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. It’s an expression I’ve never really understood but seems apposite here, – it’s a postage stamp of a ground. Like Glan Conwy’s, but more so.
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. He had no linesmen but that’s no excuse, 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 one occasion suggesting where he should stick his whistle. 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 referee, not to run on to through balls. They would stand humble and sheepish in the midfield, while the ball trickled inoffensively to the Maesgwyn keeper. Thus the tempo of the game slowed down. Still, when an away player just couldn’t resist making the run, five yards behind the last defender, the ref blew for offside, and by now the bench were turning green and looking a little Lou Ferrino like. Mynydd did make it 2-0 with a cool slot home, how he avoided offside I don’t know, and it looked like the game would stay that way, strangled by the ineptitude of the man in black.
But a goal spree ensued late on. First Maesgwyn pulled one back for 1-2 on 79. On 87 it was 1-3, then in injury time first Maesgwyn, in an identical goal to their first made it 2-3, then a long range effort wrapped it up for 2-4.
Great game again from the point of view of both teams going for it, but unfortunately spoiled by, by quite some distance, the most inept referee I have ever seen.