Result(s): Prestatyn Town 3-0 Eagle Sports/Prestatyn Town Dev. 1-1 Eagle Sports Res. (Pre-Season Friendly)
Venue: Bastion Gardens (Saturday 25th July 2015, 12.30pm/3pm)
The first of the Welsh double header of the season saw me heading into the north of the principality, more specifically to the town of Prestatyn. Prestatyn is about halfway along the northern coast of Wales and is a popular resort town and has been involved in major historical events including being a rare British town to be bombed by the Italian Air Force and was home to the first ever KwikSave. However, the KwikSave was eventually replaced by the monster that is TESCO. The town’s Pontin’s was also the location for a film of “On the Buses”. It has also been home to the glamorous pairing of Carol Vorderman and The Lord Prescott.
As for myself, I was to be joining the Eagle Sports team on the trip to the seaside, and was to be picked up near Sankey station after some train issues. After arriving at around 10am, I was picked up on the roadside and soon we were on the way. After a few traffic issues had delayed our arrival but extended the quiz on the way, which I didn’t win, unsurprisingly, we eventually pulled into Prestatyn, not before the coach had forced a number of cars into the hedgerows along the tight country lanes of North Wales.
Upon arriving, there was a number of comments as to how a few of the players had chosen the wrong wardrobe to wear, having been tricked by the balmy appearance of the weather, but having not factored in the likelihood of the bracing wind from the Irish Sea. Luckily for the reserves, they were immediately into the warm-up ahead of their game against Prestatyn’s Development Squad, which allowed me to have a look around the ground.
Bastion Gardens, which is named after the road on which it stands, is a rather basic ground in terms of stands and spectator areas. It has two stands, the main one, The Martin Walsh Stand, stand which houses runs the length of the far touchline. There is another small stand which houses Prestatyn’s “Buy a Brick” display, and is mostly a covered standing area, though it does have a couple of seats. Alongside this are the facilities, with the adjoining clubhouse, tea bar and dressing rooms all standing, inter-connected, behind the near-end goal from which you enter. There is also a mobile room, which appears to house the interview room. As for Prestatyn’s history…
Prestatyn Town were formed in 1910, playing their first game in October that year, a 3-2 win at Rhyl Amateurs. Their first silverware came in the form of the 1929 NWCFA Junior Cup. After switching from their original Bastion Road ground in the 1960’s to their current home, the club competed in the Dyserth Area League, under the title of Chandypore FC, winning it three times (1972, ’73 & ’74) before reverting to Prestatyn Town and competing in the Clwyd Premier League, winning six league titles between 1974-’75 & 2006-’07, as well as winning the Clwyd League’s Division One (1992) & Two (1989-’90 & ’93-’94). They added cup titles to these wins in the shape of five Clwyd Premier Cups, three President’s Cups, two Alves Cups and three REM Jones Cups, all between 1975 & 2001, despite an acrimonious split in 1999, which led to the formation of the terribly named Prestatyn Nova.
After a short stint in the Welsh Alliance, winning the league in 2006, the club joined the Cymru Alliance League, the North Welsh feeder league to the Welsh Premier. After winning the 2007-’08 Alliance title, Town were promoted to the Welsh Premier League. However, promotion was dependant on ground improvements.
After floodlights were installed in May 2008, the club were allowed into the WPL, where they finished their first season in 15th. They won the 2013 Welsh Cup, with a 3-1 triumph over Bangor City and the NWCFA Challenge Cup the same year as well as reaching the second round of the UEFA Europa League, where they lost out to Croatian side HNK Rijeka, after defeating Liepajas Metalurgs, from Latvia, on penalties.
Following restructuring, the club just managed to retain their place in the WPL with an 11th placed finish at the end of 2013-’14 season, but were not as lucky last season, as they finished up in 12th place and dropped back into the Cymru Alliance for this season, their place in the Welsh top-flight being taken by Llandudno, ending a seven-year stay in the top division.
Back onto today’s games then, and the first game between the reserve sides saw a real game of two halves. The first period belonged solely to the visitors, who dominated the young development squad and led by a goal to the good at the break, via a front post header from a long throw.
The second half was a totally different story as the home side, with the wind at their backs took the game to their visitors and deservedly drew level through a good shot from just outside the box. I was particularly impressed with the young blond haired winger, who had more energy than I’ve used in my entire life so far!
So, the first game came to an end with the score a fair 1-1. Now, for the MAAAAAAIIIIIN EVENT. The Prestatyn Town first team would’ve thoroughly expected to comfortably defeat their visitors. But, it wasn’t to be the case. For the meantime, I purchased some chips from the tea bar for £1.50, which were pretty decent, and watched a bit of the cricket on the pitch that backs on to the ground behind the stand. Such is my dramatic life….
Anyway, back onto football matters and the game was underway at a good pace. Eagle proved more than a match for their hosts for the vast majority of the game and probably edged the first half, going close on more occasions than their opponents. However, they were unable to make the breakthrough past the Prestatyn ‘keeper, despite causing numerous issues, with some Prestatyn fans bemoaning the team’s newcomers, with a few guys behind me arguing the case of why and why not one of them should be in the team. I will relent in naming said player!
After the break, it was a different story. Despite Eagle gamely battling on and causing the watching reserves and support to break into song, they eventually capitulated to lack of numbers and fresh legs, with Prestatyn gleefully accepting their chances. First, a nice move through the Eagle backline saw the forward break clear and finish past the exposed ‘keeper, Craig Clare.
This looked to break the spirits of the tiring visitors and the offside trap was broken, albeit contentiously. The second looked to be just onside, as Clare was again left helpless before a clearly offside third was added, with Eagle’s defence vocally showing their displeasure at the assistant referee’s decisions.
The visitors did find the net, but were denied by their own offside decision against them, as Prestatyn showed their experience to wait for and take their chances.
At full-time, there was a short wait for the team to take on the hospitality laid on, before it was time to leave and head into Prestatyn itself and wake up a few locals who were having a quiet pub dinner. The first stop was the CookHouse, where you could see the mix of intrigue and dread fill the eyes of those enjoying the sun in the beer garden. After we swarmed in to the bar to the amusement of the girls on carvery duty,we all ordered our drinks and headed out to conquer the tables. After a quick one there, the decision was made to head up the high street and we came upon the William Morgan, where we once again headed through to the outside seating area. It was here that I was chosen as the reasonable one, as I was given the message that the manager wanted them to calm down a little, on account of the families eating. It was a fair request and one that was immediately followed, as we can all empathise on the account of that!
After some common ground was found on the basis of rugby league, an old lady was repulsed by language and a guy from Stockport was cheered, I was given the “you can’t down that!” challenge with a bottle of Desperados. Could I down it? You can be damn sure of it! Afterwards, we set off up the hill, much to the displeasure of Eagle’s Ged, who had injured his foot in the game and was struggling with the incline. He was rather pleased when the next stop off was discovered, where we all entered en mass into Archie’s Bar and Restaurant, where we were even given a reserved table as to accommodate us, which was seemingly due to the late showing of those who’d gotten the reservation. The waitress was more than happy to remove the sign and so we had a further two drinks there, on account of Craig’s earlier football card win, before it was time to head back onto the coach, where absolutely nothing of note happened*
Upon arrival, you may be happy to know that I was able to leave under my own power this time, and without any plastic bags in sight! I had seen that it was tight time was walking to get the train, so I negotiated a lift with Craig, or more specifically, his missus, to what turned out to be Warrington. It looked as though I’d missed it and would have an hour to wait, until I saw it was six minutes late. I had five minutes to get to Central. This was going to be close. The drama was at its highest!
I arrived at Central with the bridge over the road in sight, and with no train in view, I knew I had a good chance. After hastily thanking and saying goodbye to the pair who’s journey home I’d hijacked, I charged up the steps and through the station, onto the platform with a minute to spare. Phew! A nice, easy journey back followed after the stresses of getting to it in time, and so ended my first trip into Wales this season. Thanks, again, to the Eagle Sports lot for another fine day out, and I’ll see you all again on the fun bus next season!
*unless you count nudity.
Game: 6- A decent contest, overall for a friendly.
Ground: 6- Facilities good, ground fairly basic other than that.
Fans: 6- Seem a good bunch, with humour too.
Food: 7- Portion of chips was decent for the price.
Value For Money: 7- All in all, a fairly decent day out.