SATURDAY AUGUST 25
Penybont 8 St. Harmon 1
AUGUST Bank Holiday weekend is the Welsh Groundhop, organised by GroundhopUK. Unfortunately, I can only attend one day and I am miffed to miss out on many a scenic ground.
Penybont are kicking off at 11.00am, so I make a very early start. I park near the pub on the main road in the village. Much to the delight of beer-ticking Hoppers, the pub is already serving liquid refreshment!
I wander down the track, past the Portacabin that serves as a changing room and am met by a wonderful sight. The football pitch, nestled in a verdant valley, is accessed over a rustic wooden bridge across the River Ithon.
Gazebos have been erected to sell shirts, badges, etc. The pitch is railed off in what is ostensibly a livestock field.
Trotting races are held here but Monday’s meeting has been cancelled due to soggy conditions. There is a huge oak tree by one corner flag and what looks like a cowshed is being used as the refreshments area (Swallows still nesting in the roof).
The bacon sandwiches are magnificent! There is a rickety grandstand set back from the pitch but is designed for horsey spectators overlooking the finishing line. My favourite feature is the sheep trailer being used as a tea bar on the far side of the ground.
Without a doubt, the Racecourse Ground leaps into my top five football venues of all time: beautiful and quirky in equal measure.
I pay three points to the friendly volunteers and another pound for the glossy four page programme. Raffle prizes include signed Penybont picture and shirt. What would I do with them if I won. “Don’t you have an open fire that needs lighting?” is the reply!
The match is completely dominated by Penybont. They are 6-1 up at half time, the first being a stunning touchline volley from a throw-in, though the loudest cheer is reserved for St. Harmon’s goal just before the break.
The final tally is eight but should have been in double figures. But who cares; the venue will live longer in the memory than the football. What a cracking start to the day!