Cardiff Corinthians v Caerau
Riverside Football Ground / Welsh League Division Three / 27th December 2014
Christmas time = football time.
Having had a week back home in the South Wales valleys without football and indulging in all the festivites that Christmas brings with it, I decided that in the days following Christmas I was going to have a football binge with 3 games in 3 days. The binge started superbly with me being in attendance at the Liberty Stadium to watch my beloved Swans beat Aston Villa 1 – 0, courtesy of a superb Sigurdsson freekick; I even acquired myself a Swansea City flat cap to add to my ever-growing collection. The second day of my festive football bonanza would see me remain within the Land of My Fathers; more specifically, I was heading to Radyr to watch Cardiff Corinthians.
The small suburb of Cardiff known as Radyr has always been a rather anonymous place to me. In fact, I’ve never even set foot there, although I have gone through it countless times on the trainline connecting Cardiff to the Valleys. Yet today was going to be the day I finally set foot in the small community located 4 miles north of Cardiff’s centre.
Usually this would be the part of the blog where I delve into the location and visit various drinking holes, meet all sorts of wacky natives and generally get up to various shenanigans. However, not today. It had been made very clear to me before heading to Radyr today that I wouldn’t find anything of interest in the vicinity of the train station or a place to enjoy a prematch pint. So, instead I opted to arrive into Radyr just 35 minutes before the 2pm kick-off between Cardiff Corinthians v Caerau and head straight to the ground. This is virtually unheard of for me.
Unsurprisingly, Cardiff Corries’ home, the Riverside Football Ground, is located just off the banks of the Taff. More conveniently, it is just a 5 minute walk from the station, although I did somehow make a hash of getting there. Instead of heading down the road towards the ground, I opted to follow a old man down a narrow foliage-covered footpath convinced that this was going to be a shortcut. It did sort of work, but I did find myself behind the ground’s stand with only a small fence to hop over to enter the ground. I decided that this was not be the best way to make my entrance into the club and so I headed back down to the road and entered the ground in the correct way.
There was no sign of a turnstile, but I was stopped in the car park by an elderly gentleman who told me it was £2 entry, which I paid before questioning whether he was a strange man who was just cleverly mugging me. He was not. When I informed I was groundhopping he apologised for the lack of programmes before I informed him that I don’t really collect them anyway.
The Riveside incorporates a lot of land with the chief purpose of the fields seeming to be for cricket. Located on one side of the huge expanse is a football pitch, complete with one small sheltered stand painted in the club colours of red and gold. It certainly has to be up there as one of the most basic grounds that I’ve visited on my travels so far.
Cardiff Corries have not always called Radyr home and it was not until 1974 when they negotiated a groundshare with Radyr Cricket Club that they moved just outside of Cardiff to Radyr. Cricket is an important part of the Corries’ history as the club was only founded in 1898 when the Alpha Cricket Club decided to form a football club to stay in touch with each other through the cricket-less winter months. Originally the club called Sophia Gardens home (the home of cricket in Cardiff) before they moved to Pengam Farm in Tremorfa in the 20s. It was during this period that the club amazingly played 3 games against FC Barcelona losing all three games 4-0, 2-0 and 2-1.
The club played at numerous grounds following the outbreak of World War II, until they eventually settled on a more permanent abode at Llandaff Road in Cardiff. The 60s and 70s saw the club switch grounds regularly once again until they eventually settled in Radyr. It was in Radyr where the team would go on to win the Welsh league Premier Division and the Welsh Intermediate Cup in 1985 during the club’s most glorious era.
I headed into the small, yet cosy, clubhouse, which seemed to celebrate the place’s cricket more than its football with photos of the various teams from years gone by. No draught beer today, but the club were selling bottles of Peroni and Budweiser for £2. Outside it was cold and beginning to rain a bit so I was happy to seek stay sheltered in the clubhouse with my bottle of Budweiser until the very moment the players were ready to kick-off. It seemed even some of the Caerau lot weren’t too happy about Radyr, as I heard a couple bemoan the lack of pubs in the area as they entered the clubhouse.
With it being a chilly Saturday afternoon in South Wales, I made my way around the pitch to the shelter of the stand, as the two teams got ready to kick-off on the pitch.
I found myself by a contingent of Caerau folk in the stand and it was fair to say that a couple of them were very ‘vocal’ to say the least with the word ‘fucking’ slotting in seamlessly to every shout they directed towards the players on the field. Their eloquence also spread to the Caerau coaching staff too with them barking instructions and motivational snippets at the players incessantly. At the beginning of the game it seemed to be working anyway, as Caerau flew out of the blocks and went at Corries.
It took a matter of minutes for Caerau to take the lead and it was in style too. A brilliant cross from the right wing was controlled brilliantly in the box by the left winger, who then passed the ball across the 6 yard box for the Caerau striker to cheekily backflick it past the goalie. A superb goal.
The home team didn’t know what to do about the Caerau onslaught and the away team really should have had a penalty when one of the Corries defenders manhandled Caerau’s number 9 to the floor. The incensed striker blasted the referee for the lack of decision and then took out his frustration on the home defence by running past them and smashing home to make it 2-0 to Caerau.
The home team fought back and soon had all of the momentum with them. This was further bolstered when they scored a header from a corner and then equalised with a neat finish over the onrushing goalie. By now the Caerau coaching staff were going a bit mental.
The Corries comeback was well and truly completed later in the half, as a cross from the left was met by a simple finish at the back post by one of the Corries attackers to make it 3-2.
Before the half-time whistle, there was still time for a Caerau player to almost score one of the best free kicks I would have ever seen live, as he smashed a 35 yard thunderbolt into the crossbar, leaving the Corries keeper stranded.
Half-time: Cardiff Corries 3 – 2 Caerau. Now I’ve moaned a lot this year about how many rubbish games of football I’ve seen this season, but that has to be one of the most entertaining 45 minutes of football I’ve seen all season. Brilliant stuff and a great advert for the Welsh League.
After warming a bit in the clubhouse again (although they could have perhaps done with some heating on in there, as it wasn’t too warm in there), I headed back out pitch side, hoping that the second half would be as good as the first.
It seemed like we were in for more goals as Corries made it 4-2 early in the second half, after an excellent run into the box by the number 11 before passing to the striker to roll into the net easily.
That was to be the last of the scoring, but the game was still very entertaining with hard tackles, lots of chances and genuine end to end stuff at times. The game was much more feisty in the second half with the ref having to have a word with players and coaches on a few occasions about different issues. The feistiness even spilled over into the dugouts, as the Caerau coach didn’t take kindly to how long one of the Corries coaches was taking to get a new ball on the pitch. When he retorted with “Bloody knobheads!” the Corries management responded with “Look at Noddy over here” which I’m guessing was referring to his small stature and the hat he was wearing. In fairness, I found the blue and white striped Caerau hats which a few people were wearing to be rather fetching – and probably warmer than the Welsh football hat I had on.
With minutes left, one particularly aggressive sliding tackle from a Corries player led to not far off a full on brawl with practically all 22 players getting involved. Amazingly, not one player picked up a red card nor the player for the original tackle (which I agreed was probably a booking at most). It was probably best that the final whistle blew shortly after with tempers flaring on and off the pitch.
Full-time: Cardiff Corinthians 4 – 2 Caerau. The second half may not have had the goals of the first, but still a very entertaining affair. Easily one of the most fun games of football I’ve watched on my travels this season.
There was still time for one last beer, before I hopped on the 16:15 train back down the valley content with my football fix for the day.
Highlights: great game of football, cheap entry, cheap beer.
Low Points: Nothing near the ground, basic ground.