SATURDAY AUGUST 25
Hay St Marys 3 Talgarth 2
THE FOURTH and final match of my Mid Wales Hop day. For some, this is five of 11 over the weekend and the Thousand-Yard-Hop-Stare is already beginning to manifest itself. It’s Saturday, it’s 7.30pm; this must be Hay St. Mary’s.
After paying the three pound entrance fee, I am handed a folded sheet of A4 paper. That’s another pound for the programme..
Admittedly, this single sheet of paper has a coloured front but Presteigne’s was a 24-pager with cardboard cover for the same price!
The Forest Road Ground is something of a quirky oddity. There are two pitches, each overlooked by a stand which resembles a modified tram or lorry trailer. They are not quite the same as a decaying old wooden beauty but I like them a lot. On my walk round the ground, I find a soggy pile of manure behind each corner flag.
There is a long queue for food. The jacket potatoes aren’t ready but Hoppers are tucking into the beans, chilli and cheese that should accompany them. At this rate, there will be nothing left to have with the potatoes when they are ready!
Before the game, there is one minute’s applause for a Mary’s player recently killed in a car crash.
I find this form of tribute much more satisfying than the usual minute’s silence, especially at big games where a few morons can cause great offence during the silence.
I feel sorry for the players who have to follow the previous three matches’ entertainment levels.
Fortunately, they don’t disappoint and manage to add another five goals to the day’s tally.
The referee even gets in on the act when he shows a Mary’s player a red card. When pandemonium breaks out around the ground, the official glances up at his raised hand and starts to laugh: he has produced red instead of yellow. The look of relief on the offender’s face is a joy to behold.
And that is my day over. Twenty nine goals at four lovely grounds, including one of my all time favourites: Penybont. I just wish I could have done the whole weekend…