Diary of a Groundhopper

This report of the Groundhoppers’ visit to Llanandras Park on Saturday, 25 August 2012 first appeared in the Non-League Paper.

Presteigne St Andrews FC
More than 200 Hoppers attended the game on Saturday, 25 August 2012

ANOTHER convoy along the A44 sees a host of Hoppers parking along the main road in Clatterbrune, a district of Presteigne for the 4.30pm kick-off in the Spar Mid Wales League Division Two.

A short walk through a normally quiet housing estate (and a few bemused residents) brings me to Llanandras Park.

I note several people scampering off to a pub or two in the town centre. One pound sees me the owner of the only proper programme of today’s Hop games.

An attractive stand dominates the stadium and the club have hired Portaloos and a couple of gazebos for the day.

The beer seems to be going down a treat with everyone except one chap who asks if there is any Foster’s. “No, because this is a beer tent,” comes the disdainful reply.

Unfortunately, the hot food isn’t ready. In my eyes this is the cardinal sin for clubs hosting Hop matches. The players take to the field and I notice that the two linesmen are the same ones as at the previous match: heroes!

The match gets off to a roaring start. Presteigne race into a three-goal lead and then stop playing. Rangers pull two back before the break.

At half-time, many Hoppers embark on the traditional walk round the ground. This proves difficult, as the side opposite the main stand is narrow, banked and slippery.

A few mountaineering skills are needed to complete the circuit. My friend calls this the ‘hopping-round-the-ground-backwards’ ritual.

Rhosgoch are soon on level terms after the restart and Hoppers sense something special is on the cards. Our instincts are rarely wrong and so it proves this afternoon. Presteigne open up a further two-goal advantage but then Rangers come again, willed on by the 200+ Hoppers, to incredibly grab a point.

Their equaliser is an injury-time free lick of such exquisite beauty, you can almost hear the visiting crowd’s simultaneous orgasm!

Three down, one to go and already 24 goals under my belt today.

Hay St Mary’s have a lot to live up to in the evening fixture!