Friday March 1st 2013, KO 19:30, Welsh League Division One at Rhiw Dda’r.
Taffs Well (Yellow/Yellow) 0-1 AFC Porth (White/White), admission £6, programme £1.
Attendance 87 (headcount)
Situated just to the North of Cardiff, close to the M4, Taffs Well and neighbouring Gwaelod-y-Garth, are separated by the River Taff. Taffs Well is derived from the fact that the village is the site of a natural hot spring ‘Taff’s Well Thermal Spring’ (of 18.9 degrees C, 66 degrees F) that has been used since Roman times. Taffs Well is Wales’ only natural thermal spa.
We stayed overnight in Gwaelod-y-Garth at the excellent Gwaelod Inn, home of the newly established Violet cottage brewery, a very small micro brewery situated 50 yards up the lane from the pub. We found the food here upon returning from the game wonderful, add a well stocked bar and friendly locals and with a view across the valley where the floodlights of Rhiw Dda’r were visible, then you have a great location to start a short stay in this part of South Wales. I drove to the game, but apparently you can walk it in ten minutes (take a torch).
Taffs Wells went into this game top of the league, with previous league leaders Porth being mid table. The race for the title was becoming a close run thing, with as many as eight clubs having a realistic chance of winning it. Although no doubt, most, if not all will not meet strict Welsh Prem league financial and ground criteria should they wish to progress up, currently it looks a possibility that only run away leaders Rhyl from the North Wales based Cymru alliance league will definitely make the step back up.
I’d timed my visit to Rhiw Dda’r well (pardon the pun), as only this pre-season they’d installed an attractive stand, with a good elevated view, that had much improved what would have been previously a very basic venue.
The traffic rattled by on the main A road running by the ground as the two teams went about their business. The game turned into a bit of a stalemate, defences on top, neither side gaining control and clear-cut chances at a premium.
During half time I fell into conversation with another hopper, from Bristol, whilst admiring the ground photos from the 1950s pinned to the clubhouse wall. We sat together for the second half, as we both starting to think we might see a nil all draw. However, mid way through a big gap suddenly appeared in the Well backline, a ball was played into that gap, and Tom McCarthy finished easily passed the keeper, 0-1. How it stayed, perhaps a surprise defeat, but also an indication of how tight the top half of this league is.