Monday, 26 March 2018

My Wrexham Honeymoon

Brickfield Rangers  4  Llanuwchlyn  1

Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division

“Shouldn’t you be on your honeymoon?”

They weren’t quite the words I expected to greet me as I walked through the door of the clubhouse at the Clywedog Park home of Brickfield Rangers.

I guess it perhaps did surprise the party of gents who had travelled from the South East for the game, to see me going to football the day after my Wedding. How did they know I was getting married? 

One of their old acquaintances, Dave Garrow, is a good mate of mine and he had been present at our festivities the previous evening, so I can only assume he’d told them. 

Yes, Mrs Hatt (it’s now official) is a very understanding wife and right from day one of setting the date, a trip to football the following day was not going to be curtailed, albeit the only proviso being that it didn’t involve too early a start and too late a return.

So why Brickfield Rangers?

The Business End
Quite simple really, they are one of the applicants to join the Cymru Alliance next season, and seeing as they look favourites to win the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area), they had dropped onto my radar for a visit.

Two hours after leaving home I was on the outskirts of Wrexham, a town I’ve visited on a few occasions for football, initially to see Wrexham play Swansea City back in the early Nineties, but more recently to see the likes of Lex XI, Gresford Athletic and slightly further afield, Cefn Druids, Rhos Aelwyd and Penycae.

Brickfield Rangers are located to the West of the centre of the town just off the Ruthin Road. Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground is only a mile away by road, and less as the crow flies. The town centre is walkable as are the two railway stations that Wrexham is blessed with.

The Other End - Soon To Be On The Move
I have to say I was very impressed with their set up. The dressing rooms and clubhouse sit behind the goal at the school end of the ground, while attached to the front of the building is a covered seating area. A further covered area sits behind the opposite goal, but a club official told me that was being moved shortly to an area down one side of the pitch to allow for a larger seated stand to be installed in its place.

One side has a grass bank which offers an elevated viewing area, while the opposite side of the ground which houses the dugouts is a flat standing area. No floodlights are yet in place but presumably they are on the agenda because they will be required to get a Level Two licence in Wales.

The Grass Kop
The club were very friendly indeed, happy to chat, happy to answer questions, and in terms of food, drink and programmes, all was on offer. No admission was charged, but again, I assume plans will be in place for this next season assuming the move upwards is made.

It promised to be a good game, Brickfield were top and with games in hand looked well placed to go on to clinch the title, while visiting Llanuwchlyn from the Bala area, sat third in the table. Some strong clubs have found themselves in this league now following a reduction in size of the Cymru Alliance. The likes of Buckley Town, Mold Alex, Penycae and Lex all adorn the top division while the First Division contains Rhos Aelwyd, Rhydymwyn and Llangollen Town. With the third tier of Welsh football about to see three divisions morph into two, we could see further casualties, and not least because of the increases in travelling costs and times.

The visitors took the lead in the first half through Sam Evans but as the game approached the interval Joe Sullivan poked the ball home from close range to equalise for Brickfield.

While the first half had been scrappy, the second half was dominated by the hosts and they took the lead through skipper Steve Watkin. Ross Ankers scored an excellent solo effort to make it 3-1 before Chris Boyes rounded it off with a fourth goal.

Brickfield march on at the top, but with twelve games still to play, it’s not in the bag yet. Clearly a crowded fixture list is going to have to be managed carefully, but at this stage I would make them favourites ahead of second placed Cefn Albion. Having finished runners up last season, the time has clearly come to go one better.

Welsh football is going through a period of change, Domestic Licencing has reared its head so clubs are having to get their houses in order, or suffer the consequences. Brickfield look to be proactively on the front foot and on the evidence of today, they’ll be an asset to the Cymru Alliance, assuming of course they make the cut.

The journey home took me past the Racecourse, where Maidstone United were the visitors. I caught a glimpse of the famous old Crispin End terrace between the stands. Now that was an entertaining place to watch football from, especially when the Jacks from Swansea were in town. Bread of Heaven had a different take on the Crispin, the lyrics were changed to Wrexham Lager….

Next stop the honeymoon, Mrs H has granted me a five match pass in Cornwall, not bad this married life is it?

What Marital Bliss Is All About

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