Prestatyn Town vs Porthmadog, Huws Gray Alliance, 27/02/16, Bastion Gardens, Match 30
Today’s match was going to see me visit one of two classic North Welsh seaside resorts, and it was Prestatyn that won in the end, as Rhyl’s match against Haverfordwest didn’t kick off until 5.15pm and that didn’t appeal to me. If the Rhyl vs Haverfordwest game had kicked off at 2.30pm, it would have been a hard choice. I’ve been meaning to visit Prestatyn for a while, and with them playing Porthmadog, I decided that today would be the day that I finally made the trip up to Prestatyn. This would be the third time that I had watched Porthmadog, with my previous times seeing them, being at Cefn Druids and Gresford Athletic.
I decided to leave Wrexham early today, to give myself some time to get to Prestatyn in time, and to give myself some time to explore Prestatyn. I left Wrexham at around 12.30 pm, and pulled into a carpark in Prestatyn at around 1.30pm. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the carpark was a free carpark. However, it soon became clear that I had parked a while away from the ground, and I began to follow signs for the seafront. I could have travelled to Prestatyn by train, and it would have been a good idea as the train station is located near to the ground. Soon enough I spotted a sign for the football ground, and it seemed to me that the ground was nestled behind a residential estate, I given that there was a good amount of time before the match kicked off, I decided to carry on walking towards the seafront, once I walked past the housing, I was amazed to see the ground pop up from nowhere, and I began to wonder whether I could just watch the game from the road, as there was a clear view into the ground. I then had a quick walk across the seafront, but there wasn’t much to ‘sea’, (I’ll be here all week, please tip your waitresses) apart from a wind farm, and I headed back to the ground.
Bastion Gardens was opened in 1969, as Prestatyn moved from their previous ground at the rear of the Central Beach Club. From the turnstiles I emerged behind the goal, at the social club/changing room end, this section of the ground is made up of hard standing, with the changing rooms, social club and refreshment hut at this side of the ground. To the left of this is the Bastion Gardens side, which constitutes a narrow stretch of hard standing which is hemmed in by the rear gardens of the housing behind the ground, on this side of the ground stand the dugouts. Following on from the Bastion Gardens side, behind the other goal, is the Training Ground end, as named due to the training pitch which stands behind this goal, this end again is a strip of hard standing, and it is from behind this goal that it would be possible to watch the game for free from the road behind. On the final side of the ground stands the Martin Walsh Stand, which provides the only cover in the ground, as well as the only seats, this stand is rather narrow, and if you sit in the front row of the seating you will spend a lot of time standing up to allow people to walk past. As a Shrewsbury Town fan, this stand allowed me to take a walk down memory road, as it contains 500 seats from the old Gay Meadow.
Records show that football has been played in Prestatyn since the early 1890s with games being played on an undeveloped field on Marine Road. Prestatyn Town as we now know it only came into being in the 1930s, as they settled on the old Bastion Road ground behind what is now the Central Beach Club, for a time in the late 1940s the club adopted the name Chandypore FC (the original name of the Central Beach Club) when they operated in the Dyserth Area League, but they quickly reverted to Prestatyn Town, a name they have stuck with apart from dabbling with sponsor’s names, for example Prestatyn Town Nova in 1990. In their early days Town were members of either the Dyserth Area League or the Welsh League North, but they became founder members of the Clwyd League for the 1974 to 1975 season, and they enjoyed immediate success as they won the inaugural title, as well as the following season. In the 1992 to 1993 season, after finishing runners-up to St Asaph City, the club decided to take the plunge and re-join the Welsh League North, now known as the Welsh Alliance. Town enjoyed a number of good seasons in the Alliance, until there was an acrimonious split at the club in the 1998 to 1999 season, which led to the formation of Prestatyn Nova, and Town resigned from the Welsh Alliance to re-join the Clwyd League, this “backward step” actually turned out to be a good thing, as the club won the Clwyd League, the Premier Cup and the President’s Cup. In the following season the club rejoined the Welsh Alliance, and following a number of near misses, the club won promotion to the Welsh Premier League in the 2007 to 2008 season as they finished as champions of the Welsh Alliance. In 2013 the club won the Welsh Cup for the first time, as they beat Bangor City 3-1 after extra time, and in July 2013 the club reached the second qualifying round of the Europa League only to lose to Croatian side Rijeka. Prestatyn’s time in the Welsh Premier League came to an end in the 2014 to 2015 season as the club finished in 12th place.
As I’ve mentioned I have seen Porthmadog play twice this season already, but I haven’t really delved into their history as far as I should have, so here goes: Porthmadog were founded in 1884, and in 1900 the club joined the North Wales League, which they won in the 1902 to 1903 season. The 1950s to the 1970s were successful decades for Port, as they won the Welsh Amateur Cup in the 1955 to 1956 season and the 1956 to 2957 season. Following losing their amateur status, the club played against Swansea City in the Welsh Cup, in 1966, and the replay at the Vetch saw Swansea’s largest crowd of the season, 10,941. Porthmadog then went on to win the Welsh League (North) in five of the next nine years. Port were not to win a championship again until the 1989 to 1990 season, when they won the Daily Post Welsh Alliance, this was enough to secure Port’s place as inaugural members of the Cymru Alliance in 1990. In 1992, Port became inaugural members of the League of Wales, although they were to struggle in their first season, until a late surge in the final months helped the club to a ninth place finish. In Port’s fourth season in the League of Wales they almost folded due to financial issues, but £10,000 was raised through the sale of shares, and extra money was raised through friendly matches such as against Blackburn Rovers and a team of stars from S4C. Porthmadog lost their place in the League of Wales in the 1997 to 1998 season, as they finished fourth from bottom, and the club considered taking legal action against the League of Wales as it was alleged that the decision to relegate four clubs was taken during the season and therefore illegal. When Ebbw Vale were banned from the league, Port felt the battle had been won, but they were made to join the Cymru Alliance when the South Wales club appealed against the decision at the very last minute. Port weren’t to stay in the Cymru Alliance for long, as they won the league in the 2002 to 2003 season and took their place in the Welsh Premier League. Port were then to stay in the Welsh Premier League until the 2009 to 2010 season, as the FAW’s decision to restructure the Welsh Premier League for the 2010 to 2011 season, meant that Porthmadog along with six others were relegated to the Cymru Alliance League, where they have stayed ever since.
Once at the ground, I carefully navigated the carpark, and at the turnstiles I paid the £6 entry, and headed into the ground. At the turnstiles there didn’t seem to be any sign of a programme, and I made a mental note to keep an eye out for someone selling them. After spotting an advertising hoarding for Wrexham Lager, I made a beeline for the social club in the hope that they would be serving it. On entering the social club, I was happy to see a Wrexham Lager tap, and I paid £3 for a pint of the lager sold on the Titanic. I’ve seen a number of groundhoppers raving about Wrexham Lager, especially the fantastic LostBoyos blog, and I was intrigued to see what the fuss was about. Wrexham Lager has got to be one of the best lagers I have ever tasted, and if I hadn’t had been driving I would have had more than one pint! If you ever get the chance to have a pint of Wrexham Lager, then I would whole-heartedly encourage you to.
To describe the Prestatyn side as physical would be putting it lightly, but then again they weren’t a dirty side, and the Porthmadog players must have been aware that they were in a battle against this Prestatyn side. Prestatyn had also had the better of the chances in the first half, but the Porthmadog keeper was playing well, and kept the Prestatyn attackers at bay throughout the first half.
In the 43rd minute, Porthmadog found themselves down to ten men, as their number 12, Rob Evans, saw red. A Prestatyn player was clear through on goal, when he was bought down on the edge of the area. The Prestatyn players and fans were convinced that the foul had been committed in the box, and from where I was stood I can’t really be sure, so I’ll have to trust the referee’s decision. At first it looked like the ref had just awarded the free kick, but after a while the ref produced a red card for Rob Evans, as he was adjudged to have been the last man, and therefore had denied a clear scoring chance. Now here’s where it gets interesting, as the Prestatyn Town Supporters’ twitter stated that they felt the wrong man had been dismissed. I can’t be sure if the wrong man was dismissed, and I’ve got to trust the ref’s decision. From the resulting free kick, Prestatyn wasted a golden chance, and Porthmadog went into the break a man down, but on level terms.
Half Time: Prestatyn Town 0-0 Porthmadog (Evans red card 43)
At half time I decided to head over to the refreshment hut to grab some food, and hopefully spot someone selling programmes. I left the refreshment hut with Chips & Cheese and a can of Diet Coke which I paid £2.80 for but without a programme. The chips & cheese was good, and definitely hit the spot.
It was always going to be interesting to see how both sides reacted to the sending off, with Porthmadog now playing a 441, and Prestatyn came out of the break on the attack looking to take advantage of their extra man.
Porthmadog made the first change of the game in the 53rd minute, with their number 9 coming off to make way for their number 14, Stuart Rodgers.
Prestatyn made their first change in the 61st minute as their number 6, Alec Williams, made way for their number 15, Jordan Davies.
Inevitably Prestatyn took the lead in the 69th minute, as their number 9, Jack Kenny skipped into the box from the right hand side, and with a clever couple of touches he took the ball past the Porthmadog keeper, and, despite the pressure of a couple of Porthmadog defenders, he slotted the ball into the back of the net.
Far from letting the Prestatyn goal knock them out of the game, Porthmadog came back quickly and in the 75th minute they scored an equalizer, as their number 11, Jamie McDaid, controlled the ball in the box well, and fired a low shot past the Prestatyn keeper.
Prestatyn made their second change in the 76th minute, as number 8, Connor Shackleton, was replaced by number 14, Lee Beattie.
The third and final Prestatyn change came in the 82nd minute, as their number 16, Toby Sylvester came on to replace the number 10 John Fisher-Cooke.
Prestatyn were pushing further and further forward looking for a winner, and it was to prove their downfall in the 88th minute, as they left far too much space at the back, the ball came down the right wing, and the Porthmadog number 7, Cai Jones, found himself onside (in my opinion) and in acres of space, the ball was played over to him, and he controlled it well, took it into the box and fired past the keeper, to put ten-man Porthmadog into the lead.
Cai Jones was replaced in the 90th minute, as he came off to be replaced by the Porthmadog number 15, Gywdion Ifan.
Final Score: Prestatyn Town 1-2 Porthmadog (Kenny 69 – McDaid 75, Jones 88, Evans red card 43)
Victory for Porthmadog sees them climb from 10th to 9th place, but they are the team who have played the most games in the league, 23, meaning that a number of teams below them have games in hand, however only Holyhead Hotspur in 10th can overtake Porthmadog, and they would only have to win one of their games in hand to go on equal points with Port, but ahead on goal difference. Port are currently 14 points off of the top of the table, and it is unlikely that they will manage to catch the league leaders, so a mid-table finish is probably going to be the best outcome for Port. This victory should be used by Porthmadog as a sign of what they can produce when they play as well as they played today, they responded brilliantly to going a man down, and should be proud of the way they played.
Prestatyn now sit in 7th place in the league on 35 points, with 22 games played. Flint in 8th could leapfrog Prestatyn, as they have two games in hand and are only two points behind them. Looking up the table, it is again unlikely that Prestatyn will catch the teams at the top, which must be a disappointment for Prestatyn as they must have been wanting to bounce back first time, but that seems unlikely now.
Bastion Gardens is a great little ground in a fantastic location, and I hope to have the chance to re-visit the place in the warmer months, as it would be great to dedicate a whole day to the town, as it looks like a lovely place, and would probably be even better when the sun is out. On a personal note it was great to see some of the seats from the Gay Meadow still in use, and I was tempted to try and smuggle one of them out of the ground.
At this stage I must say thank you to the Porthmadog fan who kindly allowed me to take a photo of his improvised team sheet, which was very kind of him. If anyone has an official team sheet they could send me a picture of, it would be greatly appreciated. It was disappointing not to be able to find a programme, and if there are any spares I would be willing to buy a copy.
From Bastion Gardens I walked back to my car, a walk which took around 15 minutes, part of me regrets choosing the first carpark I found as I could have parked up across the road but que sera.
Hat-tricks seen so far: 3
Money spent: £11.80
Next game: AFC Telford vs Chorley, 5/3/16, Vanarama National League North
Prestatyn Town’s twitter: https://twitter.com/ptfcseasiders
Porthmadog’s twitter: https://twitter.com/CPDPorthmadogFC
For pictures of today’s adventures follow this link: My Flickr
Thanks for reading!