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Saturday 10th March 2012 ko 1.30pm

Mid Wales League Division 2

ABERAERON 3 (R Jones 20 B Thomas 64og R Davies 85)

MACHYNLLETH 1 (Jarman 60)

Att 224

Entry FREE

Programme £2

Badge £3

It really was a very short drive south from Aberystwyth down the coast to Aberaeron. The pretty fishing town is that way for a reason. There are very strict guidelines on what get built and how it looks. Unusually for a Ceredigion/Cardigan settlement there is a regency feel to the place, due to the work of Shrewsbury architect Edward Haycock. The council keeps a book of pastel colours approved for houses, and the houses have to have sash windows. In typical Regency style the village is built round a square, and in untypical Regency style, the town square is where the football team plays.

This fact is why we were there, as on August Bank Holiday the square is used for the town carnival, and the club are moving off at the end of the season, in favour of a move of a shared pitch with the local rugby club nearer the sea front. That facility was where the players and officials changed before walking through town to the pitch. The Town Square, without meaning to, caused a whole host of problems.

In order to get a visit in we had to schedule the hop a year earlier than we’d planned, and not so early in the year as to risk postponements. We also didn’t want to clash with next week’s Central Midlands League Bonanza, run by our good friend Rob Hornby. Putting our event on a week before was not ideal, but we couldn’t run later, as that would clash with the final arrangements for the Northern Counties East Hop, in a month’s time, over Easter.

On a more local level the ground has one other massive problem, namely that, despite the presence of a quite wonderful old turnstile, the club are not allowed to charge for admission. That inevitably means entry by programme, and under those circumstances a club has to work all the harder to get people to pay. I’m not sure how many two pounds were collected. Again, with no catering facilities, a burger van was parked behind one goal, and the bakery and pub on the square did a roaring trade. I managed to get the line-ups put up on a blackboard, and many locals delayed watching Wales play 6-Nations rugby in favour of more local entertainment. I’ve certainly never seen a ground like it, and suspect I never will again. It was certainly worth the effort getting there.

It was a bruising encounter with a couple of unsavoury off the ball challenges.  After one I commented to a fellow hopper that the perpetrator was lucky to stay on the pitch, I was told by a Machynlleth fan, that it was a “Contact sport!” Well I suppose kicking out at your opponent is contact-of a fashion! Aberaeron had just that little too much for their guests. Ryan Jones’ opener was equalised by Kurt Jarman courtesy of a defensive howler. Parity didn’t last long as a good cross was turned into his own net by Ben Thomas, and Rhydian Davies made things safe with 5 minutes left.

As we waited for Keith and the coach (he had to park some distance away at a local school) I watched as all trace of the big match was quickly dismantled and the locals disappeared into the pub to watch the rugby. I just left wondering how much impact the day made on the town and its football club.

Apart from the first one, and the last eight, all pictures by Craig Dabbs

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