on the way back from Denaby Main we’d had a look at my options and this one rather jumped out, not least due to Tondu Robins’ long stint in the Welsh League. In the end it all added up to a lot more than that.
The village lies north of Bridgend, these days bisected from the larger town by the M4. This was very much coal mining country and iron works were added later. These days this part of the world is still a massive hotbed for football, you’ve got the likes of Kenfig Hill, Pencoed Athletic, Llangeinor, and a little further up the valley, the glory that is Garw.
Tondu spent from 1967 to 1996 in the Welsh League, and the stand at Pandy Park is testament to that history. After finishing bottom of Division 3, they dropped into the South Wales Amateur League but folded in 2005 and have spent recent years in the second tier of the Bridgend & District League- a feeder to the South Wales Alliance, the successor to the old Amateur League.
Those with longer memories of the Welsh Hop might remenber Llanharry from their Amateur League days. I remember the emotion of their Falklands Memorial in their village hall, and the look on their player’s faces when they saw the crowd. They looked, said an inward “Oh…” and got stuck in as only the Amateur League could. I’ll always regard Llanharry as where for me my regular trips to watch Valleys football took on a cultural element. This one was no different.
Pandy Park is a typical South Wales multi-sports venue in that football is very much the junior partner to rugby union; the footballers have the longer walk from the changing room block, but equally typically there’s cover if your watching football, but none for the rugby. Of course there was absolutely no need to watch the trains trundling from Bridgend up towards Maesteg…
The fact of the matter was that Llanharry play in the top division on the Bridgend & District League and boy did it show. Tondu were beaten as soundly as the score would suggest, but there was a sting in the tail. It was that a Llanharry substitute was ineligible for the competition, and once the disciplinary committee found out, the tie was treated as a home walkover and Tondu lost away to Penybont Thirds in the Quarter Final.
The irony of seeing a side lose 6-0 but still progressing is a new one for me, even if entirely according to the rules. As much as I did enjoy Tondu’s company I did feel a little sorry for Llanharry, even if, as someone who does sit on a disciplinary committee I’m sure we would have come to a similar conclusion.