Gap Connah’s Quay Nomads vs Port Talbot Town FC, Dafabet Welsh Premier League, 12/12/15, Deeside Stadium
Most of my Saturday mornings are now spent on Twitter waiting for conformation that the game I intend to watch will be on, and this morning was no different. The usual avalanche of postponements rolled in, and I braced myself for the news that I would have to find a replacement match. I had no back up if this game had been called off, and I breathed a sigh of relief when following a pitch inspection the game was confirmed as on. Again, I have to praise the groundstaff for getting the game on, as although the pitch wasn’t in pristine condition, it was playable and that was something of a minor miracle, given the weather we have had recently.
From my house in Rhosddu, Connah’s Quay’s Deeside Stadium is a half an hour drive, and I set off at 1.15pm, following a trip to Asda for a full tank of petrol, at 99.7p a litre, I arrived at the Deeside Stadium at 2pm. I parked in the car park closest to the turnstile, and as I stepped out of my car I had the entertainment of watching 4 Port Talbot fans struggle to step over a small fence, with one of them taking a tumble. These fans were obviously in good spirits, something which was probably helped by spirits, and they had already begun to sing even before we entered the ground.
Once at the turnstiles I paid £7 for entry, before paying a further £2 for a programme. As soon as I got through the turnstiles I turned right, and headed along the front of the Main Stand, as I passed the refreshment hut, I decided to buy a Kit Kat, and paid 80p for it. I made the decision to sit in the right hand side of the Main Stand, closest to the long jump area. The Deeside Stadium sits next to Coleg Cambria Deeside campus, and is an athletics’ stadium, this means that there is a running track which circles the pitch, meaning that the only stand in the ground is set back from the pitch, despite this the stand is tall enough to mean that the view of the pitch is good. Around the ground there is little else, with the Main Stand providing the only seating in the ground. Whilst there is a mixture of hard standing and grass banking around the ground, this option wasn’t viable given the weather. Opposite the Main Stand are the dugouts, and the TV Gantry. This is a tidy ground, suited to its purpose and I can only regret visiting it in December, as I can imagine that in the summer it is a lovely ground to visit, given the grass banking around the ground. Interestingly, in one corner of the ground there is a “Forest School”, which I feel is a key indicator of a club that is in touch with the local community.
Before the Nomads came into existence there were a couple of prior clubs that represented Connah’s Quay. The first were Connah’s Quay (no surprises there), who were founded in 1890 and this club reached the Welsh Cup finals of 1908 and 1911, but were beaten by Chester and Wrexham respectively, they folder not soon after the 1911 final and were replaced in 1920 by Connah’s Quay & Shotton, who became members of the Welsh National League (North) in 1922. In the 1928 to 1929 season the club won both the Welsh National League (North) and the Welsh Cup, beating Cardiff City 3-0 in the final of the Welsh Cup, notably the Cardiff side contained several players who had beaten Arsenal in the 1927 FA Cup Final. The side folded with debts totaling more than £1,000 six months later, and Connah’s Quay Albion were left to carry the town’s football banner through the Second World War. The present-day club were formed in July 1946 as Connah’s Quay Juniors, and they were the brainchild of former Everton and Wales centre half T.G. Jones, a native of the town. Due to the reputation of the famous international, the Deeside youngsters flocked to the new team, and they quickly became a major force in North Wales youth soccer, winning the Welsh Youth Cup in 1948. In natural progression a senior side was formed and they joined the Flintshire League in 1948. Prior to the 1952 to 1953 season the club’s suffix changed from Juniors to Nomads, and the team ventured into the Welsh League (North). Connah’s Quay Nomads were founder members of the Cymru Alliance in 1990, and then the League of Wales two seasons later. In July 1998 Nomads moved into the newly constructed Deeside Stadium, after playing the previous season’s home matches 25 miles away from home, at Rhyl’s Belle Vue Stadium. Nomads missed the cut off for the Super 12 League (The Welsh Premier League), and began the 2010 to 2011 season in the Cymru Alliance, although they won this league, they were denied promotion to the Welsh Premier League as they failed to gain the necessary domestic license. They then won the league again in the 2011 to 2012 season and this time they secured the domestic license needed to play in the Welsh Premier League, and that is where they have stayed since the 2012 to 2013 season. Connah’s Quay Nomads are now known as Gap Connah’s Quay Nomads, following a takeover by Gap Personnel in 2008.
Port Talbot Town can trace rather tenuous roots back to 1901, where Port Talbot began life as members of the Swansea League, records are sparse and the club are believed to have played in the Swansea Senior League until 1926 when they became founder members of the Port Talbot and District Association Football League. The club are then thought to have competed in the Welsh League Division 2 Western from the 1928 to 1929 season, competing under the name Seaside Athletic. The modern day club were formed shortly after the end of the Second World War as Port Talbot Athletic. Promotion to the top-flight of Welsh Football was gained in 1957 but they were relegated after just one season. They regained promotion as Division 2 West champions in 1962, but were once again relegated after just one season in the top-flight. In 2000 the club were promoted to the League of Wales, and changed their name to Port Talbot Town in 2001. In the 2009 to 2010 season the club finished in 3rd place which saw them qualify for the Europa League, the first appearance in European Competition, however they lost 7-1 on aggregate to Finnish side TPS Turku, after being beaten 4-0 at home, and 3-1 away.
Kanye West isn’t my usual music choice, but I can appreciate that in the past he has had some good songs in the past, with “Gold Digger” being a personal favourite. I’m however not convinced by the choice of his music at a football ground, especially not the explicit version of one of his songs. I’m not sure if it was a genuine oversight, but “Black Skinhead” by Mr. West is not really appropriate, I mean let’s look at the lyrics for the second verse, and as you read these, bear in mind none of the offensive language was bleeped or covered in any way:
“Stop all that c**n s**t
Early morning cartoon s**t
This is that goon shit
F**k up your whole afternoon s**t
I’m aware I’m a wolf
Soon as the moon hit
I’m aware I’m a king
Back out the tomb bitch
Black out the room, bitch
Stop all that c**n s**t
These n****s ain’t doin’ s**t
Them n****s ain’t doin’ s**t
Come on homie what happened
You n****s ain’t breathin’, you gaspin’
These n****s ain’t ready for action
Ready-ready for action”
Not appropriate, considering there were young children in the ground. I’m hoping this was genuinely an error.
The rain was coming down pretty heavily, and there was a strong wind blowing from right to left, which was obviously going to present a problem for whichever team was kicking against it. I had decided to shelter in the right hand side of the stand, and in the left hand side of the stand stood the Port Talbot fans, and the Connah’s Quay fans. They stood together for the game, and generated a good atmosphere, at no point were there any problems between the fans and it was good to see two sets of supporters getting along. The Port Talbot fans and players had faced a near on four hour journey for today’s match, and it was good to see that a good number of Talbot fans had travelled from South Wales.
The music got better closer to kick off, with “Brianstorm” by the Arctic Monkeys being a personal favourite. However it was interesting that the music carried on playing for the first five minutes of the first half, with “Black Skinhead” playing for a second time.
In the Nomads’ line-up there were a number of players that I was interested in seeing play, with former Shrewsbury Town man Kevin McIntyre starting at left back, former Chester players John Danby and Paul Linwood starting at keeper and centre back, respectively, and former Bangor City stalwart Les Davies starting up front, Davies played for Bangor City between 2007 and 2015 and I was surprised to see him leave Bangor. Starring for Port Talbot Town was to be Alan Tate, a former Swansea City player, whilst at Swansea he played 257 times, and spent time on loan at Leeds, Yeovil, Aberdeen, and Crewe, he left Swansea in 2015 and signed for Port Talbot in November 2015.
As I predicted the Port Talbot keeper was struggling to get any distance on his goal kicks, as he attempted to kick against the strong wind. The majority of his kicks stopped short of the halfway line, and Connah’s Quay took full advantage of the wind.
Nomads opened the scoring in the 8th minute, as Les Davies played a great long ball forward, which found Robbie Parry in plenty of space in the Talbot box, Parry had plenty of time to pick his spot, and he slotted it past the keeper, for a goal on his debut.
Nomads were having the better of the first half as they kept Port Talbot penned in their half of the pitch, Nomads should have been two or three goals up in the first 20 minutes, however it was going to take until the 30th minute for Nomads to find a second goal. They were awarded a free kick around 35 yards from goal, and the ball was delivered into the box, it was headed across goal, and Paul Linwood found himself unmarked at the far post, and he nodded the ball home.
The third goal of the game came in the 40th minute, as Nomad’s Les Davies pounced on a poor defensive header, which had come as a result of a goal kick effected by the wind, and he coolly slotted past Conah McFenton in the Port Talbot goal.
Port Talbot had been struggling in the first half, and had had a few players go down injured, they were forced into a change in the 43rd minute as Martin Rose went down hurt, and hobbled off of the pitch to be replaced by Kostya Georgievsky.
Half Time: Gap Connah’s Quay Nomads 3-0 Port Talbot Town (Parry 8, Linwood 30, Davies 40)
A walk around the ground seemed to be near impossible, unless I wanted to walk across wet and muddy grass, and I cut it short to a walk down to behind the left hand goal, from where I took some pictures of the ground. I then wandered back to the refreshment hut, where I paid £3.40 for a Hot Dog and a bottle of Diet Coke. The Hot Dog was outstanding, and certainly worth the money.
I decided to sit in the same place for the second half, and was surprised to spot Andy Preece, the Airbus UK Broughton FC Director of Football, sat in the stand. Preece was sat in the row in front of me, and took the time to speak to the multitude of people that spoke to him. I’m assuming that he was there to scout the Nomads, as Airbus play them on Boxing Day.
Port Talbot Town came out of the blocks quickly at the start of the second half, as they attempted to find a way back into the match, however Danby in the Nomads’ goal proved why he is an annoying keeper to play against, as he kept out everything the Talbot players threw at him.
In the 62nd minute Port Talbot made their second change with Craig Jones coming off to be replaced by Leigh De-Vulgt.
Connah’s Quay won a penalty in the 65th minute, as one of the Port Talbot defenders, it looked like Alan Tate, used their hand to stop a Nomad’s through ball. Callum Morris stepped up to take the penalty, and he calmly slotted it past McFenton to make it 4-0. (Quick side note, I have a video of said penalty on my snapchat, username: dpreece1990)
Following the penalty Connah’s Quay made a change as Robbie Parry came off, following a fantastic debut, to be replaced by Sean Miller.
Port Talbot made their final change in the 69th minute, as Matthew Long came off for James Parry.
In the 73rd minute Nomads made their second change with Ashley Ruane coming on to replace Les Davies.
Sean Miller made it 5-0 in the 82nd minute, as Ashley Ruane beat a number of Port Talbot players, before playing a sublime ball to Miller, who slotted the ball home coolly. Following the goal, Nomads made their final change as Nomads’ captain George Horan came off for Chris Rimmer.
Following two minutes of extra time, the final whistle blew, with Nomads emerging as much deserved winners.
Final Score: Gap Connah’s Quay Nomads 5-0 Port Talbot Town (Parry 8, Linwood 30, Davies 40, Morris 65, Miller 82)
Connah’s Quay deserved the three points from the game, and now they sit in 5th place in the league, with only seventeen points separating them from TNS who sit in top spot. Whilst winning the league may take a miracle, and a catastrophic collapse from TNS, Nomads should be aiming for European Qualification. Defeat for Port Talbot sees them sitting in 10th place, a point above Rhyl, however Port Talbot have a game in hand over Rhyl, and they should be able to put some space between themselves and Rhyl.
The Deeside Stadium is a good stadium, despite its drawbacks as an athletics stadium, I am planning to return in the summer when the weather is better, although this is Wales, and it’ll probably rain during the summer. Connah’s Quay have developed a good squad and the future looks good for them, whether they’ll have enough to topple TNS at the top remains to be seen, and to be fair they would have to play at their best week in week out to do so. Then again it would be a miracle if any side in Wales managed to topple TNS.
Hat-ticks seen so far: 3
Next week’s plan: Southport vs Bromley, National League Premier, 19/12/15 (As long as it is on)
Money spent: £13.20
Thanks for reading!