Bridge Meadow Stadium Snippets 5 – Bala Town

Sion Meredith and Dylan Ebeneezer 

‘Sgorio’ do another great job

Haverfordwest County featured live on S4C’s excellent ‘Sgorio’ for the third time, and the second in as many weeks, and I know the commentators thought it was a great match, with the 1-1 scoreline belying the excitement and end-to-end flow of the game. The main men with the mikes were Dylan Ebenezer and Sion Meredith (who used to play for Aberystwyth Town) and it is good to report that they are a friendly duo and ready to chat. They even posed for a picture for my mobile phone!


Ref David did a good job

The man in the middle was David Morgan, who maintained a calm control throughout and worked well with his assistants Lewis Edwards and Harry Hendricks. He had to show three yellow cards, but all were deserved as he showed why he referees in Europe and was in charge of last season’s JD Cymru Welsh Cup between Connah’s Quay Nomads and The New Saints.

Referee David Morgan, Lewis Edwards and Harry Hendricks


Goal grabber Jack WilsonJack does it again!

Jack Wilson was again the star goal-grabber for The Bluebirds with his goal deep into time added on by fourth official Bryn Markham-Jones – and the talented 19 year old from Hakin also gave another non-stop performance of chasing people with the ball, distributing well, causing havoc with his amazingly long throw-ins (they are better than having corners!). He has been given an improved contract by the team’s management and if anyone deserves that it this young feller!


Shorter trip than most for The Lakesiders

Haverfordwest County’s opponents Bala Town are known as ‘The Lakesiders’ for obvious reasons (there is quite a big pond in the town!) and they play in white shirts and black shorts. Their journey is one of the shorter ones for visitors from North Wales, a mere matter of 116 miles each way along the A487 and A40, calling in at Aberaeron and Cardigan. Let’s hope they enjoy the scenic route down Cardigan Bay but are a little more despondent on the way home in the dark after Jack Wilson’s late goal!


VERY experienced ball boys!

Doing a good job as ball boys on the road side of the ground were a hearty trio of the oldest I’ve ever seen doing the job in Harry Thomas and brothers Gareth and Martin Lewis. All three are doing excellent work in coaching players in the club’s academy and when it was felt that it was unfair to ask youngsters to do the job in the current circumstances they volunteered to take on the role. All three did a good job and might even be asked to fulfil the role full time!

Ball boys Harry, Martin and Gareth

Nice ground – and an enviable record in European qualification

Their picturesque ground is called Maes Tegid and they have been in the Welsh Premier since 2009/10 – and they have enjoyed six campaigns in the Europa League since 2013/14, with a 1-0 against Maltese side Valetta as their first success before this season’s lock down.


Julie Le-GriceBrilliant Bluebird (1)

If anything typifies the work ethic at The Bridge Meadow Stadium it is the way that secretary Julie Le-Grice does so much – and not always in roles associated with the job either. Julie is amazing at her work, especially at this testing time in terms of following strict rules, but On Saturday evening, as I was about to leave the ground, there was Julie taking pizzas, nicely cut up by her, to all the players and officials involved. I am full of admiration for her efforts, as David Hughes, the previous chairman once told me,
“Julie is a real diamond!”


Top Bluebird Micky EllisBrilliant Bluebird (2)

Someone else for whom it means so much to be a Bluebird is Micky Ellis, the long-time former player, coach, relief groundsman and anything else that needs doing. As usual he was, as an A Licence coach, fully involved pre-match with the players but he was seen looking for a training pole and disappeared out of the ground. I couldn’t resist asking him where he had been and I discovered that when a ball had been kicked out of the ground on the main stand side and into the very dark seconds’ field below he decided it had to be recovered.

It was pitch black there and to create another problem it was flooded so he needed something to fish the ball out – hence the training pole he had used. Our picture shows him returning with the ball – he’s a real battler is our Micky!


Bala Town manager Colin CatonColin has stayed loyal as manager . . . 

Their manager Colin Caton can seriously lay claim to being the most loyal boss in the JD Cymru Premier because he has been in charge since 2003/04 and is regarded as a tough, no-nonsense manager who is respected by all the others in the league. Bluebirds’ boss Wayne Jones said he was a decent bloke and he was smashing when I called him from 40 years away to ask if I could have a photo and he took time to chat as well. Nice one Colin!


. . .  And skipper Chris is a proven goal-grabber

Their captain is Chris Venables and he has played in over 400 matches at Welsh League level and is very fast, direct and good in the air. He has been a triple ‘Golden Boot’ award winner, selected for the league’s ‘Dream Team’ and played for Wales at semi-professional and ‘C’ levels but got no change out of Sean Pemberton and Alaric Jones. His previous teams include Shrewsbury Town, Aberystwyth and Llanelli.


Bala Town - Will EvansSeven Welsh players in main squad of 20

Interestingly, there is a typical range of nationalities in their squad, like most on North Wales.

Bala has a total of 10 English players, seven Welsh, one Scot (Steve Leslie), one Spaniard (Lassana Mendes) and one Angolan/Portuguese (Raul Carreia). Will Evans, formerly a student at Cardif Met is their pin-up player and he showed his class with a well-taken goal for The Lakesiders!


Only one defeat – against The Bluebirds!

Bala drew their first match of the season, against Connah’s Quay Nomads and then beat Cefn Druids (2-1) and Penybont (5-1) so they started as favourites against Haverfordwest County but were stunned by a 92nd minute winner by Jack Wilson.

Since then they have convincingly won four matches in a row to sit third in the table, beating Aberystwyth (5-2), Barry Town (4-0), Newton (2-0) and Flint (2-1) – but not able to master The Bluebirds!


John arrives from Merthyr to take pics for The FAW

It was nice to meet a young photographer called John Smith in the ground (we were the only two in 50 metres of  the road side stand so social distancing was no problem – and during half time I asked him what a cameral like his would cost. I was amazed that it cost about cost £6,000 for the camera and lens! Small wonder then that he took some amazing snaps – sorry images – and over 140 of them can be enjoyed on the FAW web-site so just log on and see them!

FAW photographer John Smith


Sales posterAlan’s got his sale technique just right

On a light note to finish it is always good to recognise initiative when it can be seen and I have to applaud Alan Thomas, who was previously a director but now has taken charge of merchandising at The Bridge Meadow Stadium.

Like all pensioners I had to nip in to the toilets for a wee at half time and neatly arranged along the wall of the latrines are nicely-mounted images, all laminated,  of all the goods on offer, including replica shirts, mugs and snoods (I ordered one of them after the match!). So well done Alan Thomas on a clever initiative on the marketing front!

Taking the knee before kick off