Saturday 20th July 2013
Pre Season Friendly
Holyhead Hotspur 2 Eagle Sports 2 ht: 0-1 att: c70
Wednesday 31st July 2013
Pre Season Friendly
Holyhead Hotspur 4 Llandudno Junction 0 ht: 2-0 att: c27
from The New Oval Ground
New Oval in pictures : Old Oval in pictures
A holiday in Anglesey, staying in Holyhead, gave me several opportunities to get some Welsh grounds in, starting with Holyhead itself. They currently have the most successful club on the island in Holyhead Hotspur, who play in the Cymru Alliance, Welsh 2nd tier (Northern region). They were promoted in 2011-12.
They were only formed in 1990, but have played at this level before, getting promoted in 1996-97. They moved ground for the start of the 2007-08 season, locating right next to their old ground, opposite the leisure centre. Their old ground is still there, large as life, in good condition, albeit with a much smaller stand (holding about 50). It’s still used for training and the reserves. It does look a bit strange having two functioning grounds right next to each other and begs the question of why the move.
The new ground has a much bigger and plush stand rising nine seats up. Two blocks of 28 x 9 seats sit either side of some reserved seating giving a capacity of around 600. A covered stand that looks like a tunnel and proudly sponsored by Stena Line sits next to the main stand.
In the next picture you can see the main stand of their old ground which backs on to the new ground.
The rest of the ground comprises a large clubhouse and separate snack bar, with railed pitch and dug outs. The grounds and the leisure centre sit in a fairly bleak landscape, which makes for some good backdrops.
The Harbourmen, as they’re known, although the logo is a bee, finished seventh out of sixteen in the Cymru Alliance last year. Today’s visitors were Eagle Sports, who finished second in the Cheshire League. I was interested to know how the two teams would measure up against each other. A Welsh 2nd tier team and an English 11th tier team – sounds like even with the adjustment for relative size of the country, surely the 2nd tier Welsh team would be better?
Well it was much closer than anticipated and Hotspur started off sluggish. Eagle Sports took the lead when the keeper’s poor kick out hit an oncoming striker, with the resulting trajectory fortunate for the visitors as it trickled in. Sports were mostly untroubled and scored a second from a twenty yard punt early in the second half.
It wasn’t until the last quarter that The Bees finally burst into life, equalising on about 85, a glancing header from six yards, off a free kick.
Minutes later they were awarded a penalty and put it away for what, ten minutes earlier, looked like a very improbable draw.
We went back to the New Oval again for a Wednesday friendly against Llandudno Junction, who play a step down in the Welsh Alliance Division One.
It was the windiest game I’d ever attended, with 70/80 mph gusts blowing in off the sea. In the second half the Llandudno keeper’s goal kicks were boomeranging back towards him alarmingly. Wind assisted shots from 40 yards could only be parried, they arrived at such speed; it certainly added a new dimension to the game.
This time, Holyhead were a lot sharper and Junction struggled to get much of a hold throughout. Some excellent individual goals gave them a comfortable 4-0 victory.