Cefn Druids vs Porthmadog, Huws Gray Cymru Alliance, 5/9/15, The Rock, Match 9
Anyone that has never been to Cefn Druid’s home, The Rock, before must be wondering why it is named after a 90’s wrestler. It’s not, it’s named after the giant rock face which dominates the ground, and provides a rather spectacular back drop for a football ground. The ground was built on the site of a former quarry to replace Druids’ former home, Plas Kynaston Lane. The Rock is a good ground for this level, and was certainly one of the better grounds in the Welsh Premier League, when Druids were last in the Welsh Premier League.
Druids find themselves back in the Cymru Alliance following last season’s relegation from the Welsh Premier League, their aim for this season must be promotion, as I can imagine that the chairman, players and fans must want an immediate return. However that won’t be a walk in the park for the Druids, as they are joined in the Cymru Alliance by a number of good teams, such as Prestatyn, Mold Alex and today’s visitors Porthmadog. Druids can lay claim to being the oldest team in Wales, as they were formed in the early 1860s, as Druids FC. Following a merger with Cefn Albion and Druids United in 1992, Cefn Druids were born. Cefn Druids went through a number of sponsored names, such as Flexys Cefn Druids, NEWI Cefn Druids (co-incidentally I attended Glyndwr University which was the rebrand of NEWI, and where my interest in Cefn Druids comes from) and Elements Cefn Druids, however the club are now simply Cefn Druids AFC.
As a child, Porthmadog were a team that caught my eye, seeing as how I was a Championship Manager/ Football Manager addict, and I would frequently start saves in the Welsh Premier League with Aberystwyth, and Porthmadog would always prove to be a bogey team for me. They were founded in 1884, and have a long and varied history in Welsh Football, recently they have had a few money troubles, and have since dropped out of the Welsh Premier League, and have been in the Cymru Alliance since the restructuring of the Welsh Premier League in 2011. This season has seen them start well, with them sitting 3rd in the table before this match, meaning that they would not be easy opposition for Cefn Druids.
Today’s match had been moved forward to a 2pm kick off, for some reason, so I left my house in Rhosddu at around 1.30pm, after a short drive down the A483, I arrived at The Rock at 1.45pm. After being guided in to a parking space, I crossed the car-park towards the turnstiles, but instead of going in, I decided to head into the Club Shop located in the Social Club. The last time I had been here I had seen that they sold match-worn shirts, and being a shirt collector I decided to chance my luck. Unfortunately they had no match worn shirts, but they did have last season’s home shirt, which I bought for £20. It is worth noting that the Club Shop will be moving soon, as they are building a new space for it within the ground.
With my new shirt, I decided to head through the turnstiles and into the ground. I paid £6 at the gate for entry, and separated with another £2 for a programme, which has been a very good read. Once in the ground I headed down to the Main Stand, and took a seat in the back of the stand. This stand provides the only seating in the ground, and it is a good stand, with the only drawback being that there are a few pillars that can obstruct your view. Once the game had kicked off, I decided to head down to the fence which runs along the touchline, and I stood to the left of the Main Stand to watch the first half.
Cefn Druids started the game, the brighter of the two sides, as they were able to find plenty of time and space down the wings, but unfortunately they either couldn’t deliver a good cross into the box, or when they did deliver a good cross, they couldn’t finish their chances.
During a break in play, I decided to have a quick look through the programme, and noticed a familiar name within. Listed as the Cefn Druids’ assistant manager was a certain Darren Moss, and that got me wondering whether the finest right back in Shrewsbury Town’s history was now the assistant manager of Cefn Druids. Unfortunately from where I stood on the touchline I couldn’t see the dugout clearly and I was unable to confirm whether my suspicions were right or not.
In the 28th minute, Druids took the lead through Adam Hesp. The ball was whipped into the box from a free kick on the left wing, and the ball was nodded towards the near post, where Adam Hesp was stood to nod the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net.
Porthmadog got themselves straight back into the game, as they equalised in the 30th minute, as some sloppy defending allowed Cai Jones to skip through the middle and fire the ball past the Druids’ keeper.
The ref had been rather good so far, if not a little whistle happy. He attempted to allow play to flow, and tried to play the advantage instead of stopping play. Also to his credit, he clearly explained decisions to the players.
One thing that was bugging me was the fact that neither side were wearing numbers 1-11, which made it difficult to track substitutions especially when the tannoy packed up in the first half. All I know is that a Porthmadog player went down injured, but I’m not sure who he was, and I’m not sure who replaced him.
Now, as I’ve previously stated the ref was very good at explaining decisions, and I would love to hear his explanation of his penalty decision, as from where I stood it was not a penalty (Sorry Porthmadog fans), the ball went into the box, a Porthmadog player went down, and next thing anyone knew the ref was pointing to the spot. Such was the unexpectedness of the decision, the Porthmadog bench didn’t even react to the “foul”. Josh Davies netted the penalty for Porthmadog, with a lovely finish in the 41st minute.
Half Time: Cefn Druids 1-2 Porthmadog (Hesp 28 – Jones 30, Davies 41)
With the half time whistle I decided to go and get some food from the hatch which serves as the refreshment hut. I was greeted by the friendly members of staff, and soon enough I was walking away with a can of Diet Coke, a cone of chips and a Kit Kat all for the grand price of £3. I wouldn’t normally rave about a portion of chips, but these were amazing, possibly the best chips I’ve had at a football ground!
For the second half I wondered round to behind the dugouts, which are situated opposite the Main Stand, I positioned myself near to the home dugout to confirm whether it was the Darren Moss or not. The teams emerged at 15.08, and the game restarted once everyone was ready. Before the kick off, the members of staff of both sides crossed the pitch, and one man stood out.
Darren “The Finest Right Back Shrewsbury Town Have Ever Had” Moss.
If I wasn’t a 25 year old man, I probably would have screamed. As it was I ignored him, and focussed on the football. Occasionally glancing towards the home dugout, where one of the footballers I had idolised as a kid now stood. He hasn’t lost the passion for the game, and there were a few times I wondered whether he still wished that he was on the pitch.
The ref in a couple of minutes completely undid the good reputation he had built in the first half, as he gave a number of odd decisions against Cefn Druids much to the annoyance of the Cefn Druids bench, who seemed to be on first name basis with the ref.
Druids should have had an equaliser on the 50th minute but the ref ruled that the keeper had been obstructed by the Druids player who had beaten him to the ball, and although many thought there had been no foul committed, the ref had made his decision and although you may disagree with it, you have to accept it.
Shortly after the disallowed goal, the ref decided to allow play to continue despite a handball from one of the Porthmadog attackers, following the attack breaking down, the play was bought back for a Porthmadog free kick, much to the annoyance of the Druids’ players, and the Druids number 10 found himself picking up a yellow card, for what I can only perceive to be due to the way he spoke to the referee.
In the 55th minute Cefn Druids earned a free kick just outside of the area on the left hand side, the Porthmadog number 2 was booked for a poor tackle, and I’ll be honest I thought he had been booked for a dive. However the referee turned the situation into a comedy, as his odd hand signals soon had me chuckling. The resulting free kick was wasted however.
Druids pulled themselves back into the game in the 60th minute as Mike Pritchard controlled a cross from the right wing, and rifled the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net.
The referee was beginning to redeem himself following his poor start to the second half, and he was beginning to get control of the game again.
Luckily the tannoy was working again, and this time I was able to take a record of the Porthmadog sub, as their number 9 came off to be replaced by the number 16 in the 67th minute.
Porthmadog pulled themselves back into the lead in the 70th minute, with a controversial goal. In the build-up to the goal, there was a clear handball, which the linesman missed, somehow. From there the ball worked its way into the box, and it was flicked over to Iola Hughes who hammered the ball passed the keeper. The Cefn Druids’ players, bench and fans all protested that the goal shouldn’t have stood, and for a moment I allowed myself to be a fan, and I have to admit that I shouted at the linesman. But from a neutral point of view, Hughes shouldn’t have been allowed to find the space in the box to take the shot, the Druids’ defence should have done better, and they were punished, both by Porthmadog and by the officials.
Druids made two changes, with their number 12 replacing number 11 in the 80th minute, and their number 17 replacing number 19 in the 82nd minute.
Despite the addition of fresh legs, the Druids were unable to find a way back into the game, and too much abuse from the home fans, the ref blew his whistle to signal the end of the game
Full Time: Cefn Druids 2-3 Porthmadog (Hesp 28, Pritchard 60 – Jones 30, Davies 41, Hughes 70)
Leaving the ground, it was clear to see how annoyed the Cefn Druids’ fans were with the referee, as a couple of the people I passed were pondering how the referee could have made such poor decisions. Near to the changing rooms had gathered a number of fans, and one man could be heard telling the ref “You’re a disgrace to the league”, along with other insights. The ref wasn’t quiet as he left the pitch, and he did respond to the fans telling them that whatever they said would be a mark against their team.
It was a shame that the game would be spoiled by the referee, who in my eyes did have a poor game. The linesmen were fine, despite the one missing the handball, and they seemed to be slightly embarrassed by the ref.
But, I do have to say this, without the people who officiate games up and down the country week in, week out, we wouldn’t have the sport that we know and love, and even when these people, who we must remember are human, have poor games, no-one has the right to try and intimidate them, as one of the Cefn Druid fans did, as he loudly told the ref that “I’ll see you in the bar!”. There can be no room for this in the modern game. One fan does not represent a club, and I’ve got to wonder whether this fan was also having a bad day. Remember, passion is one thing, pointless threats are another.
Despite this, I had a good day, this was a good match between two good sides, and I expect them to both be near the top of the table come the end of the season. The Porthmadog players, coaches and fans were a credit to their club, as they conducted themselves well. Porthmadog played good football, and I honestly would like to visit Porthmadog this season, to see if I am right in thinking that I would get a warm welcome. Plus I got to see Darren Moss, which was a massive bonus.
Hat tricks seen so far: 2
Next week’s plan: Lex Glyndwr vs Ruthin Town, The FAW Welsh Cup Qualifying Round 2, 12/9/15