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Via ".@eenderinwales"

Hello there. Hope you’re feeling well today.Two years ago round September was the last time I watched a rugby game featuring Penarth RFC. It was the start of the season and they got beaten in the Welsh Division 2 East Central League by Aberdare. Two seasons later I’m back given that a combination of not working on this particular Saturday and this being the best sporting fixture on offer for me (on an equation of distance divided by cost – £3 by the way including the programme).

This time though this game is in the butt end of the season. Also Penarth are now in Division 3A East Central (a league that suddenly sounds like a class at school) so had been relegated since I’d last seen them. Penarth are ninth in a twelve team league. I don’t to be honest know how the promotion/relegation is worked out here, but I overheard someone say as long as they won they’d b safe. They were playing Old Illtydians which at the start of the game were symbolic of mid table respectability given that they were sixth. On paper then they were the favourites.

It was a bright day and the sun shone. Being Wales in March though what to wear is not an easy choice. Braver spectator souls than me plumped for the t-shirt/blouse look. Me I put a jacket on.

As I entered the ground a blonde in sunglasses was by a stool drinking something purple, Further along another blonde was sitting on the ground drinking beer. Me I just went to the bar and manfully ordered a can of coke. Before the game a couple crossed the pitch to the other side, the man holding a glass of beer as well. Yes it was that relaxed.

Unlike last time I wanted to watch the game from the stand instead of being up close as previously. My fifty five year old bones couldn’t take the strain anymore. However I couldn’t find out how to get up there. Why? Well I’d overheard a conversation saying that the insurance was revoked for fear that the stand would collapse to the floor below. Obviously my bones were not the only things unable to take the strain. Needless to say was happy to stand then.

The team seemed to have have a problem of retrieving rugby balls when they went over the roof. Thankfully they did have a ball retrieving facility present.

State Of The Art

A quick note about the main sponsor for the Old Illtydians. It was something called The Philarmonic. I’d like to think it was a Classical orchestra if only because it make a change from a gambling website but I’ve no idea. Not even their website gives any clues. Another of their shirt sponsors is The Trojan Group, celebrating a side who let’s face it, lost.

Along from where I was standing there were two young women observing the warm-up.

“Lush” I heard one of the Penarth players say as a pair of them approached the ladies.

Now I’ve never heard a man use the word lush before unless he was talking about grass or carpet. In this case he was talking about the dog the women had with them. I’ve no idea whether there was already a relationship there, the players were being players or there was a true love of the domestic wolf  but whatever the reason the men started to chat with the women and stroke the dog until in true sitcom fashion were called to join the rest of the team before they could continue further.

And before the game began I needed to do this.

Evidence

I hereby claim to be the first man to read an Alan Coren book during the intervals of a Welsh rugby match.

And so the game began. It was the visitors who instantly started the most brightly. Pressing Penarth nearly at their own line.

“Already!” I heard a boy’s voice cry out. Which seemed to suggest that an early attack on the Penarth line was not an unusual thing. This seemed to continue for most of the early stages of the game. Until one Penarth player was upended by his opponent in a style best described as WWE. As it was the wrong move in the wrong sport however the Old Illtydian player involved was sinbinned. Penarth was a player up.

The advantage told. Penarth scored a try as a gap was spotted in Old Illtydians defence.

“Simple Rhys Simple” bellowed an instruction from the Penarthian bench to the team captain. I am assuming that was a tactical instruction than a comment on the man’s intelligence.

The next score was a penalty by the away team.

In the previous game I’ve seen here a guy got injured and had to be taken from the game. This happened here. For five minutes he lay on the ground whilst paramedics dealt with what it turned out to be his left arm. Whatever the reasons why people play rugby never forget that it’s a tough game with no American football style padding. He walked off the pitch with that arm heavily strapped.

And you remember that couple who walked along the pitch during the pre match warm-up? Whilst the guy was being treated they walked across the pitch back to the other side.

A brunette was trying to control a dog on a lead. So many dogs in this place. Not easy for a domestic wolf a phobic like me.

“He’s a very good boy” she tells her friends….yeah right.

Another yellow card for Old Illtydians another gap in numbers another try for Penarth. It was how the second half ended. Full strength the away side were the better team. But Penarth took advantage of the extra man, as they should.

The Brunette with the dog came back carrying the domestic wolf.

“He can smell the food” she said. A consequence of which presumably was that the wolf was so bloated it couldn’t be bothered to walk and needed the help of his owner. Though under the circumstances who owned who was debatable.

A group of teenage children pass by. One girl shouts

“Hi dad”

Dad, a few feet away from me shouts “Stay away from the boys” and it turns out one boy in particular. That moment I suspect I’ll be saying the same thing to daughter is coming soon for me too.

The opponents score. But from the kickoff Penarth immediately score a try. Missed exactly how but it appears the Old Illitydian player misjudged the ball and the Penarth player was able to swoop and score. The Old Illitydian player is distraught. Sitting on the ground, staring at the grass as if to say “What have I done”. A Penarth player rubs the guys hair in that sort of mixture between commiseration and mockery.

Now a Penarth player gets sinned binned. No idea why. No problem either as they score two quick tries thanks to Richard Bowen, aka “Ritchie. Comparatively small he was nonetheless able to go through gaps in the defence against him and make that killer pass enabling space for the try to be made,

There’s another woman with a dog. A small thing ready it appears to bite my ankles in a second.

Another set of tries for both sides. Unlike Old Illtydians I forgot Penarth had been a man short for a portion of the game. That’s how good they were second half.

I hear dogs growling at each other. Rather that than they growl at me. If it wasn’t for the leads their owners are using to restrain them my money would have been on the pocket beast vs the lazy one (yes him. The one I mentioned earlier).

The whistle is blown Penarth win. Given their dominance in the second half the win was deserved.

Thankyou Penarth RFC and Old Illtydians RFC.

Dogs aside. It was fun.

Until the next time.