The seven deadly sins

He may only be 5foot 5inches tall, but last night a The Gnoll, in the Vale of Neath, Jonathan Pereira Rodríguez was walking as tall as one of the legendary giants that roamed these parts.  Few strikers can boast a 4 goal haul in a competitive match, let alone a 5 goal salvo.  A double hatrick is as rare as Stan Collymore letting a caller on his show actually get a word in.  But to score seven is almost unheard of in modern football.  At 9pm when he left the pitch to a standing ovation, Jonathan Pereira joined an elite club.  For not only was his seven goals the sole difference between the teams on the pitch, but he became the only player currently playing in Europe to score seven goals in a game twice.

But let’s rewind to Monday 1st August first.  That magical day happened to be CMF and my 13th Wedding Anniversary.  A blissfully happy day, spent with the little Fullers on the beach of the Gower Peninsula.  At 2pm I received an email from our good friend Mark Pitman. Continue reading

The Swans finish underNeath but over Town

In a bizarre arrangement, Swansea City played two back to back friendly games on Saturday against local Welsh Premier League sides.  First up was a visit to The Gnoll, home of Lee Trundle’s Neath, before heading down to Michael Sheen’s club, Port Talbot Town.  As always Abi Davies and Mark Pitman were on hand to give contrasting views on the afternoon’s festivities.  First up is Abi with the events at The Gnoll.

Neath 1 Swansea City 0 – The Gnoll – Saturday 16th July 2011
Swansea City continued their preparations ahead of their début season in the Premier League with back to back friendlies against Welsh Premier League sides Neath and Port Talbot.  Brendan Rodgers named equally strong sides for both games with a mixture of first team and youth players featuring.

The game as The Gnoll was the first chance Swans fans had to see Danny Graham in action following his £3.5 million move from Watford.

Steven Caulker also made his Swans debut against Neath two weeks after agreeing to join the newly promoted Welsh side on a season long loan. Continue reading

Worth the admission price alone?

Mark Pitman, our Welsh wizard, brings us another Welsh football weekend double as Neath take on The New Saints in the Principality Welsh Premier League and Wales take on England in a European Championship qualifier. With little in common initially a glaring familiar theme emerges however, as the wallets of football fans across the country become subject to situation exploitation at every level of the game and the occasion of it.

Neath 2-2 The New Saints – Principality Welsh Premier League – 25th March 2011
A popular football phrase for a flash of on the field brilliance before it was replaced with modern day Sky nonsense such as ‘take a bew, son’ or ‘unbelievable tekkers’ is the more traditional ‘that was worth the admission price alone’ or variations thereof. Neath invested in their own brand of tekker-potential in the summer with the signing of Lee Trundle headlining the arrival of a number of former Football League stars with significant Swansea City connections, and while the flashes of brilliance have been few and far between, a new initiative by the South Wales club seems set to backfire spectacularly.

A common debate in the English Premier League revolves around the fact that the everyday football fan is being priced out of the game by the greed of their clubs. From over-priced merchandise to four-figure season tickets, the revenue streams at Britain’s biggest clubs play a significant part in the young players from across the world becoming very rich, very soon. The average fan in the street resents the exploitation but the worldwide interest of the Premier League means there is a constant stream of revenue. Interestingly, the Principality Welsh Premier League acknowledged this growing resentment, and used it in their marketing campaign at the start of the season. Continue reading

New-money noisy neighbours salvage a point

Neath 1-1 Llanelli – Welsh Premier League – 18th January 2011

Our Welsh wizard Mark Pitman visits The Gnoll for a local derby on a cold Tuesday night:-

The Manchester City of the Principality Welsh Premier League welcomed rivals Llanelli to The Gnoll for what would be the second of five successive home games for the noisy neighbours of the top-flights South Wales clubs. Recent signing Matthew Rees, who captained Port Talbot Town in the UEFA Europa League earlier this season, was handed his first start in the all-black colours of the Eagles, but it was the actions of the traditional man in black that would be the subject of controversy at the end of this much-anticipated derby match.

As with most South Wales derbies in the Welsh Premier League, there was a strong Swansea City influence on show for the 500-plus crowd. The alternative option of watching Cardiff City on TV no doubt had some influence on generating the decent Swans-based attendance that Neath had asked for in the match programme, but their optimism was not matched at the turnstile, as only one gate was open as the crowd queued down Gnoll Road as the kick off quickly approached. Another popular theme with derbies in the Welsh Premier League are the sub-plots involving managers, coaches and players who have connections with both clubs and again this match was no different. Former Arsenal, Chelsea and Wales star Peter Nicholas is one of the many backroom staff that occupy the Neath technical area on a matchday, and for this derby he would be up against Llanelli manager Andy Legg, the player he signed while he was manager of Llanelli, and who subsequently replaced him in his job. Continue reading

Y bêl yn rownd

It’s not all beaches, ice cream and lava bread down here in Wales you know.  Part of my work for the week is to look at the state of Welsh football, quoted a month ago by Neville Southall as “in the last chance saloon” and obviously take in a game or two in the process.  There are some real good news stories in the valleys of South Wales at the moment.  Dean Holdsworth has led Newport County into the Blue Square Premier after walking the Blue Square South league last season and Cardiff City have been to Wembley three times in the past two seasons just missing out on a spot in the Premier League to accompany their new stadium a few months ago.

So what is Southall talking about?  He was referring to the dire situation in the Welsh Premier League.  On Friday 13th August the new slimmed down Welsh Premier League will kick off with The New Saints (aka TNS) taking on Prestatyn Town in what is seen as the last throw of the dice to make the league work.  The Welsh Premier League have been ruthless this time, reducing the league by 6 teams and applying a strict entry criteria for the twelve that remain.  The league does not have any major sponsor, vast pots of TV money or overseas commercial rights.  It is a league where part time clubs face some long slow journeys to away games to play matches in front of a couple of hundred people, whilst in the pub next door more people will be watching Sky Sports. Continue reading