Back in the D.D.R. (1.FC Magdeburg)

1.FC Magdeburg were renowned throughout Europe in the 1970’s most notably in the 1973/74 when they defeated AC Milan to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup in the De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam. On their way to the final the then East Germans bested the likes of NAC Breda, Banik Ostrava, Beore Stara Zagora and Sporting Lisbon. Given their reputation as European regulars it is something of a surprise to find the club were only formed in 1965 and thus celebrate their 50th year next season.

The story of football in this great German city, synonymous with mechanical engineering, is a convoluted one of failed clubs and multiple mergers. The city’s oldest clubs, and indeed among the oldest in Germany, were SV Victoria 96 Magdeburg formed in June 1896 and a year later two clubs, FuCC Regatta Magdeburg and FC Gut Stoss Magdeburg merged to form Magdeburger Fussball und Cricket Club Viktoria 1897. In 1899 the two clubs were joined on the scene by Magdeburger SC Prussia.

SV Victoria 96 took the ascendancy in the city and were playing in the Mittel-Deutsche Meisterschaft when in 1933 the Nazis disbanded the existing Bezirkligas and Oberligas to form a 16 division Gauliga based on the new districts they had drawn up in an attempt to exert control over the provinces. The best teams from the old Prussian provinces of Thuringia, Anhalt and Saxony were placed in Gauliga Mitte. After the War the Gauliga system had been abandoned and Magdeburg found itself in the Soviet occupied zone and would now play in the newly formed DDR Oberliga as part of East Germany. The two smaller clubs SC Prussia and Cricket Victoria 97 merged as SG Sudenburg in 1945 and soon after merged in turn with SG Lemsdorf to form BSG Eintracht Sudenburg. The latest name change lasted until 1950 when yet another merger occurred this time with SAG Krupp Gruson. A year later another new name was adopted which was BSG Stahl Magdeburg. Twelve months later they became BSG Motor Mitte Magdeburg.

The original major stadium in Magdeburg was that of SV Victoria 96 Magdeburg and was called the Sportplatz am Gübser Damm, although it was also known as Viktoriaplatz. During the 1944 much of the city, including the entire stadium was destroyed by Allied bombing. Some 16, 000 inhabitants would lose their lives. In more modern and happier times, German reunification saw Magdeburg become the capital city of the Saxony-Anhalt region. After the loss of their stadium the municipality would build a new venue on the same site in 1954 called the Ernst-Grubbe-Stadion. This stadium would be home to 1.FC Magdeburg for 40 years until 2005 and would witness some glorious nights during its relatively short life.

Even with the multiple mergers the club had still struggled to perform at a decent level and in 1957 the Motor Mitte section was merged with SC Aufbau Magdeburg in an attempt to strengthen the football section. SC Aufbau won the FDGB Pokal in 1964 against SC Leipzig and became the first club from Magdeburg to play in Europe. They were drawn against Galatasaray and when both legs ended 1-1 the clubs had to replay in Vienna. This match also ended 1-1 and the match was decided on a coin toss. After the first toss saw the coin landed upright in thick mud, the second fell in favour of the Turkish club. In December 1965 the decision was made to remove the football section of SC Aufbau into a club of its own. The new club was to be called 1.FC Magdeburg. It was the first such politically driven sports club break up with the desire to form strong football only entities.

The 1970’s saw the DDR-Oberliga dominated by the new 1.FC Magdeburg club and their big rivals, SG Dynamo Dresden. Magdeburg would win three championships and a further six FDGB Pokals. Four of Magdeburg’s “golden era” players represented the DDR in the 1974 World Cup. Magdeburg’s 1974 European Cup Winners Cup triumph meant the East Germans would contest the European Super Cup, against that year’s European Cup winners. The Super Cup game against Bayern Munich was never played.

Upon the reunification of Germany 1.FC Magdeburg had hoped to be elected at least the Bundesliga II but they failed to win any of their play off games. The club found itself in the third tier, then called the Oberliga Nordost/Staffel Mitte. By the turn of the 21st century though the club were in deep financial trouble and had to raise five million marks to survive. A million was donated within days and the remainder loaned by banks. It was to prove a temporary reprieve as in 2002 the club went into liquidation. With liquidation came automated relegation the fourth tier. The board restructured the club and the city promised a new arena for the club. The Ernst-Grubbe-Stadion was demolished and the club were temporarily relocated to the Heinrich Germer Stadium. Originally built in 1920 the Germer had been home to the numerous pre 1.FC merged clubs. The new stadium would hold 27,250 people and took just over a year to build, the first game saw 1.FC Magdeburg draw 0-0 with Eintracht Braunschweig in front of 13,279 spectators. The nearby GETEC Arena is home to the city’s very successful handball team SC Magdeburg Gladiators.

Today’s game sees a revitalised 1.FC second in the table and in hot pursuit of leaders TSG Neustrelitz. Meanwhile their guests FSV Optik Rathenow bring only 24 fans with them despite the modest 45 mile journey. A glance at the league standings provides a modicum of mitigation, Rathenow are bottom with just 13 points and look set for the drop to the fifth tier along with another great name from the DDR period, Lokomotive Leipzig.

The MDCC Arena is a relatively bland construction although the murals depicting Magdeburg’s rich European history are a welcome sight. Pleasingly there is much fan activity. There are two club shops, the expected modern one sits alongside one manned by older fans and selling relics exclusively from the DDR period. It is noticeable that fewer people here speak English compared to Berlin just 90 miles to the East. The locals seem almost wistful for the old East German days. There are Ultras selling stickers and fanzines and once in the Arena fan friendships are evident, notably flags pairing the hosts with Millwall.

The game itself is frighteningly one sided, the hosts rattle in six goals with the guests offering hardly any resistant. In truth it could easily have been double figures so beleaguered is the Rathenow team. For Magdeburg, Lars Fuchs particularly catches the eye with a skilfully taken hat-trick. The support from the home fans is superb, signing, bouncing and even simultaneous congas are enormous fun. It seems that for just 90 mins the locals can celebrate their “DDR’dness” at the football. I think that’s really rather special.

 

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Sunday March 23rd 2014 – Regionalliga Nordost

1FC Magdeburg (4) 6 (Beck 6, Fuchs 10,33,45, Lange 65, Nennhuber 68)

FSV Optik Rathenow (0) 0

Attendance: 6,214 (at MDCC Arena)

Magdeburg:

1. Mathias Tischer, 2. Nico Hammann, 3. Christopher Handke, 5. Felix Schiller, 7. Lars Fuchs, 8. Steffan Puttkammer, 11. Christian Beck, 13. Christoph Siefkes, 17. Marius Sowislo, 20. Rene Lange, 21. Tino Schmunck.

Subs: 4. Kevin Nennhuber (for 3, 46 mins), 9. Matthias Steinborn (for 7, 69 mins), 10. Teimo Texeira-Rebelo, 16. Nils Butzen, 18. Florian Beil, 26. Sven-Torge Bremer (for 5, 63 mins), 30. Danilo Dersewki.

Rathenow:

1. Marcel Subke, 2. Mario Delvalle Silva, 3. Marcel Bahr, 4. Leon Hellwig, 9. Sebastian Huke, 10. Hakan Cankaya, 11. Shelby Printemps, 14. Ezgon Ismaili, 16. Jerome Leroy, 19. Majuran Kesavan, 27. Benjamin Wilcke.

Subs: 7. Phillipp Grüneberg (for 11, 58 mins), 13. Pelle Klötzing (for 3, 65 mins), 22. Selvedin Begzadic, 23. Jakob Regulski, 24. Onur Uslucan (for 14, 58 mins), 29. Daniel Ujazdowski.

Yellow card: Hellwig (Rathenow)

Gallery

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Bounce (Lech Poznań)

Lech Poznań were formed in 1922 as KS Lutnia Dębiec and underwent several name changes before settling on the name Lech Poznań in 1957. Lech is a common prefix for many institutions in Poland as a mark of respect to Lech to one of the three founding fathers of the West Slavic states. Lech was the founder of Lechia or modern day Poland. The other founding fathers were his brothers Czech, founder of Czechia which incorporated Bohemia, Silesia and Moravia and Rus who founded Ruthenia which comprised of Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine.

The Lech Poznań club were inextricably linked throughout their history to the Polskie Koleje Państwowe which was the state railway of Poland. Although formal ties ceased in 1994 the club’s traditional nickname of the Kolejorz, or the Railwayman, still remains. Lech have won the Polish championship six times and remain easily the best supported club in the Greater Poland province. The clubs litany of alumni include Miroslaw Okonksi , the star player of a side that won back to back titles in the 1980’s, Maciej Zurawski who found idolatry at Celtic Park and current international icon Robert Lewandowski.

The club have played at the Stadion Miejski (Municipal Stadium) since 1980, although work had begun on the site some twelve years previously. Since its rebuild for Euro 2012 the venue has been known as the INEA Arena. Prior to this the club played at three different grounds. For the first twelve years of their existence Lutnia played on a field owned by the Wicherkiewiczów family. The ground was called the Grzybowa, but really lacked decent facilities. A bigger ground was built in 1934, holding 20,000 the Dębiec Stadium (later renamed the Lech Stadium) became Lech’s spiritual home although between 1956 and 1980 they would play many of their bigger games at the July 22nd Stadium. The home of neighbours Warta Poznań, the July 22nd Stadium was so named after the day commemorating the Polish Communist Manifesto holiday. In 1981 the club’s new ground in Bulgarska Street was opened. The original stadium had three stands in a U shape and had traditional wooden benching. One end was left for a proposed swimming centre but the venue was never built and eventually the ground had a fourth side built. The record attendance of 45,000 was set April 1984 against Widzew Łódź and two years later the Miejski gained its iconic 56 metre tall floodlight pylons. Apart from the installation of plastic seating nothing was done to the ground until 2003 when a modernisation programme began. Then when it was decided that Poland, together with the Ukraine, would co-host Euro 2012, the municipality decided that plans needed to be revised to provide a much bigger facility than anticipated.

The firm of Modern Construction Systems was engaged in 2008 to provide a modern facility housing 45,000 spectators. The design is visually stunning from the outside with the roof having a membrane of silk on top for illumination and to allow sun onto the pitch. The north stand is noticeably smaller than the rest of the stadium and allows ventilation and light for the pitch surface. The stadium is architecturally more audacious than any in the UK and a home to which the Lech fans have taken to their hearts. However, there are few issues with the internal fittings, some parts of the grounds still have scaffolding boosters as the sightlines were not judged correctly and some of the connecting stairways between tiers are taped off as there are no handrails or safety features. The builders had no time and budget to reconfigure the errors before the deadlines for Euro 2012. The venue was opened in 2010 with a concert by Sting and went on to host three group games in Euro 2012 featuring Italy, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland.

The club usually have the highest average attendances in the Ekstraklasa and Lech’s fans are synonymous with choreographed bouncing and chanting. The now famous “Poznań” a turn of the back to the pitch and simultaneous bouncing originated as long ago as 1961. The south stand where the clubs Ultras now gather has one tier clad in white shirts and the other tier in blue. The organisation and impact is truly impressive.

Today Lech are entertaining another well supported club, Lechia Gdańsk whose fans are housed in a segregated section of the South stand. Lech field former Dundee United left back Barry Douglas in their starting eleven. The hosts sit third in the table while their guests are in mid table. The match goes to form with Lech dominating from the off and the soon rack up a comfortable two goal advantage. The visitors display some good approach play but seem to lack a cutting edge up front. The visiting fans, perhaps sensing imminent defeat disrupt the game some 15 minutes from the end with flares and smoke bombs. The visibility becomes so poor the referee calls a halt to proceedings for some five minutes while the smoke clears from the pitch. The home side remain well in control and even an injury time goal from Lechia is little more than scant consolation. The Lech fans were truly magnificent, relentlessly driven on by two drummers and a “capo”. Their support is loud and encouraging and not at all intimidating, in fact the number of woman and children at the game is really noticeable. Admission prices are also family friendly, around £11 for men and £7 for women, while the glossy English style programme was the equivalent of 60p.

A thoroughly recommended trip, go on get over there and bounce, you know you want to.

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Saturday March 22nd 2014 – Poland Ekstraklasa (18.30 pm)

KKS Lech Poznań (1) 2 (Pawlowski 32, Teodorczyk 61)

KS Lechia Gdańsk (0) 1 (Tuszynski 90)

Attendance: 22,497 (at the INEA Arena)

Lech:

33. Maciej Gostomski, 20. Hubert Wolakiewicz ©, 3. Barry Douglas, 35. MArcin Kaminski, 19. Kasper Hamalainen, 8. Szymon Pawlowski, 6. Lukasz Tralka, 32. Mateusz Mozdzen, 23. Karol Linetty, 11. Gergo Lovrencsics, 10. Lukasz Teodorczyk.

Subs: 4. Tomasz Kedziova (for 8, 90 mins), 5. Manuel Arboleda, 22. Daylan Claasen (for 23, 72 mins), 23. Paulus Arajuuri, 28. Dariusz Formella (for 11, 90 mins), 31. Dimitrije Injac.

Lechia:

24. Mateusz Bak, 6. Jaroslaw Bienink ©, 17. Marcin Pietrowski, 2. Rafal Janicki, 3. Nikola Levkovic, 14. Piotr Wisniewski, 21. Stojan Vranjes, 28. Christopher Oualembo, 11. Maciej Makuszewski, 27. Pawel Dawidowicz, 8. Patryk Tuszynski.

Subs: 4. Pawel Stolarski (for 28, 65 mins), 9. Piotr Grzelczak (for 14, 70 mins), 10. Przemyslaw Frankowski, 13. Wojciech Zyska, 35. Damian Garbacik, 40. Kacper Rosa, 95. Zaul Sadajew (for 17, 46 mins).

Gallery

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Reduced Circumstances (Warta Poznań)

Klub Sportowy Warta Poznań were formed in 1912 and have twice, during their 102 year history, been crowed champions of Poland. The title successes came in 1929 and 1947. They last played in the top flight in 1994/95 and currently reside in the regionalised third tier, known as II Liga (West). The Warta is the river on which Poznań lies and also translates as Guard. Formed by a group of youngsters Warta played their first match on August 18th 1912 and routed local rivals Hertha Poznań by nine goals to two.

Typical of many Polish clubs Warta Poznań comprises of several sporting sections and the Zieloni (The Greens) also field teams in fencing, hockey, canoeing, tennis and swimming.

Arguably the clubs most deified son was Marian Spoida, born in Poznań in 1901. He was a Polish League champion in 1929 and represented Poland 14 times at full international level. He later coached the club and from the mid 1930’s he was a Polish FA coach and assistant to national team manager Joźef Kałuźa. Following the German invasion of Poland after the Gleiwitz Incident in Silesia during August 1939, and the Russian invasion of the Eastern Front, Spoida enlisted to fight for his country. He was captured by Russian forces and executed in the Katyn Forest at the age of 39.

The Stalinist period was tough on Warta and the club went into decline. In 1950, in an attempting to strengthen, the club merged with HCP Poznań and the historic Warta name went into abeyance for six years until the General Assembly of the club elected to restore the Warta name.

In more recent times the club has attracted media attention by the 2010 appointment of the then 34 year for Playboy playmate Izabella Łukomska-Pyżalska as chairman of the club’s football section. Their glamorous chairman has been hit by scandal regarding the criminal activity of her husband whose indictments include attacking a lorry, theft and illegal possession of weapons. Off field issues aside, Łukomska-Pyżalska has helped Warta survive some severe financial problems that have plagued the club since the 1990’s.

The club traditionally played at the Central Stadium in Dolna Wilda which was first opened in 1929. The stadium was being rebuilt and extended in 1938 but work ceased after the German invasion. The interment of local Jews, initially into slavery, saw the Central Stadium take on a darker history as a place of systematic execution. In the 1950’s the stadium was completely rebuilt and renamed the Stadium 22 July with an impressive capacity of 60,000. The new capacity was filled only once in 1972 when a Second Division match between city rivals Lech Poznań and Zawisza Bydgoszcz created what was then a European attendance record for a second tier league match. In 1989 the stadium was again renamed this time in honour of one of Warta’s co founders Edmund Szyca. After promotion to the top flight in 1993 Warta’s finances collapsed and, in order to survive, the stadium was sold in 1998. Considering Poznań was a Euro 2012 host city you would have thought the old derelict Communist style open bowl would have been long gone and built over, you would, however, be wrong! Just a short walk from the current Warta ground, somewhat hidden by dense undergrowth lies the vast bowl . Shorn of fixtures and fittings and its wooden benching the bowl itself, the concrete bench supports and even the goalposts survive as a crumbling memorial to better times for Warta.

Since the stadium sale, Warta have played their home games at the Stadion Przy Drodze Dębińska. A vastly inferior facility it has no floodlights and has 2,500 uncovered seats set out down either side of the pitch. While the clubhouse is a fine example of austere Cold War era architecture the venue as a whole will win few plaudits for its aesthetics. That said it more than suits Warta’s current reduced circumstances and today’s crowd of around 900 are easily accommodated. Sadly the infinitely more aesthetically pleasing chairman is notable by her absence today as her charges take on Calisia Kalisz, Warta’s near neighbours from the Greater Poland province. On paper it looks like a regulation home win as Warta lie in the play off places which their guests languish in the bottom three. Right on cue former English Premier League player Grzegorz Rasiak opens the scoring for Warta after just eight minutes. Even a second yellow to midfielder Pogonowski does little to impact the hosts’ dominance. Calisia scarcely muster a shot in anger when their numerical advantage is taken away when Nigerian midfielder Nnamani lauched into a two footed challenge. He had already been carded and could have been sent off moments before for another bad challenge. The referee is left with no option but to send him off, a second yellow rather than a straight red being the only contentious call. The dismissal seemed to spur on the visitors and in the last eleven minutes they unexpectedly hammer in three goals including an injury time penalty. The home fans slope out clearly unimpressed with Warta’s tame submission.

All in all a good visit to a club with a rich and varied history, I certainly hope they can rebuild sensibly and reclaim a ranking more befitting of their heritage.

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Saturday March 22nd 2014 – Poland II Liga (West)

Warta Poznan (1) 1 (Rasiak 8)

Calisia Kaliza (0) 3 (Gawlik 79, Sobaś 89, Kostoy pen 90)

Attendance: 980 (at Stadion Przy Droga Dębińska)

Warta:

12 Semir Bukvić, 21 Przemyslaw Kocot, 16 Alain Ngamayama, 3 Lukasz Jasinski, 2 David Jasinski 4 Adrian Bartkowiak, 14 Blazej Nowak, 25 Matthew Pogonowski, 22 Karol Gregorek), 19 Michal Golinski, 18 Grzegorz Rasiak.

Subs: 11.Paul Piceluk (for 2, 82 mins); 6.Luke Spławski ( for 18, 74 mins); 10.Dominik Chromiński (for 22, 58 mins); 5. Wojciech Onsorge (for 3, 90 mins); 93. Pawel Beser; 7. Michael Ciarkowski; 13. Maciej Scherfchen.

Calisia: 1 Konrad Forenc, 4 Sebastian Fechner, 3 Matthew Gawlik, 7 Paul Krol, 20 Jacek Paczkowski, 16 Michael Bedronka, 5 Adrian Cieslak, 9 Daiji Kimura, 8 Ndubuisi Nnamani, 10 Iwelin Kostov, 14 Marcin Wandzel.

Subs: 17.Stajko Stojczew (for 5. 75 mins), 21.Daniel Sobaś (for 14, 62 mins); 19.Arkadiusz Kuciński (for 9, 77 mins), 27. Marcin Ludwikowski, 18. Bartosz Jasinski, 27. Stayko Stoychev, 6. Piotr Wieczorek.

Yellow cards: Pogonowski, Nowak, Jasinski (Warta); Nnamani, Kimura, Stojczew (Calisia)

Red cards: Pogonowski (Warta) Nnamani (Calisia).

Gallery

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The absent chairman:

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The abandoned old 60,000 capacity Stadion Edmund Szyca

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Parc Life

Having heard varying reports on the standards on offer in the Ceredigion (or Cardiganshire for the unwitting) League, I decided to approach my first toe dip in this particular part of the wild west of Wales with a distinctly open mind.

Saturday March 8th 2014 (Kick Off: 10.15 am)

Aberporth 3 (Griffiths 68,Glover og 84,M.Smith pen 87)

Crannog 2 (Roberts 12, S.Jones 28)

Att: 166 (at the Civil Service Ground, Parcllyn)

First up was a trip to the coast at Aberporth where the local side play on Ministry of Defence land in Parcllyn, The pitch is basic, not even roped off whilst the players change in a small block on the far side. The pitch has done well to survive the twin threat of copious recent rainfall and the presence of a natural spring behind the far goal which leaves the area behind the goal perpetually waterlogged. Spectators are fed and watered in a neat clubhouse over the road. The club do a sterling job getting proceedings underway and both sides put on a decent match in spite of an undulating pitch and a ferocious crosswind. The visitors, Crannog, go two up in the first half through Rhydian Roberts and Steff Jones and are good value for their advantage. The Aberporth manager must have earned his corn at halftime as the hosts tear into their opposition aided by the prevailing wind. Liam Griffiths pulled a goal back but with six minutes left Crannog still looked odds on for the win. A farcical own goal saw the scores levelled, and three minutes from time the visiting keeper conceded a penalty which was gleefully converted by Matt Smith for an unlikely comeback.

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Saturday March 8th 2014 (Kick Off: 1.15 pm)

Cardigan Town 6 (B.Davies 19,28,Thomas 53,Nash 74,86, K.Morgan 80)

New Quay 0

Att: 224 (at Parc y Reiffl, King George V Playing Field)

Onto Cardigan, one of the largest town’s in the area but equipped with one of the poorest facilities of the weekend. Part of the issue is the ground lies on common land and cannot be developed to any great degree. The club share facilities with their rugby playing neighbours whose ground boasts a decent sized stand. Off the field the club have everything well under control and the lamb cowl proved to be a big hit. On the field the visitors, last years Ceredigion League champions, New Quay, are mercilessly put to the sword by a rampant home team. Cardigan themselves were Division Two champions last season and look a really good attacking side, contending well with a bumpy pitch with tufts of untamed grass. The home team rattle in six unanswered goals of the highest order.

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Saturday March 8th 2014 (Kick Off: 4 pm)

Cilgerran Rangers 1 (K.Phillips pen 68)

Llanon 0

Att: 226 (at Parc y Dre)

Cilgerran Rovers have a very basic ground, dressing rooms are housed in containers and there is very little in the way of spectator comfort. The club however have pulled out all the stops and the variety of food and fund raising activity provided is really top notch. Well organised and extremely friendly the club coffers took a well deserved boost from all quarters. On the field, for it is more a field than a pitch given it’s rutted and bumpy surface, the two sides bludgeon each other for ninety minutes. Skill comes someway distant to honest endeavour on the unpredictable surface. The match is decided on a very harsh penalty call in favour of the hosts, the spot kick deftly taken by Kyle Phillips.

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Sunday March 9th 2014 (Kick Off: 10.15 am)

Bargod Rangers 3 (Skinner 2,35, D.Evans 77)

Maesglas 3 (James 16,38, Irvine 29)

Att: 238 (at Parc Puw)

Sunday morning begins with a scenic drive to Felindre Drefach to Parc Puw, home of the local side Bargod Rangers. Taking their name from the local river, Rangers have been members of the Ceredigion League since it’s inception in 1921. Their unbroken membership has seen eight title triumphs. The ground is a public park with a neat dressing room block in one corner. The gate to this facility is festooned with a memorial to the club’s recently deceased treasurer Glan Evans and his passing is marked with a minutes silence broken only by the chatter of birds. The two sides put on a rip roaring 3-3 draw which could easily have gone either way such was the evenly matched nature of the encounter. The weekend’s biggest crowd not only sees the best match but also sees the Bargod coffers suitably swelled, two things I am certain Glan Evans would have loved to witness.

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Sunday March 9th 2014 (Kick Off: 1 pm)

Ffostrasol Wanderers 2 (A.Bowen 57, C.Griffiths 87)

Dewi Stars 2 (Andy Jones 45, Owens 90)

Att: 166 (at Troedrhiw Park)

Knowing my football grounds as I do, I knew the indomitable organisers, Chris and Laurence had saved the best ground till last, and what an absolute corker Troedrhiw Park is. An ornate wrought iron gate is a tasty prelude to a 1978 wood and breeze block stand with gravity defying wooden plank seating. The clubhouse has several delights, a small stand tacked onto the end and a homely kitchen with football décor a plenty including a mug rack made from an old table football game. On the field the sides are evenly matched, longish grass making both elevens toil hard in unexpected heat. Andrew Jones gives the visitors a deserved lead before Alun Bowen levelled just before the hour mark. As the game appeared to be heading for a draw Ffostrasol’s lively sub Carywn Williams steered a delightful shot into the Dewi net and celebrated by rushing to the stand and sliding on his knees to mark what appeared to be the winning goal. Dewi had other ideas, however, and with virtually the last kick of a memorable weekend, Steffan Owens tapped into an unguarded net for a share of the spoils.

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So that was it, scenic, friendly and good fun. What it is not is football for the purist, if tiki-taka, a false nine and the Christmas tree formation is for you then please enjoy Sky Sports. If you prefer good, honest endeavour, the regular thwack of leather upper on shin pad, village football as it was and always will be, then this is for you. Why don’t you give it a try?