Football, Gower style

14 August 2010
Welsh Cup First Qualifying Round
South Gower 2 Cadoxton Barry 0

The bare facts are these: two goals from Rob Shannon either side of half time put South Gower into the Second Qualifying Round of the Welsh Cup at the expense of their visitors, Cadoxton Barry who were playing in their first ever Welsh Cup match. But bare facts are dull and don’t do justice to a very entertaining day out in Scurlage that began with a dodgy pint and ended with a dismissed player verbally laying into the spectators.

The dodgy pint was served by the slightly confused barmaid of the South Gower Sports Club. London Pride that had not been particularly well kept – or at least had seen better days. Still, with only 20 minutes to kick off a few sips would be fine. But, no, the website and, indeed, the people at the ground we’d asked were wrong: the match would be kicking off at 2.30 not 2pm. Fifty minutes with the windswept Gower and unpleasant bitter for company. But things turned around.

The pint was replaced by a South Gower operative ensuring that no one was made ill on his watch and then the Cadoxton Barry officials proved to be a very chatty bunch who were justly proud that their newly merged club was playing its first ever match in the Welsh Cup. And, naturally, the Chairman was good friends with Steve Moore of Aberystwyth and keeps him supplied with programmes.

So we were in better spirits when the match started. We didn’t chuckle as much as the young referee did but then he seemed to find most things inordinately amusing. And for a time he didn’t have much to do. Cadoxton Barry, in green with white trim, looked confident and comfortable and South Gower, a league above and decked in dark blue and white, were mostly playing catch-up. But about fifteen minutes in Cadoxton Barry had to withdraw their number 9 and from that point on their attacks – usually coordinated via harassing winger “Buddha” seemed to lack focus. They would twice hit the woodwork but their authority on the game was gone.

Inch by inch South Gower came into it and if they never forced a save it wasn’t because they didn’t have effective control of the midfield. Just before the break a neat pass split the Cadoxton Barry defence and Rob Shannon shot home very tidily. One-nil at the break and, on balance, a little unfair on the visitors.

If Guinness World Records are interested I’d like to propose this half time break as the shortest in soccer history. We were still idly in the ‘queue’ for burgers when the players re-emerged and our view of the penalty incident blocked by foliage. We did see Shannon score his second from the spot though – the Cadoxton Barry keeper very nearly keeping it out but instead his tip took the ball onto the post and it rolled in. Effectively it was game over and despite constant harrying the visitors will have to be focusing on the South Wales Senior League and FAW Trophy from this point.

There were incidents though. As the match wore on the tackles got harder until they really did start to cross the line. As a reward for not being a sport when kicking the ball out (he leathered it into touch) a South Gower player was pretty viciously felled when going for a sliding 50/50. I’m sure in the technicalities of the rules it might only have been a yellow card but a red was natural justice. The hardness continued after that the shape left the game. The dismissed player sat beneath the covered strip by the pitch pointing out to a South Gower supporter exactly where and how he could stick his opinion. Probably just as well there was nobody official to see that.

Chuckles the ref blew for full time though and all was handshakes. The bare facts showed a 2-0 score line in favour of the higher-ranked side. But The crowd of about 20 dispersed knowing that there was a bit more to it than that and the players’ thoughts no doubt turned to post-match drinks. I hope their pints weren’t too dodgy.

(See this photo large here).

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