Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rugby Notes

Great photo from Grahams’ website of the Ebbw Vale vs Glamorgan Wanderers match the other week. As I blogged, it was a mudbath, but this gives a better idea of the day.

Graham is giving up his role as Ebbw Vale’s own Statto. These are big shoes to fill. Thanks for the great work, sir.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Apprentice. In Lego!

What's the only thing that could make 'The Apprentice' any better? Firing people in Lego.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy birthday

Happy birthday Cath! Its the first time I've ever been able to buy a card that said "happy birthday to my wife"!

I love you. Its as simple as that.

Rugby Notes

Oh dear. At a rain-swept Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale and Glamorgan Wanderers fought out a draw in the mud. The hard work was done, a hard-fought victory had just about been earned; and then a couple of errors gave
a) Glamorgan Wanderers the ball in kicking range, and
b) Glamorgan Wanderers a penalty. So, 13-13 it ended.

The difference was the Wanderers' ability to execute plays. Their kicking out of hand was far superior and they made less mistakes. And they had an outside half. Ebbw could have and should have snatched it, but it wouldn't have been a fair result.

Ebbw Vale: S Hunt, J Lewis, K Owen, G Roberts, A Bevan, B Shelbourne, R Lewis, A Lott, M Williams, M Jones, W Jones (M Griffin 64), W Thomas (captain), R Dicks, J McPhail, J Thomas (J Bowd 72).

Scorers: The sole try came late on from scrum half Rob Lewis. A conversion and two penalties for Bryan Shelbourne.

My man of the match: Will Thomas for a great 80 minute effort in the mud and rain.

Match reports appear in the Western Mail, and the South Wales Andrex.

Ebbw are now in 5th place in the Principality Welsh Premiership, but with two games to go could haul themselves up to third. The table is here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ava's Diary

OK, I know. It’s an eternity since I updated my diary. But I've just been too busy. So much has happened in the past month. For example:

9 March – Mam and Dad went to stay the night at Llangoed Hall, and so I was looked after by Nanna and Grandpa. They spoiled me rotten, as usual.

15 March – Watched the Grand Slam decider with Dad. He says that I’m their lucky mascot, as they haven't lost since I was born.

20 March – I must be growing. I’ve been moved out of my Moses basket and into a proper cot. Now I can see what’s going on when I’m not snoozing.

21-24 March – My first trip to Mam and Dad’s caravan in Tresaith. It was cold. Very cold. The heating was going full blast and I wore so many layers that I looked like the Michelin Man. Got to try out my travel cot for the first time too. It snowed on our day trip to Aberystwyth.

29 March – Mam went to visit a friend and left Dad to cope with me overnight. He did OK. Considering.

1 April – Went to the regular Tuesday meeting of the baby club at the Health Centre in Pontypridd. We learned how to make our own Playdough. Well, I slept and Mam learned.

4 April – Dad really liked the card I bought for his birthday. It was hard work sneaking down the shops to get a card while he wasn’t looking though. And rummaging for change in my nappy isn't something I recommend.

8 April – Went swimming for the first time. Well, I say swimming, but mostly it was Mam holding me while we sang nursery rhymes with all the other mothers and babies. I enjoyed it immensely.

12-13 April – Spent the weekend with my Aunty Lou & Uncle Dave. They’re not really my aunty & uncle, but calling them just Lou and Dave didn’t seem right. Emily and Tess made a big fuss of me too, so I had six people looking after me. It was the second outing for my travel cot – very comfy too. Went out for a Chinese on Saturday night, and even the waitresses took turns at cuddling me.

14 April – Went to my doctor to get my second set of jabs. I didn’t want to suffer in silence so, as predicted, I screamed the place down. Mam and dad were there to soothe me so I was soon back to normal. I was weighed as well, and I am now 11lbs 4oz.

Cricket Notes

Eye Jay’s preview of the Glamorgan season is here. As Eye Jay says, mid table mediocrity would be an achievement this season, but the newly renamed Swalec Stadium will look nice.

Jason ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie has not been banned for his participation in the Indian Twenty/20 cricket circus and so will turn out for Glamorgan by the end of the month.

Speaking of which, the Indian Premier League starts today, and all of the games are covered on Setanta TV. Their preview of the competition is here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hoffi Coffi

Cath, Ava and I spend plenty of time hanging out at the local coffee shop, Hoffi Coffi in Trefforest. The food and service are wonderful, and its become something of a second home.

But talk about local produce: the cakes are made by Funny Honey Foods which is based about 100 yards from our house. And the stuff they make is fantastic too (provided you don't think about the calories!)

Laundry Notes

You start to realise how much having Ava has changed your world when the laundry is divided into three piles: dark, white, and PINK!

Rugby Notes

Best game of the year on Tuesday night, as Ebbw Vale ran wild in thrashing Aberavon 48-20.

A seven try haul isn't bad any day of the week, but when its: against a team above you in the table; against a team that knocked you out of the cup 10 days earlier; and its from a 3-17 deficit just 15 minutes into the game, then the result is even more impressive.

There's actually a report in the Western Mail, must have been a slow news day.

Ebbw Vale: S Hunt; J Lewis, K Owen, G Roberts, A Bevan; B Shelbourne (A McLaughlan 64 mins), G Williams; A Coundley (M Jones 53), R Wilkes (M Williams 70), A Lott, W Thomas (capt), M Griffin (D Hudd 64), N Aiono (R Dicks 68), J Thomas, J McPhail.

Scorers: Tries for Kristian Owen (2), Nio Aiono, Andrew Bevan, Gareth Williams, James Lewis and Anthony Lott. 5 conversions and a penalty for Bryan Shelbourne.

Man of the match: Kristian Owen, but as a complete team effort it could have gone to almost anyone.

Just three games to go, Glamorgan Wanderers and Cross Keys at home and Swansea away. Currently sitting in third, second place is certainly gettable.

As they stand:
1 Neath, played 23, 87 points
2 Cardiff, 24, 72
3 Ebbw Vale, 23, 67
4 Pontypridd, 23, 67
5 Swansea, 23, 66
6 Aberavon, 22, 64

Dilbert widget

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ponty Notes

You see all manner of strange things when you venture into Pontypridd town centre after dark. Most of them are not good.

Last week, the end of a stressful day meant a trip down to The Mighty Cod on Taff Street for a fish and chip supper. On the way out I see a middle-aged woman, well dressed and apparently sober, lying in the street with (I presume) her husband/partner standing next to her. A woman smoking a cigarette outside the Cod says that he’s just hit her. So, with chips getting cold, I go over where she’s in tears saying “don’t let him hit me again”, and he’s saying “she fell off the kerb”.

I have to help her up and then walk her over to the chip shop for her to sit down. The staff keep the husband out of the shop and call the police. And so another everyday incident of domestic violence goes on.

No wonder we’re seriously thinking of relocating to somewhere a bit more peaceful. The Assembly is opening an office in Aberystwyth soon, so…

To balance all this negative stuff up a little, here’s a link to the Ponty town website.

Travel Notes

Arriva Trains Wales have introduced an alcohol ban on its trains between Pontypridd and the upper reaches of the Rhondda valley. I was travelling home from Cardiff to Pontypridd last Friday on the Rhondda service, and noticed that indeed alcohol was being consumed.

Not a be-baseball-capped youth with tats, mind you. A middle-aged well-to-do lady was quaffing from a can of M&S gin and tonic, starting her weekend early.

Ava and Flickr

Little Ava is 3 months old now.

There’s lots of pictures up on my Flickr website. I have changed the settings there though, you need to be registered as a contact if you want to see any pics of Ava I post up on Flickr.

So if you want to see all of the Pics of Ava up on Flickr but can’t, drop me an email.

Fantasy Baseball

The baseball season is underway, and that means that fantasy baseball has started for another year.

My team, Ava's Army, is: C AJ Pierzynski (CWS), 1B Todd Helton (Col), 2B Chone Figgins (LAA), 3B Ryan Braun (Mil), SS Jimmy Rollins (Phi), OF Billy Butler (KC), OF Nate McLouth (Pit), OF Shane Victorino (Phi) and Util Carlos Guillen (Det). Bench: Aaron Rowand (SF), Jeff Keppinger (Cin) and Kaz Matsui (Hou).

My pitching is made up of starters: Justin Verlander (Det), Brian Bannister (KC), Tim Lincecum (SF), Felix Hernandez (Sea), Hiroki Kuroda (LAD) and Ian Snell (Pit), with closers: Kerry Wood (ChC) and Todd Jones (Det).

So far I'm second in the league, but its early doors yet. The fortunes of Ava's Army can be followed here.

Rugby Notes

Fine win by Ebbw Vale at Llanelli yesetrday, gaining a bonus point in a 28-13 vistory. I wasn't there, visiting Lou & Dave in Bobbington, but here's the match report from the Ebbw Vale RFC website.

"Ebbw thoroughly deserved the win in this entertaining encounter.

Even without skipper John Bowd, Neil Edwards, Ian George and SImon Hunt, the Steelmen were good value for the bonus point. They led 14 - 5 at half time thanks to two tries by full back Aaron Bramwell whose incursion to the line were casuing Llanelli all sorts of problems. He left the field after 25 minutes with a shoulder injury to be replaced by the league's most consistent full back, Andrew McLaughlan.

Llanelli had offered relatively little and Ebbw should have been further ahead: a superb break by Kristian Owen fizzled out when James Lewis dropped the pass with the try line looming.

The home team started the second half well, early pressure leading to a penalty by Daniel Evans but Ebbw struck back immediately. Quick ball went left and lock WIll Jones threw an outrageous dummy that left the defence leaden-footed allowing him to stroll over near the posts. Bryan Shelbourne, looking comfortable at 10, again converted to make it 21 - 8.

Llanelli began to exert real pressure now and, when referee Leighton Hodges sin-binned Ebbw's industrious hooker Mathew Williams, they must have felt in with a real chance against a 7-man pack. It was Ebbw who dug deep, though, pushing the Llanelli scrum back and enabling the danger to be cleared time after time.

Eventually, Llanelli did claim a second score by Daniel George but the last word went to the Steelmen; after a massive driving maul, Nio Aiono crashed over for the bonu point try and Shelbourne goaled to send the Ebbw players and their travelling support home delighted."

Ebbw Vale: Aaron Bramwell, James Lewis, Kristian Owen, Greg Roberts, Andrew Bevan; Bryan Shelbourne, Robert Lewis; Aaron Coundley, Mathew Williams, Marc Jones; Will Thomas, Will Jones; Nio Aiono, John McPhail, Rhodri Dicks. Replacements: Anthony Lott, Richard Wilkes, Matthew Griffin, Gareth Williams, Andrew McLaughlan, James Thomas, Rhys Jenkins.

Scorers: Tries for Aaron Brwmwell (2), Will Jones and Nio Aiono, all converted by Bryan Shelbourne.

Tuesday evening sees the visit of ABeravon to Eugene Cross Park, 7:30 kick off.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Podcast of the Week

triple j's This Sporting Life: 4th April, 2008

This is a terrific podcast from Australia. The comedy sports show features "Rampaging" Roy Slaven and HG Nelson. The series can be downloaded from Enjoy.

More Rugby Notes

In the Heineken Cup, last weekend was the end of the road for the two remaining Welsh so-called “regions”.

The Ospreys were lacklustre in going down at Saracens, a team they had thrashed the previous week, and the 'Blues' fell apart in the second half and got stuffed by Toulouse (pictured), despite some typically eccentric play by the French back line.

So those semi-finals line up is:
London Irish v Toulouse
Saracens v Munster

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale crashed out of the Konica Minolta Cup last Saturday, going down at Aberavon in front of the S4C cameras 22-32.

It was a case of maybe, as a very makeshift Ebbw side (injury-ravaged is the technical term) dominated large parts of the game. The kicking game let the team down though, with penalty kicks aplenty being missed. Despite that Ebbw were 17-10 up at half time. An interception try let the Wizards back in though, and a couple of key injuries weakened the pack which let Aberavon start to dominate.

The difference was a couple of key moments and the bounce of the ball. Nio Aiono had a great game but fumbled a yard short of the line; an Aberavon kick and chase looked like it had no chance until the ball bounced back to the pursuing Aberavon player when it should have done over the dead ball line. Then a final good try at the death for Ebbw was disallowed; it wouldn’t have changed the result but would have made it more respectable.

Team: Ebbw Vale: A McLaughlan; J R Williams (J Pike 25), K Owen, A Bramwell, A Bevan (R Llewellyn 79); C Anderson (G Roberts 79), B Shelbourne; I George (A Coundley 60), M Williams, A Lott (M Jones 29-39), M Griffin (W Jones 62), W Thomas, N Aiono, J Bowd (capt) (R Dicks 70), J McPhail.

Scorers: Three tries for Andrew McLaughlan and one for Andrew Bevan; a single conversion for Chris Anderson with misses aplenty for Anderson, Bramwell and Shelbourne.

My man of the match: Nio Aiono, but honorable mention to Ian George, who until he went off injured completely dominated the scrum.

Reports on the Ebbw Vale website and icwales.

So the semi-final lineup is:
Aberavon v Pontypridd
Glamorgan Wanderers v Neath

As the cliché goes, we can now concentrate on the league, where second place is probably beyond us but third is very achievable. The remaining fixtures are:

Llanelli, away, Saturday 12 April
Aberavon, home, Tuesday 15 April
Glamorgan Wanderers, home, Saturday 19 April
Cross Keys, home, Saturday 26 April
Swansea, away, Friday 2 May

Friday, April 04, 2008

Rugby Notes

It’s a big rugby weekend. Oh yes, the Heineken Cup quarter-finals, I hear you cry. No, I’m referring to the Konica Minolta Cup, which has also reached the nail-biting quarter-final stage.

The fixtures, in case you’re wondering, are:

Gloucester v Munster, 5:30
London Irish v Perpignan, 3:00

Saracens v Ospreys, 12:30
Toulouse v Cardiff Blues, 3:00
(all live on Sky Sports)


Aberavon v Ebbw Vale, 5:30
Cross Keys v Neath, 2:30
Glamorgan Wanderers v Newport, 2:30
Pontypridd v Bridgend, 2:30
(Ebbw Vale’s game is live on S4C)

Ebbw can hopefully bounce back from a poor showing against Cardiff last weekend when they went down 0-21. I wasn’t there (babysitting while Cath was away and putting a handrail on the stairs, since you ask), but here’s the always worth reading write-up on the Ebbw Vale website.

Oh, and there’s some round ball nonsense going on as well. Probably lots of diving and swearing at the ref there.

Birthday Notes

One-day-late birthday wishes to our brother over the pond. 48 yesterday.

Oh, and I'm 45 today. And there are times when I feel it too.