“That’s A Barge, Ref!”

The fixtures produced by this year’s FA Cup Fourth Round draw oozed mediocrity, and as a result, I took it upon myself to go looking elsewhere for some Saturday afternoon inspiration. The freedom of thought afforded to photographers working with Offside meant I knew some outside thinking would be well-received. Back at the tail end of last year, I began compiling a list of the more picturesque football grounds around the country, as well as a few located on the continent too, so a couple of weeks ahead of the FA Cup weekend, I trawled through my list to see which of these pitches were hosting matches that day, before narrowing down my search to accommodate a friendly weather forecast.

My research has helped me unearth all manner of grounds, but the one that ticked all the boxes was Acrefair Youth’s pitch, ‘The Bont’, located under the towering Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a World Heritage Site in North Wales.

The visitors were Garden Village, in a Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division 1 clash under grey skies in the River Dee valley. There were no more than seven or eight people watching, not even a man and his dog. In fact, my wife and our Hungarian Vizsla accounted for 25% of the gate that day. The day was all about the aqueduct. We’d walked up and along the aqueduct about an hour or so before the match, just to see if the view down was worth staying for, but it wasn’t…the dull day and lack of colours or shadows meant it wouldn’t be worth it on this occasion, but it’s definitely something I’ll return to do another time. To avoid retracing our steps, we clambered down through the woods and up onto the path alongside the pitch, arriving just in time to see the teams huddle together before kick-off.

The sun was in and out all day, but the cold weather meant few people were watching from the top of the aqueduct, or passing along in barges for that matter. I had to take my chances when I could. Fortunately, with the very last kick of the game, the home side were awarded a penalty that played right into my photographic hands, and my set was complete. Here are just a few pictures from the big game…

 

The rusty red gates at the entrance to Acrefair Youth's pitch, 'The Bont'
The rusty red gates at the entrance to Acrefair Youth’s pitch, ‘The Bont’

 

The rusty red gates at the entrance to Acrefair Youth's pitch, 'The Bont'
The rusty red gates at the entrance to Acrefair Youth’s pitch, ‘The Bont’

 

The rusty red gates at the entrance to Acrefair Youth's pitch, 'The Bont'
The rusty red gates at the entrance to Acrefair Youth’s pitch, ‘The Bont’

 

A general view of the action at 'The Bont', a football pitch located under the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, as a canal boat floats by on the top
Action from ‘The Bont’, a football pitch located under the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, as a canal boat floats by on the top

 

Goalmouth action from 'The Bont', a football pitch located under the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Goalmouth action from ‘The Bont’, a football pitch located under the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

 

Goalmouth action from 'The Bont', a football pitch located under the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Goalmouth action from ‘The Bont’, a football pitch located under the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

 

Nathan Holland of Acrefair scores a late consolation goal with a penalty at 'The Bont', a football pitch located under the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Nathan Holland of Acrefair scores a late consolation goal with a penalty at ‘The Bont’, a football pitch located under the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

 

Fortunately, renowned football magazine FourFourTwo liked it enough to run a double page spread in this month’s edition.

So it turned out to be a fairly productive dog walk in the end…

 

My image used across two pages as part of the 'Beautiful Game' feature in the latest edition of FourFourTwo magazine.
My image used across two pages as part of the ‘Beautiful Game’ feature in the latest edition of FourFourTwo magazine.
Advertisements

One Comment Add yours

  1. Some wonderful images there Simon. Really cracking stuff!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s