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Sunday 26th August 2018 ko 17.00

South Wales Alliance Division Two

LLANGEINOR AFC 4 ( Lock 38 73p Evans 45 Laidler 84)

AFC WATTSTOWN 2 (Fisher 53 Huggins 65)

Att 130

Entry £3

Programme £1

After the games at Vale United and Porthcawl Town we needed the groundhopping equivalent of a hug and a blanket. Whilst the two previous host clubs had been excellent, the weather had left us cold and wet, and with my organiser’s hat on I wondered what we’d find at the last game of the day. 

By and large the organised groundhop doesn’t deal in revisits, the whole point of groundhopping is visiting as many different grounds as possible. It has happened, the Welsh Hop revisited Trefforest and the Peninsula Hop Penzance, and a visit to Llangeinor would be another. I can’t say “We” visited in 2003, I wasn’t there, and GroundhopUK was “The Welsh Groundhop” then.

It’s a growing conundrum for us, at what point does the organiser take the view that a revisit would attract sufficient people that weren’t there first time round to make a revisit a worthwhile exercise for the club? The evidence of this crowd would suggest a “15 year rule” wouldn’t work. 130 is very low, but was this a case of anyone who hadn’t booked a ticket heading for home after the Porthcawl game? Certainly the game attracted next to no locals.

It was disappointing to see this few people, and Chris Berezai and I will have a very long look at how we plan the forthcoming Hellenic Hops which of course we covered in the years preceeding 2011. At the moment the idea is no revisits, but is there a significant desire to look at some of the clubs were visited back in the day? Would we gain more “Younger” hoppers than we’d lose of the “Old Guard?”

But back at Llangeinor I had more pressing things to consider. The welcome had been good, the lad with his can of Strongbow Dark Fruits directing the coaches to the entrance by the old level crossing that served the former Ogmore Valley line. That entrance by the way used to service the long closed public swimming baths behind. The welcome at the gate was as welcome as it was well-organised, but after that it all seemed to fall short.

There was a young man pitchside with a whiteboard. Assuming correctly it was for the lineups I joined the gaggle of hoppers waiting with pens poised. The young man starting writing, then quickly realised his marker didn’t work. He didn’t have a spare, so the information ended up being shared via WhatsApp. In an odd way it summed up our evening.

It was the same story in the clubhouse. A few warm pasties had sold out a clear a hour before kickoff, and not fancying cold sandwiches, I contemplated the Chinese takeaway back at Trefforest. It was a lost opportunity for the club in almost exactly the same way we’d seen at Raunds back in July.

To make things worse just after half time a couple of hoppers who’d opted to stay in the clubhouse spotted the sausages and chips being fried for the players after the game. Why did they not do that before the game as well? With all those cold, tired and hungry hoppers they’d have made a fortune.Perhaps we were asking too much of the club, this was a club newly promoted to the seventh tier of Welsh football after all.

As organiser you look at it, and if you’ve suggested good practice, and if the red lines of a game, a programme and a badge haven’t been crossed then metaphorically you shrug your shoulders and hope for better from the next host. We had, and Llangeinor did serve up an excellent  game as a finale to our day, winning the battle of the promoted clubs deservedly.

I hope Llangeinor gained enough from this to see it was positive experience, even if I suspect that the lion’s share of the revenue came from gate money and advance sales. But as tends to be the case when a host club doesn’t do as well as the others, I learn more from them.

I got back to my room, changed, then met a few others for that Chinese. It really was food for thought.

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