Lex Glyndwr XI vs Ruthin Town, JD Welsh Cup 2nd Qualifying Road, 12/9/15, Stansty Park, Match 10
I feel that it would be unfair of me to pretend that I had known that the Welsh Cup had started for this season, as I hadn’t been aware of it. I completely missed the 1st qualifying round and after looking at some of the scores from ties in the 1st round I feel like I really dropped the ball. So with a hope that this 2nd Qualifying round would be as good as the first, I headed off to Stansty Park to watch today’s match.
This was to be my first ever Welsh Cup game, and my first ever game at Stansty Park which when I think about it is a shame. A shame that I never came to a match during my time at Uni, or when I moved back to Wrexham. I first moved to Wrexham in 2008 to attend Glyndwr University, and had three years to get to Stansty Park, before I moved back to London in 2011. I then moved back “home” to Wrexham in 2013, and it’s taken me another two years of living in Wrexham to get to Stansty Park, and that is a poor effort from myself.
According to Wikipedia Lex XI were founded in 1975, but according to the club’s website they were formed in 1965. I’m going to believe the club on this one, Wikipedia doesn’t always know best! Lex XI were founded by a group of Solicitors, and anyone with knowledge of Latin will know that Lex is Latin for “Law”, a rather apt name. The club played at a number of venues around Wrexham, before buying Stansty Park off of Wrexham FC, who had been using Stansty Park as a training ground. Due to financial constraints Lex XI have slipped down the leagues, and have ended up selling Stansty Park to Glyndwr University, and the University have also become involved with Lex XI as their full name shows Lex Glyndwr XI. Recently my old university announced a course which would see young footballers who wanted to pursue higher education combine this with football. Some of the players will end up playing for Wrexham FC, and others will get match time at Lex XI. Currently Lex Glyndwr sit in 5th position in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division One.
The current form of Ruthin Town were formed in 1951, however football in Ruthin dates back to the 1880s. Ruthin have never won the Welsh Cup, but finished as runners up in 1880 to the Druids, which was the last final that Ruthin reached. Recently they have been playing in the Welsh National League and must have aspirations to play at a higher standard. Currently they sit in 2nd place in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division.
The Welsh Cup has a rich and varied history with the first winners being Wrexham, who are also the most successful team in the Welsh Cup’s history with 23 wins, with their last final coming in 1995, in a game where they beat Cardiff City, 2-1. The Welsh Cup has seen many English teams winning the trophy, with Shrewsbury Town being the most successful English team to win the trophy, lifting the trophy on 6 occasions, with the last time being in 1985, where they beat Bangor City over two legs, with Salop winning 3-1 in the first leg, and 2-0 in the second. Between 1996 and 2011 only teams playing in the Welsh League system were allowed to play in the competition. In 2011 the rules were relaxed, to include any team playing in Wales, but only Merthyr Town, Newport County and Wrexham accepted the invitation. In 2012, UEFA ruled that teams playing in the English Leagues could only qualify for European competitions through English competitions, such as the FA Cup, Premier League or League Cup, and subsequently the cup began to only admit teams playing in the Welsh League system again.
I could have walked to this match, seeing as how I live in Rhosddu, and in close vicinity of Stansty Park, the walk would have taken me 30 minutes according to Google maps, but would see me crossing a number of busy roads, and seeing as how it was a Saturday and these roads would be busier, seeing as how they are close to B&Q, and the Plas Coch Retail Park, I decided that it would be easier to drive.
I pulled up into the parking spaces by the 2nd pitch, and walked towards the main pitch, and was pleasantly surprised to find that there was to be no admission price for this game, and that I would be watching a game of football for free (Unless I did walk past whoever was supposed to be taking money, if that is the case please let me know!), however I was disappointed to find that there would be no programme for this match, but these things even themselves out.
Spotting the refreshment hut, I decided to put a bit of money into Lex’s coffers, and purchased a 70p can of Diet Coke, from Maggie’s Kitchen. They don’t call me the last of the big spenders for nothing!
The two teams soon emerged, and Lex walked out in yellow shirts (More amberish), black shorts and socks. Ruthin were wearing all blue, with a smart kit supplied by Adidas. However the Ruthin keeper had also walked out wearing a yellow shirt, and the ref ordered that the keeper change, despite the two shades of yellow not being at all similar. Luckily the Ruthin bench had packed a spare shirt, and the keeper changed into a green shirt.
For the first time in my football-watching life, there was only to be a referee, and no linesmen. Ruthin and Lex provided a member of their bench to run the line, but these volunteers both stood in the same half of the pitch, and the referee was pretty much on his own.
The first half wasn’t too exciting an affair, and I was able to complete a quick head count, and I estimated that there were 21 people in the ground, not including the players, ref or those on the Home or Away bench.
The Lex central defenders were a pair of characters, which is putting it in nice terms. The number 5 wouldn’t shut up, as he berated and encouraged his team, attempted to put the opposition off and criticize the ref. His defensive partner, the number 6, just seemed to be a bit mental, but more on him later.
About 25 minutes in (I say about, remember that the game kicked off late due to the kit clash, it kicked off around 14:35), Lex XI conceded a free kick on the right hand side of their area, in a prime area for a good free kick. This angered the Lex number 6, who lost his head a little, and there was a bit of handbags between the two sides. But what happened next still confuses me. I’d noticed that the Lex 6 deserved a talking to, but all of a sudden the Lex number 5 exploded, and the red mist descended upon him. Something, and I’m not sure what, was said to him (I’ve heard that it was something relating to a family tragedy), causing him to go nuts. He went for the Ruthin number 3, and left the referee with no choice but to send him off. Red card received, he wasn’t for leaving the pitch, as he had to be restrained to stop him from getting at the Ruthin number 3, with the Lex number 5 shouting something along the lines of “I’ll wait for you at the end of the game, don’t try and run off.” Finally he was escorted off of the pitch, and the free kick was taken, with the ball skimming the cross bar and going out for a goal kick.
I spent the half stood by the Ruthin bench, and before half time I had the perfect chance to try and impress the Ruthin manager, with my footballing ability. The ball was rolling towards me, at a good pace, and I attempted to trap it with my “stronger” right foot. Just before I could it hit a bobble, and bounced over my leg, leaving me to have to chase it, and throw it back onto the pitch. Audition failed.
The Lex number 5 had now changed, and stood in the doorway to the changing rooms, obviously waiting for the player that he wanted to get his hands on. So the Ruthin bench made the decision not to risk heading into the changing rooms, and one of the Ruthin coaches went back to the changing room to fetch a jug of orange squash, and some cups. When he arrived back at the bench, he said that the Lex 5 had stated that he was going to punch him.
Half Time: Lex Glyndwr 0-0 Ruthin Town (Lex 5 sent off 25m)
The half ended at 15:20, and the Ruthin players and coaches stayed on the pitch, and reminded me of the infamous Hull City team talk, which was brilliantly lampooned by one of my favourite footballers Jimmy Bullard.
Despite being, effectively, on his own the ref had done a good job in the first half, and had made the correct decisions for most of the match, which had been noticed by the Ruthin bench, who remarked that whilst he had missed a couple of decisions, he was obviously hindered by a lack of linesmen, and that they were impressed by him.
The second half kicked off at around 15:35, and the Lex number 6 went back into the ultra-competitive mindset that he had conducted himself with in the first half, basically meaning that he was a gobby, loud bugger, who shouted and appealed for every decision, didn’t go easy in the tackle, and attempted to intimidate the opposition. I’ve got to say that I was glad I wasn’t on the pitch with him!
In the 48th minute, the Ruthin number 9 opened the scoring, as he capitalized on a defensive mix up, and bundled the ball home. The goal had been coming for a while, and I was surprised that it had taken until the 2nd half for Ruthin to score.
Four minutes later, Ruthin made it 2-0, as the Ruthin number 9 doubled his personal tally, with a near carbon copy of the first goal. Again the ball was worked into the box, and again the Lex keeper failed to deal with the threat. Showing pure poacher’s instinct, the Ruthin 9 tapped the ball home.
Lex made their first change in the 57th minute with their number 14 coming on to replace their number 4. The number 4 had had a good game, but with Lex two goals behind, the manager obviously felt that they needed to make a change.
In the 59th minute, Lex pulled a goal back, as the ball was crossed into the box from a corner, the Lex number 6 rose highest and nodded the ball past the Ruthin keeper. His celebration was as intense as I had expected as he loudly declared that Lex were back in the game. Before the restart Ruthin made their only change of the game with their number 11 coming off to be replaced by their number 12.
Lex made their second change in the 71st minute, as they bought on their number 15 for their number 9. The number 9 had had a couple of chances but seemed to be having an off day in front of goal.
From a neutral view the Lex number 6 was providing brilliant entertainment, as he seemed to be a bit of a throwback to the days of Vinnie Jones, Neil “Razor” Ruddock etc. Basically put, he seemed to be a little bit mental, as he charged about the pitch, attempting to get his team back on to even terms.
Lex made their third and final sub in the 76th minute as they took their number 11 off, and bought on the number 16. This seemed to free up the number 6, who now seemed to be here, there and everywhere.
I had a second chance to impress the Ruthin bench, as the ball rolled over to me again. This time I trapped it with my “weaker” left foot, and played a beautiful pass back with my left foot. From a strictly non-biased view, Paul Scholes would have been proud of that pass if he had made it. The Ruthin bench however didn’t seem to notice.
I decided to go and buy another can of Diet Coke bringing my total spend on this match to an extraordinary £1.40. I need to slow down before I bankrupt myself.
My favourite player of the day, the Lex number 6, went up front for the last ten minutes, and despite his best efforts he was unable to find the equalizer, and the match finished with Ruthin emerging victorious.
Full Time: Lex Glyndwr XI 1-2 Ruthin Town (Lex 6 59 – Ruthin 9 48 & 52, Lex 5 sent off 25m)
Now this is where it all got interesting and farcical. Remember the Lex number 5? The one that got sent off, and threatened to wait for the Ruthin player who had, apparently, said something about a relative? Somehow he had made his way to the Lex bench for the second half, and as soon as the final whistle blew, he made his way, unchallenged, to the Ruthin number 3, and resumed where he had left off earlier. He threw a couple of “punches”, before being restrained by two of his teammates, the Lex number 6 being one of them. The Ruthin player, to his credit, walked away to the changing room, as the Lex players restrained their team mate. Once the Ruthin players were in the changing room, the Lex number 5 stood outside, and as I left he was still there waiting.
However, that was an isolated incident in what was a good game, at a good club. I discovered an entertaining character in the Lex number 6, and I discovered two good clubs. Hopefully Ruthin will be drawn at home for the next round, as I would like to pay a visit to their ground, they appear to be a well-run club, and I was impressed by how they conducted themselves. I will certainly be paying a re-visit to Lex, as I was impressed by how friendly the people I encountered were. Stansty Park is a lovely location for football, despite it only having basic facilities, and I look forward to going back. As for the Lex number 5? I hope he came to his senses, and left. Before the incident he appeared to be a good lad, an interesting character, and I can only hope that he hasn’t done anything stupid.
Attendance: 21 (Head count, I’m probably wrong).
Hat-tricks seen so far: 2
Next week’s plan: Connah’s Quay vs Llandudno, Welsh Premier League, 19/9/15
Thanks for reading.