Sunday March 25th, KO 14:30 at the ‘Monmouth Sports Ground’.
I’d only been thinking a week or two previously that I’d not managed to visit a new Welsh league venue yet this season, when this fixture appeared on the fixture list of the back page of the non league paper.
The Welsh league website confirmed the date, and an email, and quick response from the club indeed confirmed it as
14:30 on the Sunday.
The reason for a Sun fixture being apparently that Bettws(Betis) did not wish to travel to Monmouth in midweek, quite strange as they had a journey west to Newcastle Emlyn (losing 1-2) the previous day, thus having the 2 games in 2 days.
I asked mission control, Ros . I have the mission and the control 🙂 and she agreed she was happy to visit ‘Raglan Castle’ which is sited about 6 miles West of Monmouth. So we set off on a lovely warm Spring day.
The M4 and A449 were pretty clear, maybe the official arrival of summer time and the clocks going fwd the night before had an impact on this. And I made it to the Monmouth Sports Ground a good hour before KO.
I quickly visited the clubhouse and purchased the wonderful glossy pogramme, which cost me 3 pounds. No turnstiles here, so I’d imagine quite a number of fans may not have paid, not sure if a club official came round rattling the tin, if not, they should have!
A quick saunter up the very pretty high street to tick the GBG listed ‘Kings Head’. Which really is a fantastic Wetherspoons conversion of an old residential hotel, which does indeed look very grand. Passing well known hopper and hop organiser Laurence Reade on the way, he ‘returning’ from the Kings Head.
Back to the ground, through the ornamental gate to find a good crowd having gathered on a lovely day, and certainly very apparent that a very large number of ground hoppers had made the trip.
A very pleasent ground indeed, clearly also used for Rugby and probably cricket also, with views of rolling hills, and the busy A449. The only cover being at the side of entry, where a very large terrace is sited with about 10 steps of terracing, with cover, dugouts in front. The rest of the ground being flat, although it was possible to view from behind the terracing by the road bridge, which I should imagine would give good views down to the pitch.
The first half was spent in the sun opposite the covered terracing, in the company Laurence Reade and a couple of other people known to be hoppers and well known to Laurence, one guy (Blog site ‘damage in the box’) who’d travelled from the North West for a game in Devon on the Saturday, and considered Monmouth to be one way home, so rude not to!
Pre match Monmouth Town sat top of Welsh Div Two, with Bettws struggling near the bottom of the table. The programme notes advised that MT needed 4 wins from the their last 6 to achieve promotion to Div One (the 2nd tier of Welsh football), so it sounded like motivation should not be an issue.
A minute silence was impeccably observed before KO for club official, youth co-ordinator and coach Kevin Johnson who’d sadly recently died of cancer.
The 1st half was very competitive with red shirted Bettws giving a good showing for a team that had played 24 hours previously, and if they’d had some sort of finishing ability they could have gone in at HT level, if not for what seemed to us a poor decision by the ref to award an 11th minute penalty, seemingly for a push, which was easily converted by Elliott Ford.
After half time many of us moved from the warm spring sun, to the top of the bank of terracing, to view the 2nd half happenings from the only elevated shaded area in the ground.
A very entertaining second period ensued. Dan Spence scored a 20 yard stunner in the 50th minute, before captain Jack Alderdice made it 3 in the 61st.
Between these scoring sequences Bettws created and missed a couple more chances, before clearly they ran out of steam, and Monmouth
added 3 more in the 68th (Palmer), 81st (Elliott Ford again) and in stoppage time 90+3 from Rob Laurie.
Although MT had indeed played very well to win 6-0, and will not doubt be a credit to the Welsh Division One in 12-13 season, Bettws gave it a go, and on another day this may have been a 2 or 3-0 game.
So all in all a thoroughly enjoyable day out, well hosted by the home club, and one of those days/games, that explain why we do what we do in the pursuit of new grounds 🙂