What is the 2018 Groundhop? What teams are involved? Why does it happen?

This coming weekend will see ground hoppers from all over the UK head to South Wales for the  17th consecutive Welsh Groundhop .

It’s the final year that the Groundhop will be takin in the South Wales Alliance League.

It gives hoppers a little taste of what’s to come for the next couple of season as the hop moves over to the Gwent County League.

What is a ground hopper? The general definition is “Ground hopping is a hobby that involves attending matches at as many different stadiums or grounds as possible.

Participants are known as ground hoppers, hoppers or travellers. Largely a football-related pastime, ground hopping probably found its origin in football in the 1970s in England.

Currently, it is especially popular in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway.  There is no universal set of rules for counting ‘hopped grounds’, although a generally accepted one is that a match must have been seen at the ground.”

The Welsh Ground hop is organised by Ground Hop UK, which is run by Chris Berezai with the assistance of Laurence Reade. They organise various hops every season in Wales, Scotland and England.

The weekends give hoppers a chance to take in numerous grounds over the course of a few days rather than one game at a time. It also gives the host clubs an opportunity to increase

Last year’s hop saw attendance across the weekend over 200 for each and the majority getting towards 250 or above. Friday’s match saw 233, Saturday’s highest was 283, Sunday’s was 292 and Monday’s was 258.

This was a bit down on the previous year, where the highest over that weekend was 301 and the year before that in North Wales saw the majority of matches attended by over 300 with one match breaking the Welsh hop record with 409 attendees.

Alongside the annual August bank holiday, Chris and Laurence have also run another successful Welsh hop later in the season normally around March or April.

The last couple of years have seen hops covering the Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion League Leagues. These have seen average attendances of over 150 and a couple of games have seen almost 250 attendees.

Talking ahead of the weekend Laurence told us “It’s all in place for a great weekend, the clubs have been briefed and are very enthusiastic. Having Gwent come aboard to keep the event going in South Wales for the next 3-4 years”.

The Schedule

Friday
Friday evening sees Canton Liberal host Grange Albion in the South Wales Alliance Premier Division. Grange are currently top after a good start to the season and Canton sit 10
th. Kick-off is 6:30 pm at Lawrenny Avenue (Postcode: CF11 8BR)

Saturday
Saturday sees a dip into the Gwent County and a preview of what’s to come over the next couple of seasons.

First up is a trip to Division 1 side AC Pontymister as they host Blaenavon Blues at 11 am Longbridge Fields (NP11 6DE).  Last season Blues finished mid-table whereas Pontymister finished below them in 9th.

The afternoon starts at Division 2 newcomers Rogerstone as they host Newport Corinthians at 1:30 pm Rogerstone Welfare (NP10 9EQ). Last season Rogerstone won Gwent County Division 3 and lost the opening match this season. Corinthians finished 9th and have started this season with a win.

Up next is a trip to Villa Dino Christchurch as they host Newport Civil Service at 4:15 pm Whitehead Sports Ground (NP10 8LA). Villa Dino finished 8th last season whereas Civil started with a win on the opening day and finished 5th.

Saturday ends at Pill YMCA as they host Lliswerry at 6:45 pm Mendalgief Road (NP20 2HF). Both sides started the season with defeats and Lliswerry finished 3rd last season. During the summer 2018 Newport YMCA (Division 1) and Pill AFC (Division 2) merged to form Pill YMCA.

Sunday
Sunday sees a return to South Wales Alliance with Vale United’s Division 2 match against STM Sports Old Boys starting the day. Kick off at Corntown Pavillion (CF35 5BA) is 11 am. 

Next up on Sunday is a trip to the seaside and Division 1 side Porthcawl Town host Cornelly United at 2pm at Locks Lane (CF36 3HY). Porthcawl will be looking to continue the good start to the season as they sit third in the league.

The day finishes at Division 2 side Llangeinor as they host AFC Wattstown at 5 pm Llangeinor Park (CF32 8NU). They host will be looking to get some points on the board after 3 defeats. 

Monday
Bank Holiday Monday starts with a trip to Rhydyfelin for a match in the Taff Ely Rhymney Valley Premier League. They host Ynysbwl at The Dog Track 11 am.

It’s back to the South Wales Alliance Premier Division for the afternoon as Caerphilly Athletic host Cwm Welfare at Morgan Jones Park (CF83 3FD). Kick-off is 2 pm.  Athletic will be hoping to build on their start, whereas Welfare will be looking to move away from the bottom of the table.

The hop ends at Whitchurch Hospital (CF14 7XB) as South Wales Alliance Division 1 side AFC Whitchurch host Cardiff Corinthians at 5pm. AFC Whitchurch will be hoping to pick up some points and start moving away from the bottom of the table.

David Collins will be attending the matches over the weekend, so why not pick up the latest copy of The Welsh Football Magazine for £3. The latest issue was released last week and is a complete guide to the 2018-19 season in Wales with 40 pages of info on the league and regional structures, domestic and international previews, fixtures & key dates.

Not a groundhopper but fancy a football fix? Why not get out over the weekend and get along to a match. Unlike England and Scotland, Welsh football doesn’t have bank holiday fixtures but this weekend you have three fixtures to enjoy.

(Featured Image: Will Cheshire)

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