Deeside Stadium – Gap Connah’s Quay FC

9 Aug

Gap Connah’s Quay FC – 3

Colwyn Bay FC – 3

Preseason Friendly – 12th July 2011

“That’ll be £18.70 mate”.

“How much?”


I questioned my sanity at this point. It’ll be £25 before I’ve seen a ball kicked, in deepest darkest Wales, to watch a friendly match that will no doubt be devoid of the atmosphere that my previous match involving Colwyn Bay (or indeed my previous match) special.

I wasn’t the only one questioning my sanity, as my work mate who often views non-league (and even lower league) football as a blight on the modern game, wondered why I was heading to Connah’s Quay to watch a football match, saying it’ll be dull and pointless. He’s a Middlesborough fan.

Just so you know where you are....

Truth be told I was ravenous. I’d be starved of football for a few weeks and desperately wanting the season to start. Furthermore, at the time of writing, thanks to Runcorn Linnettes inexplicably wanting to give their pitch a rest (like it’s Glastonbury every 4 years) this was the only chance I could realistically see the Seagulls play before the season opener and my possible flight to Bishop’s Stortford – a Conference North side located at the end of the runway at Stanstead Bloody Airport.

I was ravenous for another reason – my salad box from lunch had done little to fill me up, and I was well and truly starving for most of the trip to Connah’s Quay. So it was with great disappointment that it was announced that no food would be served at the game today. Bloody brilliant. I was told the direction to the nearest Spar which flashed signs of hot food. Sure enough, a reduced price bacon bap screamed out from the empty heater. It wasn’t nice, but I was full. Now, back to the game.

Connah's Quay fire brigade number is 25% longer than your average number.

Pre-season friendlies are ace – there I said it. If the afformented Colwyn Bay vs FC United game mentioned earlier in this post took years off my life, friendlies are a chance to meet up with friends and banter a little friendlier with the opposition. With the Seagulls undergoing a transition period (and that’s me being polite) following the leaving of the influential Cartwright family during the close season, I wasn’t quite sure of where we were. The one constant was Dave Challinor, and a lot of the playoff-winning squad, staying on.

Gap Connah’s Quay are themselves celebrating success – winning the Cymru Alliance at a relative canter. Unfortunately, they were ineligable for promotion, with the ground not having enough floodlights. Oddly at the ground there were more floodlights than at certain Welsh Premier League. The Nomads will end up back in the Welsh Premier eventually, no doubt, as they provided a stern challenge for the Bay.

Colwyn Bay did have some chances.

After some odd introductions (The Nomads were welcomed first, then The Bay, followed by the officials. Seriously it was walk in music short of a boxing introduction), the game kicked off.

The game started a little messy, with Colwyn Bay pressing but nothing being really created. Connah’s Quay hit on the break, and forced a handball on the 30th minute. A penalty, which was duely converted into the roof off the net, put the home side 1-0 up.

Connah’s Quay doubled their lead when a poor clearance by our number 6 resulted in their number 11 beating Joe McMahon with a mazy dribble and slotting the ball into the near corner past Andy Metcalf. At the half time break, Connah’s Quay did deserve the lead.

Lee Davey's penalty brought Colwyn Bay back into the game.

The second half began with both teams making numerous changes. Bay pressed forward strongly, and pulled one back when Rob Hopley sweetly struck a volley from just outside the box that gave the keeper no chance. Bay pulled back level when their number 4 was adjudged to have handballed inside the box. The pen was converted by Lee Davey. Therein followed the funniest moment of the game.

You see, Connah’s Quay stadium, if you can’t tell already, doubles as an athletic track. Despite being considered a viable alternative pursued by many clubs including West Ham & Tottenham, it’s really not – you’re too far from the pitch, the “tunnel” consists of a few hurdles back to back, and more importantly there are a few dangers. One such incident occurred with a ball boy, who after a poor shot by Gareth Evans, fell and clocked his head against one of the steeplechase barriers. He immediately got up, so therefore it was one of the funniest incidents I ever saw at a football match, but West Ham ball boys and fans – be aware.

Actually, it may knock a bit of sense into a few of there.

Connah's Quay were impressive.

Connah’s Quay took a surprising lead with a poorly cleared ball found it’s way to the back of the box and a shot by their number 9 saw them take a 3-2 lead, which was immediately cancelled out by Gareth Evans scoring with a deft chip over the advancing substitute keeper. A few good chances, glaring misses and a fantastic save by Metcalf saw the score remain 3-3 when the final whistle blowed.

The scoreline was more due to rough defending rather than either team being particularly good. Connah’s Quay was alright (it needed somewhere to get a drink and some food, but the fans and staff were lovely), but it was good to be back, Bantering with people on effectively a meaningless game is great fun. The weather held up, a cheeky pint in Spoons on the way back and a cheap game made me happy.

Mad, maybe, but certainly happy. Football is back.

About Rhys Wynne

Rhys Wynne is the editor & creator of You're Supposed To Be At Home. For his sins, he is a Colwyn Bay & Liverpool fan, and a serial blog creator. You can follow Rhys on twitter here.

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