SATURDAY AUGUST 25
Radnor Valley 2 Newcastle 3
THE second match of the Mid Wales Hop sees a convoy of Hoppers’ cars and two coaches snaking down the A44 from Penybont to New Radnor for the 1.45pm kick-off at Radnor Valley.
I follow a dormobile down the access track only to be turned back by a steward who informs me the field is too boggy to use so I should return and park in the school grounds (no charge). A hard-of-understanding person behind me steadfastly refuses to reverse to allow me back, causing gridlock.
The farm track has been spruced up for our visit with a sprinkling of new gravel. I pay three pounds at the table placed across the increasingly muddy gateway and also one pound for the basic programme. It is very squelchy underfoot.
There is no running water or electricity at the ground, so I am amazed to find two kinds of hot stew, tea and coffee and a couple of real ales on tap in the farm shed acting as the refreshments hut.
Souvenirs are also on sale. It is a great effort by the club to cater for over two hundred spectators in what for all intents and purposes is a sheep field.
The players appear, walking across adjoining fields from the school changing rooms. Kick-off is greeted by a most unwelcome squally shower, though not entirely unexpected: the black clouds looming over the valley look like a scene from Mordor in Lord of the Rings.
This fixture is a Wales versus England tussle: last year’s league champions, Newcastle, hail from the Shropshire village of Newcastle-on-Clun.
However, the action is less than passionate until the visitors grab a two-goal lead. Radnor respond spiritedly and are level by half-time.
Rather than make the long trek back to the changing rooms, the players remain on the pitch during the break, presumably to preserve enough energy to see them through to the end of the game!
The champions nick it to spoil Valley’s afternoon, but I hope they feel proud of their efforts to make the Groundhopper’s visit an enjoyable one: I know I enjoyed mine.