Welcome back to another groundhopping blog, and I’ve got a special treat for you all today!
Despite English football getting back up and running yesterday, we are still a long way off being able to actually go into the grounds.
So today I thought I’d share with you my first groundhopping foray, which was at the very start of 2018, strap yourselves in…
The first game I ever went to was in 2006, but I did not start going every weekend until 2018, and before this it was mainly just the Premier League and Championship that I went to.
Anyway, onto the story of my first ever groundhopping adventure. Me and my friends decided that we would go to Cardiff for an intense could of days of football, our initial plan was:
Friday Night- Taffs Well v Pen-y-bont
Saturday afternoon- Cardiff v Sunderland
Saturday evening- Barry Town v Bala Town
So we booked an ibis right in the middle of Cardiff and left London early on the Friday morning. We made our way along the M4, blasting tunes and laughing, excited for our football packed weekend.
We arrived in Cardiff and found our nearest Burger King, and once we were done, we made our way to Rhiw Dda’r for Taff’s Well v Pen-y-bont in the Welsh Football League Division 1.
It’s fair to say this game was absolutely nothing like I had ever been to before, I was used to the Emirates or the Amex, not second tier Welsh Football! We managed to park on the road outside the ground and paid our nominal admission fee.
We received a lovely welcome from the guy manning the turnstile, and we were ready for some excellent Friday night entertainment…
The game was a pretty uneventful 0-0.
I know a lot of you will be scratching your heads as to why I didn’t just stop groundhopping after watching a 0-0 draw on a freezing Friday night in January. But the more seasoned groundhoppers will know that this is what it’s all about!
If nothing else then it gives me a good story to tell. Rhiw Dda’r was full of friendly people and the game was hard fought, with both sides really going for it, the quality in the final third was just slightly lacking.
I really want to go back to Taff’s Well and see a goal, and hopefully I can couple it with another Welsh tick. But this game was the first taste of groundhopping and it got me hooked, so it must have been good!
Although this game kick started a series of events that have led to ‘the curse of the M4’ which I will expand on in another blog.
However, we were hoping the next game would provide us with some goals, Cardiff were chasing promotion, whilst Sunderland were battling against their second relegation in as many years.
Goals were surely on the agenda, but at half time the score was 0-0….
Surely I haven’t driven nearly 200 miles, stayed overnight to see two 0-0 draws, surely the football gods aren’t that cruel??
Thankfully Cardiff amassed four second half goals thanks to a Didier Ndong red card and a couple of mistakes from Jake Clarke-Salter (both of which me and my friend had said were quality throughout the first half!)
Calum Patterson notched just after the break and our collective sighs of relief were palpable. The atmosphere was pretty good within the Cardiff City Stadium, especially as they dispatched the Black Cats with aplomb.
Parking was also really easy, and there is a KFC within the grounds of the stadium so it is basically perfect.
After this we decided not to go to Barry v Bala as we were pretty much all footballed out.
It’s fair to say that our trip to Wales was unforgettable, and I would highly recommend both grounds to anyone thinking of making the trip across the Severn Bridge!
Me and my friend have regularly discussed making a return to Wales at some point, so watch this space…
I hope you enjoyed the story of my first ever groundhopping trip, make sure you follow @GroundhoppersG1 for more content!