After last weekends European travels I kept it closer to home this Saturday. I took the opportunity to complete visits to all of the clubs and grounds of the Welsh Alliance League. The opportunity of a 'champagne job' admittedly influenced my decision to head to Upper Gronant today.
Prestatyn Sports were formed as recently as 2013 and have enjoyed a fair amount of success in it's short history. The club won the promotion to the Vale of Clwyd & Conwy League Premier Division in its first season before going one better and winning promotion to the Welsh Alliance League as champions in 2015. The club also won an unprecedented quadruple by adding NWCFA Intermediate Cup, Premier Cup and Presidents Cup to their trophy cabinet.
In order to gain promotion to the Welsh Alliance the club left behind their Meadows home in Prestatyn, as that ground did not meet league criteria due to a lack of changing facilities and dugouts, and moved to the Gronant Playing Fields.
The ground is pretty basic but is railed behind one goal and up to halfway line, meeting the minimum standards for the Welsh Alliance. I am led to believe Prestatyn Nova and Greenfield have previously played on this ground. Whatever the ground lacks in facilities though it certainly makes up with vista, offering great views of the Irish Sea and of the Dee Estuary looking towards Point of Ayr lighthouse and Talacre Beach. There were refreshments available and a hot brew at half time was most welcome on a bitterly cold day.
The fact that the club are playing at Gronant led to them being voted out of the Welsh Alliance at the beginning of this season. Gronant does not fall into the catchment area of the league as it is in Flintshire (which is covered by the Welsh National League) and Prestatyn are a Denbighshire club. The club appealed the decision and won meaning they were reinstated to the league. Plans are in place for a suitable home back in the town but lack of funds are proving problematic.
Penmaenmawr Phoenix were the visitors to Upper Gronant this afternoon. The opening exchanges were very scrappy with neither side able to take control. The turning point was a penalty to Sports and red card to a Phoenix defender midway through first half, for deliberately handling on the line. Ian Griffiths (33) stepped up to convert the spot kick and after that it was one way traffic and basically shooting practice for the home side.
Goals from James Harper (50) Chris Owen (53) Mike Jones (60) and Jack McDougall (80) ensured a comfortable afternoon at 'The Fortress' for Prestatyn and luckily for Penmaenmawr some of the other finishing was poor or the scoreline could have been a hell of a lot worse! The result leaves Sports second in the table, 22 points behind leaders Glan Conwy, but they still have a whopping 10 games in hand.