Monday, October 11, 2021

Ffootball, Ffriendship and Ffamily (Maybe) in Fflint

On Saturday I went to watch Flint Town United play Barry Town United in the Cymru Premier. Another away day with Barry and a chance to meet up with a friend I'd made online for the first time.

Fflint, to use the Welsh name, is a small place on the Dee river estuary. The Wirral is on the other side. I was meeting up with James, who I had 'met' on a football message board. James is a Bury fan and had recently lived through the dark days of Bury FC collapsing and being expelled from the football league due to a malevolent owner. In one of our discussions, I invited him to come and join me at a Barry game in North Wales as it's relatively easy to get there from Manchester. Today was the day.

I was a few minutes early so was able to take a photo of a large sculpture that is sort of hidden away behind Fflint train station. It's a big ffoot. 

James arrived on the train from Chester. I took this ffoto from the ffootbridge. (That's enough double effs for now.)

We then made the two minute car journey to the football ground. Fflint play at Cae-y-Castell. It's next to the Castell, although there is a lifeboat station between the castell and the ground. 

Next stop, the social club.

I took this selfie before I gave James his Barry Town scarf, which inducted him into the Barry Massive. I wasn't wearing my colours yet either. We were so early we saw the Barry coach arrive and the Clubhouse were yet to open their doors. 

In the clubhouse I noticed this old photo on the wall.

That's the Flint Town FC team in about 1920. Now this is really interesting to me because one of the few things I know about my Grandad - my Dad's dad - is that he played football for Flint Town and Holywell Town. He apparently once played against my great uncle Tommy Matthias, the Welsh international who played for Wrexham. So that would have been in the early 1920s, probably. 

I do have some photos of my Grandad from when he was young, including this photo where I would guess he is about 14, maybe.

My Grandad would have been 19 in 1920. So the question is, do you think the young man in the middle of the front row of that photo could be the 19 year old version of the lad in the formal suit?

I think it might be, in which case, I'm pretty sure that was my Grandad in the photo on the wall of the Flint Town clubhouse. 

Anyway, poor James hadn't travelled all the way to Wales to listen to my family history. We had a football match to go to! 

The Fflint clubhouse is a hundred yards from the actual ground. There was a queue at the turnstiles.

Because of the queue, and because they didn't serve any food in the clubhouse, I was waiting in line for chips when the game kicked off. Barry scored almost immediately and I didn't see the goal. 

We made our way around the pitch to where the Barry fans had staked out their territory by laying out out their flags. Fflint scored twice to lead 2-1 at the break. We were very close to the pitch in the stand we were in and there were hardly any barriers due to a lack of advertising hoardings on that side of the ground. The grass pitch was in fantastic shape.

At half time I walked back around to get a cup of tea from the refreshment hut next to the big stand. It was a long queue, but it was moving quite quickly. Not quickly enough though. The second half kicked off. Barry again scored almost immediately from the start, just as I was placing my tea order. 

I said to the chap serving that I'd missed both goals while standing in the refreshements queue so obviously I should take up residence there, to which he responded "no, you can ffwc off", and laughed.

It was a very even game, with fast-paced breaks from both sides. Barry had two or three really good chances to go in front. With a few minutes to go James observed that "this has last minute winner written all over it". He was right. A chance fell to the Fflint number Ffour and he hammered home a screamer from the edge of the area. Barry couldn't force any more chances in the final few minutes and ended up losing 3-2.

It was still a very enjoyable day though - meeting a ffriend, an unexpected ffamily connection, and a good game of ffootball to watch as well. What more could I ask for from a day out in Fflint?

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