Result: Rhostyllen 0-1 Lex Glyndwr (Welsh Trophy First Round)
Venue: Vicarage Hill (Saturday 23rd September 2017, 2.30pm)
Att: 45 (hc)
With little in the way of standout fixtures for this week’s round of games, I again left my fate in the hands of the twitterverse and allowed them to decide where my Saturday afternoon would be spent. Four options were offered up (though Uttoxeter ended up being a Sunday, so lucky that didn’t win) and it soon became clear that the one and only Welsh option was a clear leader. As such, Friday evening saw a trip to Wrexham confirmed and a visit to Rhostyllen’s Vicarage Hill ground.
I would be accompanied by blog regular Dan on this trip, following his choice to take the plunge and embark a rare Saturday outing in recent times, with the hop over the border for only his second Welsh game (the first being our trip to Mold at the end of last season) proving too hard to resist. However, problems soon arose when the train we were planning on catching seemed to not exist (I later discovered I’d planned it on the wrong date!) and thus contingencies were made and we soon found ourselves heading for Crewe. Luckily, there was to be no “Crewe ID” required on this occasion! For those of you who don’t know the story of Crewe ID, it stems from us being refused entry to Crewe vs Preston a couple of years back, due to us not living in Crewe. I kid you not.
Anyway, with around half-an-hour in the Cheshire town to waste, we headed to the station’s bar: the Crewe Hero. A quick half later and we were finally en route to Chester, however our connection looked to be giving us only a slight chance of making our train into Wales. For once, the times worked well and the early arrival of our Virgin service saw us arriving into the shadow of Cae Ras in good time. Now for the 40 minute walk down to Rhostyllen village. Nice.
After heading down footpaths, over railway bridges, down path-less roads and past farmer’s fields, we finally found ourselves at the top of the steep hill leading down into the village. More to the point, our eyes were set upon the fine sight of the Black Bear pub…and what a little gem this place was. Not far removed from a house, the bar is only small and the place is split into a couple of small areas. The pint of Holsten was mighty good though, and you can’t say much else for less than £3. This proved to be the standard around the three hostelries within Rhostyllen too.
After finishing up our respective pints, it was onwards across the River Clywedog and up a few tree-lined steps (along with standard Rocky-esque celebration at the top) and to our last pre-match stop-off, the Swan Inn. Again, this was another welcoming pub, though seemingly more popular than the slightly out-of-the-way Black Lion. The canine regular, George, also gives nice welcomes in here, as he proceeded to sit with us for the first few minutes of our visit before heading back to his parents and settling in once more. Pints of Heineken were polished off fairly swiftly, before we too our leave and headed for Vicarage Hill and the big Welsh Trophy clash, with visitors Lex Glyndwr returning to the Hill for the second consecutive week and looking to avenge their narrow one-nil reverse which was obviously still fresh in the memory.
With Dan making the role of navigator his own, we were soon arriving at the ground, accessed by walking off the pavement and through a gate. That’s all that’s needed. Indeed, roads surround the ground on two sides, with the far end offering raised views and the opportunity for those driving to remain in cover during the more inclement weather. The remainder of the ground is open standing, but with no paving. There is a small covered terraced area on the near side touchline, which was well populated today. There are also a pair of brick dugouts but Lex decided not to use their given one, instead forming up on the opposite touchline to the dugouts, with one official from each taking on the role of assistant referee, with a distinct lack of officials clearly an issue in the area at the moment (both Division 1 games were off due to no ref too). We arrived with the players all set to go, but before we get to it, here’s the story of Rhostyllen F.C….
The current club was only formed in 2015, however football in Rhostyllen can be traced back to the 1870’s, the first reference to a team being found from 1879. Rhostyllen FC only lasted three years before reforming as Rhostyllen Victoria in 1883. This club would remain playing through until 1897 when they would fold, with another local team under the moniker Esclusham apparently taking on the reigns.
Esclusham would win two Welsh Amateur Cups (1905 & 1908), with local legend saying Billy Meredith played for the club during this period. The club played in the Wrexham National League, winning it in 1908 before joining the North Wales Alliance in 1912. After a six season spell where the club went missing, they would re-appear in the North Wales Alliance for another two years prior to the league disbanding and after a further gap in their existence, Esclusham would pop up in the 1926-’27 season of the Wrexham & District Amateur League, only the second year of that competition.
After again seemingly dropping off the footballing plane in 1929, a Rhostyllen & Bersham British Legion team, along with a Rhostyllen Sports Club side, would begin playing in the Welsh National League from 1946. After a nine-year spell, the clubs would leave the league in 1955 with a new entity, Rhostyllen Villa, coming into being, probably signalling a merger. They remained in the WNL through until 1985, (a Rhostyllen MV also won the Wrexham Area Division 1 in 1989 during a four-year existence, unsure if same club) winning the Wrexham Area Division 2 title in 1993 as Rhostyllen and Bersham FC & Division 1 in 1995 to achieve promotion to the Premier Division before seemingly folding in 1998 after becoming Rhostyllen Villa for half a season.
A Rhostyllen United (formerly Owens Corning in the WNL, ’97 Division 2 champions & ’98 Division 1 runners-up) then continued the long and winding story in 1999, but would only last until 2005 themselves, despite again getting to the Premier Division after finishing as runners-up in both Division 2 and 1 in 2002 & ’03 respectively. The current club then look to have been the next team to appear on the radar, winning the 2016 Clwyd East League to return the Rhostyllen name to the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) once more. The Division 1 was again won last season to enable the club to take a spot in the Premier Division for this season. See rhostyllen.info for more on this rollercoaster!
The game got underway with the home side narrowly on top but, to be honest, there was little to separate the two sides throughout. The first chance duly went to Rhostyllen, the Lex ‘keeper drew into a good save to palm away a shot, before my camera narrowly avoided death by ball, as it was hit square in the lens by a clearance. A big thanks here to the Lex player on the sidelines for his concern over this!!
Speaking of Lex, they began to grow into the game as the half went on and began to gain the initiative. Around half an hour in, a looping effort by their #7 clipped the top of the crossbar before going over. Then, with around ten minutes of the half remaining, the visitors would grab the lead, Jason Edwards getting to the ball at the back post to head across the home ‘keeper and into the net. I remarked soon after I wouldn’t be surprised if that was that for goals in this game, as both sides looked very well matched and, by all accounts, had a very similar match-up the previous week. Half-Time arrived with the score reading Rhostyllen 0-1 Lex Glyndwr.
With little in the way of facilities around, Dan and I wasted half-time by checking up on the scores within the English leagues which, of course, were running the usual half-hour behind the 2.30pm kick-off we had here in North Wales. Before long though, the Lex players were re-joined on the pitch by their claret-clad counterparts and we were back underway with Rhostyllen having largely the better of another tight half, but finding the visiting ‘keeper in fine form. A definite man-of-the-match performance from him, as the guys we spoke to at the end of the game agreed to.
As I alluded to above, there was little to get the pulses racing for a neutral. Indeed, the ‘keeper’s rave reviews came largely from the command he had of his box, rather than any sort of heroics. But, when he was called upon, he dealt with the danger. Firstly, he had to get down well to a free-kick that looked bound for the bottom right-hand corner and then had to keep out the Rhostyllen dangerman, wearing the #7 shirt, who did well to beat two men and force his way into the box. Unfortunately for him, the ‘keeper was equal to his effort and time ran out on the hosts’ quest for a leveller (much to our relief, nothing personal, we just really didn’t want extra time!) as Lex Glyndwr did equal up the bragging rights over the two games. Full-Time and one-nil it remained.
For Dan and I, a quick exit was made back past the Parish Hall before a visit to the Old Black Horse. Again, a nice little boozer was to be found here and a fair place to have a pint whilst planning out which bus we could get to get us back to the station. Eventually Dan sorted this all out and we were soon back at the Racecourse Ground. Well, we were actually in the Turf pub, but it’s near enough to the entrance! After wasting away the remaining half-hour in here, we left with what we thought was plenty of time, only to find a train at the platform as we entered the station. After jumping on in haste without actually knowing if it was the right one (I reckoned it was as the time matched up), we were relieved to find it indeed was heading back to Chester where we soon went in search of some much needed food.
An easy journey back through Warrington was undertaken to end off the day. In summary, yes, the game wasn’t too great in terms of excitement and it definitely lagged behind the others in the competition in terms of goals scored (4-0 was about the third lowest score, with a 10-3 being the highest!). But having said that, it certainly was watchable and I always prefer a game to have something on it all the way through, rather than it be a damp squib at half-time. Rhostyllen as a village is a nice little place and the pubs are really decent too. The ground is simple but tidy and, all in all, is definitely worth a trip out for. For next week, it’s back onto the FA Cup with the glitz and glamour of a “televised”, early kick-off. Almost unheard of….
Value For Money: 6