Result: Glan Conwy 0-3 Eagle Sports/ Reserves: Glan Conwy Res. 2-3 Eagle Sports Res. (PSF)
Venue: Cae Ffwt (Saturday 26th July, 1.00pm & 3.15pm)
Att: About 15 hc, plus whichever team wasn’t playing.
The day started well enough, though it wasn’t to end in the best circumstances for myself. This involved some alcohol, a bag and some unsavoury scenes. Add all them together & you can probably work out what happened….
More on that later. I had originally got the train at just before 9am to Sankey for Penketh Station, just past Warrington. After arriving here, I then faced a 20-minute walk across Sankey to Thornton Road, where the Eagle Sports Club is based. After getting lost, as usual, near a Bridgfords estate agents, I eventually arrived at the ground at just before the declared set-off time of 10am, and collected my waiting Eagle Sports F.C. polo shirt, as earlier promised via the twitter account.
I boarded the bus and was immediately greeted from the back of it, which doesn’t usually happen when you go to a club who don’t really know you, and we set off through Runcorn and onto the slow moving motorways heading into North Wales at just past 10.15. After being part of the winning team on the Eagle quiz on the coach (and a nice windfall of £10 which covered the travel cost), we were soon arriving at just after 12.30 in the small village of Glan Conwy.
As the coach turned down the side road leading to it, it became obvious that the floodlights which looked like being part of the ground, were actually a part of the adjoining Garden centre. The ground/pitch was rather small and featureless in terms of structures. There was a smart brick building housing both a canteen/gym sort of area, and the changing rooms. Next to it was a stand/smoking shelter. In terms of buildings that was it, bar the dugouts on the far side of the pitch. A grassy mound ran the length of the ‘road end’ with the other ‘river end’ being hard standing, as was the full perimeter. The ‘river end’, which backs onto the River Conwy, and is overlooked with the scenic North Walian mountains as a backdrop, also has a railtrack running immediately behind it, and thus features netting to save balls from flying into the trains or water beyond. There did appear o be a speedboat on standby, just in case of the latter coming into fruition!
With a number of the Glan Conwy Reserve side already out warming up, it was time for the Eagle boys to head off and get changed ASAP, and they did just that, and soon both sides were going through their warm up routines. Then, out came the ref. Well, he didn’t look too athletic, and this proved, as he hardly ventured outside the centre-circle. Fair play to him for reffing two games though, but as he resembled a tomato more and more as the day went on, you began to get slightly concerned for his wellbeing!
The small village of Glan Conwy (or Llansanffraid Glan Conwy to give it its full title), is located in, unsurprisingly, Conwy borough. The name translates as “Church of St.Ffraid on the bank of the River Conwy”, (St.Ffraid, according to legend, sailed from Ireland on turf and landed at the Conwy. Of course, this is highly unlikely), and has been in existence since the fifth century, when it was a fishing/marine based location. Now, it’s roots have pretty much been eradicated, and it is a residential place. It faces, across the estuary the town and castle of Conwy itself.
Glan Conwy F.C. was originally formed in 1922 and played in the Vale of Conwy League, as one of seven founder members. They competed in this league until 1939, when the outbreak of WWII ended football for a while in the village, at least there is no record of the club being restarted after the war, until 1979. They rejoined the Vale of Conwy League for the new season, and played at many different venues during a nomadic period (including the wonderfully named locations of Llandudno Oval, Hotpoint, Quinton Hazell and Junction Flyover, but have used their current Cae Ffwt home since 1998, when they adopted their current colours of green & white stripes/hoops). They remained in the VoC league for 18 further years, when they won the league and North Wales Coast FA Junior Cup in 1988 and were promoted to the Gwynedd League. They immediately won this league after one season and achieved promotion to the Welsh Alliance, where they still reside. In 2009, they won the FAW Trophy. The club is nicknamed the “Jolly Boys”. A full list of the club’s honours are:
1x Ron Jones Cup: (1990)
2x John Hughes Challenge Cup: (1992, 1998)
1x Frank Tyldesley Cup (1997)
1x Quinton Hazell Trophy (1997)
1x Eryri Shield (1999)
1x REM Jones Cup (2007)
1x NWCFA Junior Cup (1998)
1x FAW Trophy (2010)
1x Vale of Conwy League Title (1998)
1x Gwynedd League Title (1999)
With music blaring form an iphone speaker, the reserve game kicked off slightly late, with the miss of the century being committed by Glan Conwy’s #11 who got past the goalkeeper, and the ball was rolling in. But he took another touch, and missed an open net from 2 yards. Needless to say, the watching Eagle’s were in some stitches at that.
A goal came from Gary Moriarty was immediately cancelled out by the home side’s tall #7 as the sides headed in at 1-1.
The second half saw further chances and goals, with Eagle Reserves once again taking the lead through Rob Hall this time. But, again Glan Conwy hit back, with 14 scoring from close range. With around eight minutes to go, a penalty was awarded to the visitors for a handball, and Gareth Williams expertly placed the ball into the bottom right corner, sending the ‘keeper the wrong way. This signalled a 3-2 success for the Reserves side over their Welsh counterparts, now it was up to the first team to match them.
The firsts got underway a little late as well, with “Abdul” baring the brunt of his teammates banter, including “Oh bloody hell, Oh Goal-Kick” being the highlight as he ballooned a cross over the bar. But, it was more of a walk in the park for them, as they outclassed their hosts 3-0. Ben Stratulis got the ball rolling with a close range finish, (well, he got hit by a Stuart Bruce shot) and after the break, further goals from Matt Cook and Steve Robinson secured the easy pre-season triumph. Bruce had ran the show in the centre of midfield, including a Brazilian like turn in the centre circle, after which he acknowledged the hoots of laughter from the watching Ressies with a wave of the hand. The watching Ressies also got on the wrong side of the Glan Conwy #5 who for some reason took exception to them enjoying a tough, but fair challenge on a Conwy midfielder who’d given it out a little earlier. He came over, had a rant then tried to do it in a nicer, more Clarke Carlisle sort of way, but alas for him, it didn’t quite work.
After the game, it was onto the pub, the only on in the village, the Cross Keys. This is where it began to get just a touch messy. After the team were joined by a Bangor City player, who’ll probably prefer to be anonymous (!) I was being beckoned in to the back room, and downing three Sambuca’s and a Stella, and after a few ‘shoes off’ songs, a worm and Bill Clinton joining the party, the team did the conga out of the boozer and down the road to the coach. Here, Bill ended up in a hedge before being rescued, and the “Eagle Bible” was on its way home.
Here is where it got very messy, if you remember the intro. After a Fosters, and some ouzo, I was at the back of the coach with Eagle shirt on engaging in some sing-songs and various other activities. Then I felt a touch* tired and needed to sit down and sleep. By now I was being serenaded with “Away In a Manger” This was, I maintain, due to not eating all day, which is a sin for myself. It never bodes well. And with alcohol on top, including some further “lemonade” which I was offered by Mr Bruce, it got worse and worse and then, shock horror, it happened. That’s as much detail as you need to know. By now, we were still in Wales, and we somehow got to Runcorn within about a minute (well, it was that quick to me!). I reckon it was after hearing my name being mentioned on the tannoy by James Maher, but who knows. Happily just after I got off, it turned out I wasn’t the only one feeling the effects as someone went flying down the coach steps!
Anyway, saying my goodbyes (well, it was probably some slurring), I was in a cab to the station at Sankey again for the train back. Here, it was RIP to my sunglasses, that as far as I know still remain on Platform 1 heading toward Warrington. If anyone knows of their whereabouts, let me know!
*Okay, maybe a bit more than a touch!
I somehow managed to avoid again going to sleep at Warrington Central, via either managing to text or talk to people on the phone, including arranging some rice for tea when I got back home (Thanks, Mum!). I was soon back into Urmston, a bit the worse for wear, but by now a fair amount better off than I had been an hour earlier i.e. I could walk. I may have made a bit of an arse of myself, but it was a bit of fun, though the Eagle committee may not have me back anymore. Have you got a banning order yet?!
Eagle Sports are a great, welcoming club, and if you are in the area they are based, do not hesitate in giving them a visit. I’ll hopefully be watching them again soon, pending any restraining orders!
My Reserves M.o.M.- GC: #7 ES: Mark Boardman
MY Glan Conwy M.o.M.- The ‘keeper
My Eagle Sports M.o.M.- Stuart Bruce
Game: 6- One sided, Eagle were so much better. Reserve game was closer and a decent game.
Ground: 5- Very basic, but nice views
Food: 6- They had some bread rolls etc with things on which a few guys had. In hindsight, I should’ve!
Fans: 5- Weren’t any to speak of really, but again is hard to gauge in a friendly.
Value For Money: 8- Free game, and a pound for a pepsi. £10 travel for a great day!
Referee: 4- Helped out as he did two games. Otherwise…..