Bala Town v Sligo Rovers – My Review
Thank you, Ian, for inviting me to be the Cymru Premier correspondent.
What an honour!
Having fluffed on the ticket purchase to watch TNS v Linfield at the Park Hall stadium, luck was on my side and there was a second game that week. Bala Town versus Sligo Rovers in the UEFA Europa Conference League First Leg.
Despite it not being Bala’s home league ground, UEFA regulations meant this game was also going to be played at the Park Hall stadium. Tickets for the match were priced at £15.
I headed into Oswestry to meet my special guest, Miss Jones, off the school bus and after a quick change we headed for some food. As it was a really hot evening we wanted to eat outside so we sat in the courtyard of Wilson’s part of the Wynstay hotel. It has a very cool tent in the garden. I had a pineapple and soda to quench the thirst as this time I was driving. Miss Jones had an Appletize and we both had a fish finger butty.
If arriving by train into Gobowen there is a pub next door which is a decent watering hole, The Cross Foxes. There are lots more great pubs in Oswestry, which is about three miles away. A few suggestions would be The Oak, The Lion, The Griffin and The Bailey Head.
The Rugby club is situated across the road from the Park Hall Stadium where I’m sure you can get a good pint too. It’s a couple of miles to walk from Gobowen to Park Hall but there is a bus service. The stadium also has a sports bar and food on site and they do meal and ticket packages.
We arrived early and the car park is in a field. It does have its own small car park but for bigger games, they use a farmer’s field too. The stadium holds about 2,000 fans but only 1,000 are seated.
500 Sligo Rovers fans had made the journey from the West Coast of Ireland. The ones I spoke to had flown from Derry to Liverpool and then took the train to Wrexham, where they had a hotel. Buses had brought them to Park Hall.
The Bala fans turned up slowly but surely and filled the main stand with a similar amount of about 500.
We got settled in the home stand but it was so hot and we couldn’t see very well so moved into the away end (in the shade) with the Sligo fans. Sligo’s singing started about 30 minutes before kick-off and didn’t stop for the duration. The atmosphere was brilliant.
As it filled up we were soon surrounded by more singing fans. Miss Jones heard lots of f’ing and blinding, much to her amusement. There were lots of funny songs at one stage shoes came off and were waved around, but our favourite was “Is this a library?“ Ssshhh!! Ssshhhh!!
The Bala Fans remained quiet throughout.
The game was high energy on the plastic surface. Bala scored early on at around the five-minute mark and it was a great goal from Lassana Nalatche Mendes. Then it only looked like a matter of time before Sligo would equalise which they did. Number 9 Aidan Keena, with a very impressive goal in the 28th minute.
Sligo dominated and scored again in the 49th minute via Max Mata. Sligo had Nando Pijnaker sent off close to the end of play and Bala rallied again, but as the sun went down on the Park Hall Stadium it was Bala Town 1 Sligo Rovers 2 in the first leg.
Miss Jones loved the game so much she asked to go to Ireland for the second leg! She particularly loved the non-stop singing and the ‘colourful’ Irish language. I must say it was a lot of fun with the Sligo fans who looked after us very well.
I quite fancy a trip to Ireland myself!
A very enjoyable evening and I’m sure there were some very sore heads in Wrexham on Friday morning.
As a little aside early on in the day I was in Llangollen and stumbled across a small shop which sells football merchandise, Gwalia Classics.
Editor’s note: This review was submitted by Lorraine who lives in the Oswestry area and I just want to thank her for being the first person to submit a guest review and I hope there will be more to come, both from Lorraine and also more of you lovely Hoppers around the UK and Ireland!