Friday, 25 September 2009

1st Welsh

Wednesday 23rd September 2009
Welsh League Division 2
Parc Emlyn

One thing I don’t normally do is take a holiday during the football season mainly due to give my wife a break from me talking about the game, but a four night break in Cardiganshire and more specifically the village of Oakford sees me able to take up this rare opportunity. I have never been to a game in Wales before and to be honest when I did go it would have been a team that represents one of the border towns, Welshpool being a good example. Oakford is small village near to Aberaeron and New Quay and is around a thirty minute drive north of Newcastle Emlyn. Sometimes you get lucky regarding finding a fixture and tonight’s game is no exception as it is the only midweek fixture in the area. This will be the first fixture on the British mainland outside of England that I will have been to, though I have attended four fixtures in the past while on holiday in Belgium, Portugal, Slovenia and Italy. The last one was in June 2007 when I took in Rimini’s final game of the season at home to Mantova in the Italy’s Serie B. The other clubs to join my illustrious list are Racing Club Mechelen, Uniao Madeira and NK Bled.

Newcastle Emlyn play in the third tier of Welsh football in the Welsh League Division 2, a league that covers south Wales and is a feeder league (along with the north and mid-Wales based Cymru Alliance) to the Welsh Premier League. They joined the third division of the league in 2000 from the Cardiganshire League and spent eight years in the lower division, before a runners-up spot in the 2007/08 season secured promotion.

The town itself according to as tourist brochure is a lively, picturesque, friendly and very Welsh market town, nestling in the Teifi Valley. The river runs around three sides of the historic castle which was built on the site of an old fortress. It divides Newcastle Emlyn (Carmarthenshire) from Adpar (Ceredigion / Cardiganshire). Other buildings of note include the old market hall with its clock tower and one of the smallest theatres in Britain, a 19th century church, a magistrate’s court which houses the library and several chapels. The town stands on the banks of the River Teifi and claims to be the site of the last dragon which was slain in Wales after it had alighted at the castle breathing fire and smoke.

The ground is situated on New Road in the town, behind a public car park. The car park is a pay and display one, though is free after 6pm. It was £2 for the admission and a further £1 for a forty four page programme which doubled up for the forthcoming Saturday game against Tredegar Town. There is a 100 seated stand on the left hand side of the ground and a small overhang in front of the building that houses the changing rooms and clubhouse. Hot drinks were available from a room between the changing rooms and the bar.

At the start of play Newcastle had only won one of their opening four league games and find themselves in thirteenth place in the eighteen team division. Opponents Ammanford had obtained seven points from five games and occupied seventh place. The game kicked off seven minutes late but it took all of 45 seconds for Newcastle to open the scoring. A free kick was awarded for offside five yards inside their own half, from which the ball was headed across goal and volleyed into the net from their number 8. Ammanford then dominated the half in terms of possession and created the better chances but could not find a way through the home defence, which at times was at sixes and sevens. The game was played at a high pace throughout and did not let up at all during the game. The second half was a more even affair with both sides having chances but it was the visitors who got an equaliser with just four minutes remaining when the ball found ‘a player’ 10 yards out who made no mistake. The referee somehow found around seven or eight minutes of added time in a game that was not particularly dirty or nasty. From the point of view of a neutral spectator I would say both teams would be satisfied with a point and from an enjoyment angle I would rate the game 3* out of five.

And finally...I could not recommend a visit to Newcastle Emlyn highly enough. I was made to feel most welcome from the gateman to the former chairman. Whether it was to do with my middle England accent who knows? Top marks.

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