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Saturday 12th September 2015 ko 14.30

Welsh Cup 2nd Qualifying Round

PENRHIWCEIBER CONSTITUTIONAL ATHLETIC 2 (J Evans 18 S Thomas 64) Bennett missed penalty 34

LLANDRINDOD WELLS 4 (A Jones 44 Layton 38 B Jones 54)

Att 23

Entry FREE

Programme £1

You climb to get to Penrhiwceiber, up past Pontypridd then up again through Abercynon. Not for nothing is a nearby village called Mountain Ash! It’s just about superfluous to say that the South Wales Valleys villages were built on coal, with just about every settlement having its pit. Except here the pit was called Penrikyber, a piece of Anglicization which at least give the outsider an idea of how to pronounce the place!

The 3 shaft mine closed in 1985 and the space left now hosts 3 football pitches over 2 levels. As if that isn’t enough Penrhiwceiber Rangers play just below the lower tier in Glasbrook Terrace. The gaggle of hoppers present joked that you could organise a 4-game hop without moving the coach between the first and last games!

And its the organised hop that drew me to the Pentwyn Field, and the 2nd of the 3 railed-off pitches. I like many others cut my teeth in Welsh non-league in GroundhopUK events in Rhondda Cynon Taff. Once I’d left the A470 heading towards Merthyr my journey consisted of passing through villages I’d watched playing in the South Wales Amateur League. I promise you this, we will return one day not least because the Amateur League has now merged with the Senior League to form the South Wales Alliance giving us another two divisions worth of clubs to visit.

Coming from the Senior League Cons’ would be on that list, but they are a little unusual in that they did feature on an Amateur League hop, in August 2005 as the away team losing 2-1 at Rhydyfelen when they were Osborne Athletic. Since those days the team has had a spell down in the Rhondda League, before being promoted back but into the Senior League. When the Osborne Hotel in town closed, the club changed its name and base to the Constitutional Club.

Of course visitors Llandrindod have their own slice of hop history, we visited them in 2010 on the Mid-Wales Hop where they drew 1-1 with Bont. That was in front of a Welsh Hop crowd of 374, which they were rather proud of, until I pointed out that the record has been beaten 4 times since then. More importantly since then they’ve been promoted to the second-tier Cymru Alliance, only dropping back for this season.

With Cons’ playing in the First Division (2nd tier) of the Alliance this looked like a 3 division mis-match, but there seemed to be a sense of unease about the visitors. Perhaps it was the journey down as the most the northerly club in the draw’s southern section, or the lack of appointed linesmen but they started very slowly, and it was of little surprise when the hosts took the lead.

And if Cons had converted even one more of the chances they created, they’d have won this. As it was the turning point was Scott Bennett’s missed penalty, after that the visitors roused themselves and did enough, but no more to win the tie.

It was by any standards a mighty fine afternoon out, but with the added spice that at some point in the future there’ll be whole lot more. Just remind me to warn the Otley Arms in Trefforest!

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