Writing this travelogue from the desktop computer in the sun lounge of Toggie Towers on the banks of the Avon (sounds grand but, dear readers, a million miles from the actual reality !) I am faced with the problem of keeping my growing band of followers interested. I know they will be logging on to see what I, and the rest of “The Barmy Army”, got up to when we followed the lads away again. Do you want to know the route we took, the weather we experienced, what happened on the coach, what the stadium was like, when we left, when we arrived and anything riveting like that. Probably not !! Except for the “Predictor” and quiz results perhaps ! However, as a “Town Nut”, I feel honour-bound to fill up a few minutes of your time, as you have felt it necessary to open up this page.
Surprisingly we left DCS only five or so minutes late with several new faces aboard. I like to delude myself that my witterings over the last few weeks are the reason. This was the second season running that we had to travel to the Principality of Wales for an evening game, the fourth visit overall. Evesham, M5 (N), M50, A40 seemed the logical way to do the 100 mile trip. At present, we appear to be a magnet for the “wet stuff”on our journeys, although we did encounter strong sun shining into our faces on the Heads of the Valleys road (A465). This main road continues to undergo vast lengths of road improvement. If you ever need any cones, there are millions of them found along here.
On a tight schedule, a short stop was made at the service station near Ross-on-Wye for the usual reasons. Until then the journey had been quiet. Joe had not been expecting to run his prediction game as a low turn-out was expected, a small squad plus he had rushed from his Birmingham school. However, a game was soon arranged and more about that later.
What about the “Rod Quiz” you are shouting. Well, there wasn’t one ! A traffic incident outside his Warwick home had taken out a telegraph pole and consequently his internet connection. Sadly, he was unable to download questions for his fiendish quiz. This situation has also obviously caused the loss of a match report by him as Bryan was not travelling. For some reason Rod did not fancy texting his report to HQ. Yours truly cannot perform this reporting task as less-than-perfect eyesight and the inability to watch and make notes simultaneously prevents me doing it.
We arrived at Penydarren Park at about 6.45pm. It is located well within the town confines, characterised by narrow streets, which seems to be a common conception of Welsh community sports venues. The Loadlok Community Stadium has a new facia in view, as we climbed the incline to the ground, which has replaced the old dated look from past visits. This appears to have been undertaken to encompass the new hospitality suites. The bar upstairs in the main stand has also been revamped. Other than that, the ageing stadium retains its historic appearance, which many years ago staged European Cup matches with large crowds, due to the “Martyrs” qualifying via the Welsh League. As you tour round the ground from the main stand, there is an open terrace behind the goal, a long large terracing far side, which houses the only hot refreshment kiosk, and finally a seated terracing behind the other goal. The pitch has been 3G since we have been going there and has an asphalt area to divide the crowd wall from the playing area. The covered terracing provides a good enclosed atmosphere for a normally 500+ crowd.
Despite it being a night game, along distance etc, there were still one or two intrepid followers, and one director, who drove there.
The game was entertaining with the home side having more of the possession and Town defending well, until a good move and cross sent Town behind. Town had arrived with several injury worries and without on-holiday Jamie Sheldon, which produced a somewhat changed line-up
As half time came about there was a sudden loss of the floodlights, although parts of the ground did retain some lighting. Try as they might for a while, the club could not restore full floodlighting and the game was abandoned at 9.10pm.
The players did get hot refreshment, and showers, I believe. The bar retained lighting and television but the till system failed I understand. I, and others, chose to return to the coach. Leaving at about 9.45pm, a subdued quiet and sleepiness enveloped the coach, but with gentle, soft “coach music” in the background. Midnight saw our regular friendly driver discharge his passengers at midnight. After three successive away games it will be good to have a couple of home games to savour.
Who won “Joe’s Predictoor” ? Modesty does not allow me to disclose his identity but he was two results better than his nearest challenger. A welcome recompense for a disappointing match outcome, where entry cost was not refundable, nor coach fare waived!