FOOTBALL IN WALES
FARRAR ROAD - BANGOR CITY's old ground
An aerial view of Bangor City Football ground.
The away side and television gantry at Farrar Road
Timber shoring of the rear wall of the main stand at Farrar Road
View looking over to the away side, television gantry and the main end, Farrar Road
main stand, Farrar Road
Open end, away side, television gantry, Farrar Road
close-up of television gantry, Farrar Road
Away side and main covered end Farrar Roar
Close-up of main covered end Farrar Road.
Rhyl defence clear under pressure from a Bangor cross
A high cross into the Rhyl penalty area
Lee Kendall in the Rhyl goal takes a clean catch
An aerial challenge in the Rhyl penalty area
Players line up for a corner in the Rhyl penalty area
Michael Walsh beats Lee Kendall to score the first goal for Bangor
Rhyl put a high cross into the Bangor penalty area.
A wild shot from Bangor goes way over the Rhyl bar
Marc Lloyd-Williams scores from a tight angle to beat Paul Smith for Rhyl's winning goal.
A close-up of the winning goal.
A corner goes into the Rhyl box as Bangor push up for an equaliser
A powerful header clears Rhyl's lines
Bangor City lose out in a race for the ball.
Smith clears upfield as Lloyd-Williams challenges.
Kendall in the Rhyl goal prepares to gather a loose ball.
The final attack as Bangor desperately search for an equaliser. The shot just clears the bar.
THE OVAL - CAERNARFON FC
PARK HALL - THE NEW SAINTS
This on the other hand IS a Welsh Premier League football ground. It's Park Hall just outside Oswestry, the home of TNS, The New Saints, or "They've No Support" to Shitesports fans. And I'm not sure who is taking the mickey out of who just here.
When the club was simply known as Oswestry Town in the days before Mike Harris became involved, this ground was the old army camp sports stadium with a proper pitch and a running track around the outside. It was in poor state of repair but the setting was beautiful and it really was quite relaxing to come here to watch a game.
But Mike Harris, success, European football and all the rest of it has led to the transformation of the place into a "Sports Village" with bar, squash courts, an artificial all-weather pitch and a chain-link fence. Ideal conditions for watching a a factory 5-a-side tournament if you ask me but to play a competitive football match against the might of European opposition? I think not, and I'm not at all certain that many other people think that it is either.
Mike Harris and I are old acquaintances and so he'll understand me speaking my mind. But the fact that when Chester FC folded in 2010 and he expressed an interest in moving his club to the Deva Stadium just as he had moved his club here after it had outgrown the village of Llansantffraid shows that Welsh Premier football at Park Hall is just a transient thing. What you really need to do, Mike, is to forget any thoughts of moving, change the name back to Oswestry Town and start to integrate your team into local society. Oswestry Town playing Liverpool, Anderlecht and CSKA Sofia in the European championships will win you many more friends and admirers than your own private team playing on your own private pitch ever will.
PLAS KYNASTON - CEFN DRUIDS' old ground
While I'm on my travels I'm wandering around various football grounds of some significance, and here is one such stadium. Back in 1992 the Welsh Premier League was launched with something of a fanfare (if you will excuse the pun) and 20 teams were plucked out of relative obscurity to make up the League.
Today the League has been reduced to 12 clubs and they compete on equal terms in the Champions League and the Europa League with some of the biggest clubs in Europe in stadia that are light years away from what was on offer in 1992 with television gantries and all of that. Here in the small mid-Wales town of Llanidloes, or "Llandildoes" as it was known to followers of Shitesports, the local club proudly entered the league on the opening day, was relegated at the end of the first season and has slipped back down the pyramid into relative obscurity.
These days Rhyl plays its football in a stadium that has been furnished with grandstands from Manchester City's Maine Road ground, that Port Talbot Town has recently built a 1000-seater grandstand and Neath has moved to play at The Gnoll, the home of one of Rugby Union's most famous clubs. But for those of you with nostalgia for the heady days of 1992, here's a trip down Memory Lane to a ground that hasn't changed a brick since those days.
We were talking about Welsh Premier League football grounds a little earlier and how they had evolved into something far different from how they all were back in 1992. Perhaps I should have qualified this with a "most of them" because at the time I took this photo, in June 2009, this was a Welsh Premier League ground - the home of Welshpool.
Ground regulations state, inter alia that there should be seating for a minimum of 250 people. In the grandstand over there I counted 252 seats, but with several ripped out the total was something less. The regulations also state that there should be hardstanding all around the pitch. And look as I might, I couldn't see any at all on the side of the pitch nearest the camera. I'm told that on matchday they put down coconut matting so as not to offend the cricketers.
I remember when the team won promotion to the League and the scandal that erupted when it was announced that the ground had passed the League's inspection. It is not for me to comment or to even speculate on any of the reasons why this ground was considered to comply with the League's regulations but the clear lack of commitment by the club to improve the ground at any subsequent date meant that in 2010 after another round of ground improvements had been called for by the League, the club voluntarily relinquished its licence.