We get up to see a very wet Saturday morning and after a superb breakfast we check out of the hotel and head for Bala for the second game of our North Wales trip. Our journey takes us through the Snowdonia National Park, with the rain becoming heavier as our journey progresses. What is amazing is the number of empty cars parked at all the car parks along the way, obviously the walkers have not been put off by the heavy downpour.
Along the journey we come to Bethesda and despite a small knowledge of Welsh football I know that they have a team that won the Welsh Alliance League last season. You've guessed it, we start to look out for the ground. There are no signs of it but as we start to reach the end of the town we spot it on the right as the A5 leaves town. We double back and park up to have a quick look at Parc Meurig, the home of Bethesda Athletic FC.
This is a bonus as although I'd done a route I was relying on the Satnav and so hadn't noticed where we were going to be driving through. Please excuse the pictures as it was absolutely hammering down, resulting in a few strange looks from people passing by in the dry and comfort of their cars. (more photos of Bethesda Athletic here).
We carry on with the weather showing no signs of improving. I'm starting to get worried about the game being on especially as I have no immediate alternative. We decide to ring the Secretary of Bala Town and are reassured that there is no problem and the game will definitely go ahead. We arrive in Bala by 11.45am, in plenty of time for the 1.30pm KO. As we park the car we meet a fellow Fox who is about to go home after a weeks holiday in the area. He tells us that he usually goes to Porthmadog games when he is in the area and how that there are some nice grounds in the Welsh Leagues to visit. We make our way into the centre and have a look around before grabbing a coffee and a danish. On to the ground after this which is not far from Bala High Street.
The ground is reached through the Club car park and as you go through the turnstiles you enter the ground in one corner, to the right there is a small covered stand, to the left are the dressing rooms and the seated stands. The opposite side of the ground has the dugouts and today, a television gantry as the game is being covered by S4, the reason for the early kick off. There is hard standing all round the open sides and we have the usual stroll round the ground before taking a seat in the covered stand. The wind is very strong and looks as if it will make life difficult for the players. Some home fans take a position behind one of the goals under the overhanging trees, they will need that cover later.
Bala Town were promoted from the Welsh Alliance last season and have had a good start to their first season in the Welsh Premier. Haverfordwest were original founders of the Welsh Premier and have qualified for the UEFA Cup as recently as 2004.
The game kicks off and it becomes obvious the strong wind will play a big part in today's proceedings. Bala are quickly into their stride and take the lead on 6 minutes through Owain Roberts. Haverfordwest struggle to get a foothold in the game but Bala spurn several chances to extend their lead and have to be content with the one goal lead at half time. The players are lucky to be in the dressing rooms at this point as the rain comes lashing down again. Fortunately it stops as soon as it has started but one of the Bala subs is obviously feeling the cold as he warms up on the pitch with a cup of tea and several biscuits hidden in his training top. We've also spotted some more ball boys wearing oversized fluorescent jackets, is this common in Wales?
The second half sees Haverfordwest improve and 10 minutes in they score an equaliser through Robbie Walters and this seemed to spur them on. An offside decision stopped Haverford going in front and the game could have gone either way at this point. However Bala then had a great chance to take all three points when they were awarded a penalty in the last minute but a superb save by Lee Idzi kept the scores level. A draw was a fair result but both teams could look to having had chances to secure the win. a good game given the conditions and a very nice ground too.
A very enjoyable weekend in Wales and i think another visit is on the cards. Just one more picture, this one is for my daughter.
Bala Town 1-1 Haverfordwest County
More pictures of Maes Tegid here.