Rhyl 1 Connah’s Quay 2 (28th March 2015)
Sometimes it’s hard to sum some visits. I do normally find it a refreshing change to drive up through different routes, to different parts of the country, and going to North Wales certainly counted on that front. It’s just that after a four-hour drive up, I think I was a bit jaded. It maybe didn’t help that after the journey, having not eaten for nearly five hours, the pub we went into looking for food didn’t have anything beyond crisps and peanuts.
It was certainly a friendly place, and location of the ground, next to a botanical gardens, made the area look almost affluent. Despite that, hints of lifelessness did also suggest that it looked like a place where a dead cat would draw a crowd, and when people bring up the name of Ched Evans as an example of a “local lad done good”, pride is certain taken where it can be.
I have similar mixed feelings about Rhyl’s ground too. On the plus side, it’s more or less fully covered on three sides, which is something quite welcome on a day when the odd shower rolled in. It also gives the place a good enclosed look, and there must be many clubs at this level who’d envy Rhyl’s 1750 seats. It’s just a shame that the fan who’d prefer to stand is shunted aside. It offered no covered terracing at all, beyond the overhang of the tea bar.
It doesn’t help that such conversions are often done as cheaply as possible, with temporary seating held up by scaffolding being the order of the day, often already looking old and tatty despite being recent additions.
It does look like the ground used to have a decent terrace at one end, but a club bar has been built directly behind the goal, and the terracing at either side closed off. On the plus side, the bar does offer a fantastic vantage point to anyone wanting to watch the match while still having a cheap (£2 a pint) beer or two. The usual array of scarves, pendants and photos decorate the walls. Less usual is a photo of a streaker at a Rhyl game, whose decisions to “let it all hang out” was greeted with varying degree of enthusiasm judging by the expressions in the crowd.
The weather today made such exhibitions unlikely, with the infrequent bursts of sunlight being generally pushed aside by a strong wind a touch of rain. Upon returning to my car after the game I found the wind and light rain had “enlivened” my hair to the degree that it looked like I could be related to Boris Johnson, and the weather certainly played its part in the game too.
The first goal, after troubling suggestions that this would be a 0-0, definitely looked wind assisted. With any high ball kicked into the wind often turning backwards, a punched clearance from a Connah’s Quay corner was misjudged by everyone. As it dropped, it was missed by all, and the spin was enough to carry the bouncing ball in for a slightly fortuitous lead for the away side.
Another defensive lapse saw Rhyl lose possession following a long ball, allowing a Connah’s Quay forward to nip in and steer the ball past the keeper for a 2-0 half time lead.
Rhyl did pull one back in the second half, following in from a shot that wasn’t saved, but there seemed remarkably little belief in a team who’d won six and drawn two of their last eight games. An injury time free kick was their best chance of drawing level. It was struck cleanly, but too near the keeper, and resigned groans came from fans who knew the game was pretty much up.
The fans of Connah’s Quay Nomads, who didn’t exactly flock to this local derby just 25 along the Welsh coast, were able to go home happy. My trip home, grateful for the three goals at least, was just a bit longer.