Saturday 19th May 2018 14.30
Welsh National League Division One
Maesgwyn 2 Mynydd Isa Spartans 4 HT: 0-1 Att: 16 FREE and no prog
Goals: 79, 90+1 : Jones 23, 52, Davies 87, Sylvester 90+2
from The Gwyn
This was part two of my ‘Unexpected Double’, a bit like Frodo’s unexpected journey, except without wraiths or Gollum (it was relating to Red Dragons though). What a charming little ground The Gwyn is, lying nestled tightly in the streets opposite Wrexham’s The Racecourse Ground. You drive down a twisty urban lane and it appears suddenly on the right like the Narnia of football grounds. The Gwyn is the smallest pitch I have ever seen, barring smaller pitches designed for kids. It was almost like a pitch in a dream, that wasn’t quite right and made one feel a little at odds, two yards shorter either side and the 18 yard line could’ve doubled as the touchline. I loved it though, along with the orange and white decor, including poles to hold the net up.
The afternoon at this quirky ground in the hot sun watching football would have been pretty much perfect were it not for the referee – the worst (easily) and most bizarre refereeing I’ve ever seen, that had all that witnessed it gnashing their teeth and pulling their hair out.
Mynydd (pronounced Munuth) split apart Maesgwyn’s defence about 15 times in the first half, but were unable to capitalise on these, due to the ref blowing for offside for about 13, of which 11/12 were wrong decisions. The first one you can forgive because he has no linesmen, but it was every time Mynydd tried to move forward; perfectly timed runs came to nothing – 2 yards on, pheep, 3 yards on, pheep, in his own half, pheep, ref with the back to the action, pheep, 4 yards on, pheep. It was intensely frustrating.
I’m all for defending referees and the time they sacrifice, and would never condone shouting at them; but you had to make an exception here. The away bench were jumping up and down with anger and, almost literally, tearing their hair out. I was shouting myself from the perimeter bar. On a rare occasion a Spartan player managed to get near the keeper, without being pulled back for offside, he rounded the keeper for 0-1.
Half time 0-1 (plus, assuming a 1-on-1 success rate of 50%, 6 more were it not for the ref)
What annoyed me was the complete lack of common sense from every perspective. The ref at the earlier game at Acton also had no linesmen. He made the common sense decision to only give it if he could see that it was blatant, giving the benefit of the doubt to the attacking team, thus creating a free flowing entertaining game. After all, there’s nothing to play for and it’s the last game of the season. Also, when you have no linesmen, you have to adjust your perspective to account for the twenty yards away you’ll be from where the player makes his run. Again, if in doubt, play on. It really was excruciating.
Thus, in the second half, the Spartans had been classically conditioned by the Pavlovian ref not to run on to through balls, and so the tempo of the game slowed down a bit. Still, when an away player just couldn’t resist, and decided to make a run for it, five yards behind the last defender, still the ref blew for offside and by now the bench were turning green and looking Lou Ferrino-like. Mynydd did make it 2-0 with a cool slot home and it looked like the game would stay that way, strangled by the ineptitude of the man in black.
Maesgwyn slotted home from eight yards with about 10 still to play to raise hopes of an unlikely comeback. However, Spartans increased their lead shortly after. In the closing stages, Maesgwyn scored a goal identical to their first to make it 2-3 before Spartans then closed off for 2-4 right at the death.
A quirkier ground you will not see and a what a day for a super Welsh double.