Change of Plan

Colwyn Bay vs Darlington 1883, Evo-Stik Premier Division, 29/8/15, Llanelian Road, Match 8

The original plan for this post had been for me to attend the Bangor City vs Port Talbot match, however various misfortunes ended this plan, and instead took me to Llanelian Road. I left Wrexham about around 12.30pm, giving myself plenty of time to get to Bangor, but on pulling on to the A55 just before Northop Hall, I found myself sat in traffic. Not to worry though, as the traffic soon cleared, but the A55 was still busy and making any kind of progression was difficult, as it was hard to build up speed given the amount of cars around.

This led me to get to Bangor at around 2pm, I pulled into an Asda car-park, which turned out to be the Asda which had been built on top of the old Farrar Road ground. I quickly searched for the Bangor ground on my sat-nav, and followed its instructions. Pulling into the Nantporth Stadium, I tried to find a car-parking space, but was thwarted by other cars which in all fairness had been parked badly. So, leaving the stadium, I began to search for alternate parking, but was unable to, which is probably down to me losing my temper a little bit. With the time ticking past 2.30, and therefore kick off, I decided to head to my back up plan.

I pulled up outside Llanelian Road at 2.59pm, and parked my car just up the street, I half jogged, half ran to the ground, and got through the turnstile just as the game kicked off. I paid £10 to get in, and then £3 for a programme. Entering the ground I was in a bad mood, and was looking for little things to pick at, but even though I paid £3 for a programme, which at this level is a bit pricey, I couldn’t find anything to complain about, and instead I found a welcoming, friendly club, and my bad mood soon lifted.

Llanelian Road, is a picturesque ground. Which is putting it lightly, the area the ground is in is bloody gorgeous, with green hills around it, and a pleasant rural feel. The ground itself is your typical non-league ground, with a main stand running down one touchline, and the rest as either hard-standing or terracing. As you enter the ground through the turnstile, you can either head right to the Main Stand, or you can do as I did, and head left towards where the dugouts are situated on the opposite touchline to the Main Stand. Behind the goal that the turnstiles are on, is the Social Club, Refreshment Hut and Changing rooms. The Darlington fans had taken up residence behind this goal, as the Darlington attack was heading this way. I decided to follow the Colwyn Bay attack, and took a space towards the corner flag at the far end of the ground on the terracing. Behind the goal, that I was closest to, is a small terrace, which after further inspection actually has a row of benches at the back.

I’ve always been able to group Football teams into one of four categories, there are the teams I dislike, e.g. Wrexham (I’m a Shrewsbury Town fan.), there are teams that I don’t really have an opinion on, e.g. Bristol City, there are teams I have a soft spot for, e.g. West Ham, and there are the teams that I love, e.g. Shrewsbury Town. Darlington fall into the category of teams that I have a soft spot for. I was at one of the last games that Darlington Football Club played, at Hayes & Yeading, whilst they were groundsharing at Woking, and I’d taken an interest in what was happening at Darlington FC. I’d only been to the Darlington Arena once, as a teen, but it was clear to see that it was an albatross around their neck, and it was a shame to see them go bust, so when the fans announced that they would reform as Darlington 1883, I decided to keep an eye out for their results, and I’ve been pleased to see them make their ascent through the leagues.

Both sides had good chances within the first twenty minutes, with Colwyn Bay being guilty of wasting a number of good chances, with the ballboys getting a good workout behind the goal, as a number of the Colwyn Bay shots were high, wide and not very pretty, and to be fair Colwyn probably could have had two goals within the first twenty minutes. That’s not to say that Darlington were sitting back and defending, as they got forward and looked dangerous on the attack.

It was Darlington who opened the scoring in the 23rd minute as the ball was whipped into the box, from a cross from the right wing, Kevin Burgess rose the highest and nodded the ball into the back of the net, to the delight of the two Darlington fans stood behind me.

In the 34rd minute, Colwyn Bay had a throw in, in an attacking position on their left wing, however they wasted the possession, and the ball fell to the feet of Thomas Portas, who sprinted down the Darlington right wing, and crossed the ball in for Alan White to nod past the Colwyn Bay keeper. If I was the Colwyn Bay manager, I would have been furious that my side had conceded possession the way they did.

Despite being two goals down, the Colwyn Bay players didn’t let their heads drop, and they continued to press forward, but time and time again they were guilty of wasting chances.

Following a heavy collision with a Colwyn Bay player, the Darlington keeper, Peter Jameson went down with what looked to be a bloody nose, strangely it was the Colwyn Bay physio who went on to treat the keeper, with it turning out that Darlington hadn’t bought their own physio, which I found to be odd, as I was under the impression that it was necessary to have a physio on both benches. To her credit, the Colwyn Bay physio treated the keeper, and got him back on his feet, although I’m guessing it must have been tempting to recommend that he was substituted.

Darlington made it 3-0 in the 45th minute as once again Alan White nodded the ball home following a good cross from the left wing. The Colwyn Bay defence seemed to be struggling with balls into the box, and Darlington were capitalising on this.

Half Time: Colwyn Bay 0-3 Darlington 1883 (Burgess 23, White 34 & 45)

With the half time whistle I decided to walk around the ground to take some pictures, and headed round to the North Terrace, and continued from there. The Main Stand is impressive from up close, and the only drawback is a floodlight pylon about halfway down the touchline which obstructs the view from the stand. Near the turnstiles is the Club Shop, which even though it is only small, holds a lot of quality merchandise, and after having a look around I emerged £12 lighter, and the proud owner of a Colwyn Bay scarf (£7), and a new book (£5) “Get Those Sheep Off the Pitch”, by Phil Staley, which has been an interesting read so far.

I had noticed people with plastic glasses of beer stood by the Social Club, but I decided to resist this, and headed to the Refreshment Hut, where I was disappointed to find that they had run out of chips. I settled on a Kit Kat instead and headed back round to the terrace, from where I had watched the first half, this time I decided to stand nearer to the Social Club, as I had a feeling that that was where the action would be.

The temptation to have a beer proved to be too much, and I headed round to the Social Club, where I parted with £2.90 for a pint of Carling. Pint in hand I headed back to where I had decided to stand, and waited for the game to restart.

At the break Colwyn Bay had made their three changes with Valter Fernandez, Archie Love and Zac Corbett coming on for Carl Rodgers, Shaun Dowling and Mike Lea, (I believe).

On the 55th minute Valter Fernandez scored one of the flukiest goals that I’ve ever seen, as he hit a cross from the left wing, which looped over the Darlington keeper’s head, and into the net. In all honesty the Darlington keeper should have got a hand to the ball, but he somehow misjudged the flight of the ball and was punished.

Darlington made their first change in the 56th minute as Leon Scott replaced Anthony Bell.

It would be fair to say that the ref hadn’t had the best of starts to the half, as he made a number of odd calls, and managed to annoy both sets of fans, which is quite an achievement. He was also frustrating both sets of players, as he seemingly missed obvious shoves and fouls. Annoyingly, the ref had actually had a good first half, and was now letting himself down. His linesman, on the touchline in front of me, was also copping a bit of stick from the players, but that was mostly asking him to have a word with the ref.

Darlington made a second sub on the 60th minute with Davis Dowson replacing Nathan Cartman.

Dowson made an almost immediate impact on the game, as in the 69th minute, he picked the ball up on the left wing, cut inside, and slotted the ball past the keeper, beating him at his near post.

In the 72nd minute Darlington made their final sub, with Robert Youhill replacing Stephen Thompson.

Colwyn Bay pulled a goal back in the 78th minute, as Chris Sharp reacted quickest to the ball, as it rebounded off of the keeper, with the ball in the net, the Darlington players began to complain to the linesman that Sharp had been offside, but if they had reacted quicker then they wouldn’t have had anything to moan about. Sharp was onside in my opinion.

The game had begun to die down, with Colwyn trying to get back into the game, which seemed to be a case of too little, too late, and Darlington were happy to see the game out. Looking over at the small stand by the Social Club, I spotted an interesting spectator. A dog. That’s right, I had spotted my first Non-League Dog, however this dog seemed to be engrossed in the football, and I didn’t want to disturb him by asking for a photo, so I had to make do with a photo from afar.

Full Time: Colwyn Bay 2-4 Darlington 1883 (Fernandez 55, Sharp 78 – Burgess 23, White 34 & 45, Dowson 69)

As soon as the final whistle blew, I headed towards the exit, but found my route blocked by the gates on the tunnel, and I waited patiently for the players to leave the pitch. As the ref left the pitch he was greeted with a question from a Colwyn fan, “Ref, we don’t have you on Monday do we?” Which I think sums up the ref’s performance. He was good in the first, but poor in the second, his linemen had good games though.

Leaving the ground I headed back down to my car, and drove down to the A55 North Wales Expressway. Now if there was a road in the world that I would recommend to others, it would be the A55 North Wales Expressway, the scenery around it is absolutely gorgeous, driving to Bangor and back would have been a lot worse if it hadn’t have been for this road.

Back at home, I began to read the book I had picked up, and found myself laughing at the stories inside within the first 20 pages, with the book featuring Phil Staley, a manager who has done the rounds in the English and Welsh non-league scene. If you have a chance to read this book, then make sure you do.

Attendance: 386

Hat tricks seen so far: 2

Book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Get-Those-Sheep-Off-Pitch/dp/0954309200

Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOR3OIdfrIw&feature=youtu.be

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Unused turnstiles
Unused turnstiles

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Every coffee is "the real spirit of coffee" nowadays.
Every coffee is “the real spirit of coffee” nowadays.

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Pint
Pint

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DOG!
DOG!

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Linesman
Linesman

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Programme and scarf
Programme and scarf
Book
Book
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