I’ve got the hometown blues baby

20 02 2015

A couple of weeks ago I went to Llandudno, The Queen Of Welsh Resorts. I saw this sign;

Oct 29 1494

Like most people I’m not surprised when I newish street furniture but there was something disturbing about this particular inanimate object. Its application of alliteration – “private property” – to this particular vista foisted a deadening shadow upon my salad days, the golden memories of my youth were now sullied.

The patch of grass in the photo was once our perfect football pitch. The grass was perfect, the ground was scientifically flat and the area perfectly proportioned by its natural boundaries of path, grass bank, road and wall. Our fabulous games were a fabulous time of unworried shots, unruffled saves, rolled down socks and carefree grass stains on Umbro Inter away shirts.

It’s one thing to see another’s reckless abandon casually delete your past, it’s quite another to see cherished memories replaced by the dead hand of feudalism. The Llandudno I once lived is lights years away from our foreign country.

The mean streets of my hometown told me I was adrift of my moorings six months ago. The wrong people were now doing Alan Partridge’s Kate Bush Melody on the comedy gold Karaoke circuit, camouflage espadrilles were now worn with abandon, wedding suit trousers were now too short and coupled with sockless ox blood loafers and bow ties, nowadays black nike air xax trainers were worn to funerals. This was the situation six months ago, flip knows what state the town’s in now. Thank god I wasn’t paying attention a couple of weeks ago.

A promenade to town once held the promise of holidaymaker led exoticism and associated cultural exchange but now it’s just a walk to town in the rain. An Asda sits where my old school used to, the new version of my school sits where the town’s old rubbish dump used to. The newsagent that used to deliver our Daily Posts now displays a sign for Murdoch’s tabloid.

I once saw Catfish and The Bottlemen in a pub basement in Llandudno’s cultural quarter. Three years later they said this;

“….I Tweeted FIFA, and then our fans started getting involved, trying to trend the hashtag #getcatfishonfifa, so FIFA picked up and listened.

I’m more excited about that than anything; any tour, any album. That’s our childhood dream. It was massive for us growing up.”

Where’s King Canute’s throne?





Oval Ball Good, Round Ball Bad

18 02 2015

This evening a tweet from “Rugby Pigs” floated on to my timeline;

wpid-wp-1424285975528.png

I have to agree with their tweet, if anything “SAY’S IT ALL” it’s the bringing together of two photos. All young football fans are anti-social yobs and all young rugby fans are cherubic darlings, just look at the words.

The logic is quite literally flawless. It’s a well know fact that you can’t move in football grounds without treading on foul-mouthed three year olds and it’s another well known fact all hooligan firms have names like “The Accrington Freelance Troubleshooters (Under 5s section)” and “Prestatyn Preacher Patrol Under 6s”. Ipso facto all football fans are scumbags, especially the kids, especially the kids.

Far be it from me to argue with the clear cast iron logic of the computer generated art but it’s another feeble example of twitter humour. I’ll concede that football can cause people to “lower their inhibitions slightly”, so there may be a microscopic speck of truth in the joke, but how many six year olds, never mind the six year old Feyenoord fans, act is this way on a regular basis? Then to juxtapose this idea with the impeccably Americanised behaviour of an official mascot. Tsk tsk.

The annual seepage of vomit flecked philosophers on to the streets of Cardiff suggests that rugby fans might not be the paragons their stereotype suggests. Some people even go as far as to claim that rugby fans are “as bad as scumbag football fans” nowadays. The false dichotomy need detain us no longer. Let’s just say that some football fans are idiots and most rugby fans willingly vote Conservative and cheer while their mates drink cocktails of frothing bodily fluids and leave it at that.

Let us return to the joke. If there was a choice between guiding my six year old towards one of the two behaviours it’s not an easy process to deal with. On the one hand I wouldn’t encourage them to publically insult other people with hand gestures. On the other hand I wouldn’t encourage unthinking displays of excessive national pride. There’s probably a middle ground between the two.

If the author of the joke finds something palatable in a child’s exaggerated expression of a national anthem that celebrates the continuation of feudalism he’s probably not the sort of person I want to spend time with. While we’re at it, what’s with the metaphorical clutching of the heart? This country, as Partridge might say.





The January Blues

7 02 2015

Bangor City 2 Port Talbot 1
Welsh Premier League
10/1/15

We won a home match, YES, WE WON A BLOODY HOME MATCH.

Phone 076

Bala Town 3 Bangor City 0
Welsh Premier League
14/1/15

This match had been due to take place the previous night but a postponement was called. The match was moved to Rhyl. Rhyl scallies hate Bangor so much they came to insult us for 20 minutes and then trudge home like bored teenagers. It rained.

Jan 15 023

Cefn Druids P Bangor City P
Welsh Premier League
18/1/15

We travelled in hope but the pitch was evidently frozen. The match was called off by the referee just in time to claim expenses.

Feb 7 008

Prestatyn Town U19s 0 Bangor City U19s 1
FAW Development League
18/1/15

Dave and I tried to salvage something from from the day by getting cold at an U19s match. Usually there were more goals at U19s matches.

Feb 7 044

Cefn Druids 2 Bangor City 2
Welsh Premier League
24/1/15

A last minute equaliser is always rather satisfying.

2 Feb 044

Carmarthen Town 3 Bangor City 3
Welsh Premier League
31/1/15

Instead of going to this match I went to Llandudno. Instead of seeing another late, late equaliser I listened to Michael Owen’s moral relativity, a world where handball is the grossest violation of the angelic spirit of football but divers are entitled to go down there like I said Clive.

Just after 2:30 pm I found myself next to a pool table without the requisite amount of change, my heart told me I should have gone south.





The festive football period this time.

8 01 2015

Wigan Athletic 1 Rotherham United 2
Football League Championship
20/12/14

A cheap ticket to Manchester, FC United rained off, Wigan at home, DVDs from Fopp, Christmas jumpers and banter on the Piccadilly platform, a free ticket in the away end from a steward.

1

Prestatyn Town 1 Bangor City 2
Welsh Premier League
21/12/14

There’s nothing more satisfying than another win for the blues, especially when it comes against a club that revels in using their shoulders to support chips.

Dec22 005

Bala Town A Bangor City A
Welsh Premier League
26/12/15

Abandoned at half time. I refused to travel to Bala as a political protest against the lack of public transport on Boxing Day.

Tranmere Rovers 2 Northampton Town 1
Football League League Two
28/12/14

Two top top lads were at it on Rock Ferry’s platforms;”WE’RE NORTHAMPTON TOWN, WE’LL GO WHERE WE WANT…………………Where’s the ground mate?” The Northampton fans were at it in the ground; “FEEDTHESCOUSERSSIGNONWITHAPENINYOURHAND!!!!!!!!!!!” Thankfully Tranmere won. Tranmere sold me a ticket for next week’s FA Cup match and I unknowingly used it to get in.

Dec 30 096

Bangor City 0 Bala Town 3
Welsh Premier League
2/1/15

Bala are ostensibly one of the best teams in the league, I obviously don’t understand football.

jan 3 007

Ashton United 0 FC United 2
Northern Premier League Premier League
3/1/15

It’s lovely to go to a match and do something socially progressive, today I donated a coat to FC United Big Coat Appeal. I’d never seen a mock-Tudor clubhouse until today. What an atmosphere!!! What songs!!! Good goals too.

jan 3 064





On mixing politics and football

1 01 2015

The parts of the internet that have held my recent attention have been full of football secularisation debate anger. Lots of angry people have been getting really angry about the fact that some people seem unable to separate politics from football. The anger has seeped out of both ends of the political spectrum.

From the primordial swamp end the massive, and politically significant, group “The Pie And Mash Squad” “think” Clapton FC should be forced out of business. The intellectual vanguard of the racist moron movement don’t like the smelly bearded leftard Clapton fans displaying “political” flags because that kind of thing is against “FA rules” or something. A quite literally massive amount of non-threatening vanguardists have consequently threatened to stage non-threatening, non-political and, above all, peaceful demonstrations until the smelly bearded leftards go home for a wash.

From the smelly bearded leftard end some followers of the club I co-own, FC United of Manchester, have decided that they’ve really had enough of that politics. The feelings on message boards and facebook groups has been coalesced in the “LOVE UNITED, HATE pOLOTICS” flag at Boxing Day’s match.

To be fair to the people that want a secularised football, there’s nothing remotely political in 22 millionaires kicking a bag or air about while 50,000 people pay 70 quid to silently consume the glorious product. Well apart from the idea that to get anywhere in football you need a set of players that works together to achieve a common goal via the principle of communally agreed roles.

On the other hand, there was this interview with the Super Furry Animals that I read more than a decade ago. During the interview the interviewer described the SFA’s position on adverts – No allowing capitalists to use their music – as “political”. The comment led to Gruff’s explanation of the band’s political position.

Gruff conceded that the SFA’s position was “political” but then pointed out that the opposite position – musicians freely allowing companies to use their music in adverts –  was also “political”. Gruff stated that when musicians allow their art to be used commercially they uphold the exploitative nature of the capitalist mode of production. Therefore musicians were acting politically by not acting politically.

Since I realised that Gruff’s idea is as applicable to football as it is to music it has been both a good comeback and the maxim that governs my outlook. Doing nothing, or being consciously apolitical, is a political act whether people like it or not,  it helps the ruling class to rule through complicity.

Some of the “Non-political political” acts football fans perpetrate include; Turning their minds off because you’re at “the football”, deluding themselves that they’re part of the “we” because of a replica shirt, buying Murdoch’s products, bantering themselves to death.

If doing nothing or acting and looking like a dick is a political act you might as well do the opposite. Here’s the XXXXXXXXX Jet Set guide to being a more political football fan.

1. Resist corporate football

Corporate football is the version of football that belongs to Gazprom, Nike, Murdoch and Blatter rather the likes of us. It is responsible for the champions league, the premier league, third party player ownership and season tickets that cost £2018.

Corporate football has thrived because people looked away. People didn’t have to believe in corporate football but they willingly chose to follow the lies, the spin and the glossy PR, as Steve Biko once said;

“The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

The first and most important “political” act a football fan can undertake is to resist the grasp of corporate football. The first step to resisting is being aware that there’s another way to “do football”. As people become aware of the other ways they will be reminded that football is tied to people and community rather than money and shiny PR glamour.

When people make the simple decision to resist everything else follows. If enough people resist change will naturally happen. The carelessness of people got us in to this situation, the righteousness of people will get us out.

2. Resist Murdoch

Buying a Murdoch media product is not a perquisite to enjoying the football.

3. Humanise other fans

Why hate someone merely because they’ve acted in the same way as you? All fans made a decision to be interested in football, all fans decided to follow a club. What’s the point in hating someone merely because their club plays in other colours? People generally live in the same sort of houses, eat the same sort of food and wear the same sort of clothes as the fans of your club.

Why regurgitate the execrable humour of Soccer AM? No-one cares that you think you can do what you want, or that you want to go home, least of all the local residents.

We need to humanise other fans by acting normally with them. To put this more simply. DO NOT USE THE BANTER. NEVER STOOP TO THE BANTER. Using “The Banter” is wrong, it turns people into morons and alienates you from your fellow fans.

Having said that there are still people that deserve contempt – comedian chanters, pricks, racists, those that tolerate corporate football – don’t hate them, they’re still humans, they can be changed.

4. Think Global, Act Local*

*This point refers the wrong sort of fans, rather than ex-pats. I think we all know what sort of fans are “the wrong sort of fans”.

Paying 60 quid for a polyester advert doesn’t bestow membership of the “we”. Turning up at the pub on a Sunday in your personalised replica shirt and shouting a lot doesn’t turn you into a massive fan of whomever. Enjoying a season ticket holder discount for the coaches and being in with the clique that controls your area’s supporters’ club doesn’t allow you to look down at the fans of “lesser clubs”.

There’s no moral superiority in standing at pub counters and shooting dismissive glares towards people that obviously don’t support a proper team or disrespecting the people from another place by dismissively labelling the area around “your” ground as a shithole.

When everything is boiled down, propaganda has been swallowed, Murdoch has been paid and local clubs has been traded for glamorous ones. Think global, act local. Have a look at the local football options and do something useful in your own community.

5. Volunteer at you local club

If you really want to feel the glow of righteousness volunteer.

6. Help organise a General Strike in football

This idea was mentioned in Issue 2 of Stand. A general strike would be a great time to be alive.

Imagine a mass withdrawal of interest and attendance. A month without fans, a month of empty grounds, empty official Murdoch pubs and disused club shops. Then imagine a second and a third month. Imagine everyone standing together, united by a common desire to make things possible.

A general strike may be a little more utopian but we can make it happen, as the Stand article told us we have nothing to lose but our chains. We can all miss a few matches for the greater good.

Political change can be easy if you want to happen.





I have a special power!

31 12 2014

Last week I watched Back To The Future, on Sunday I discovered my new superpower – I am able to watch matches from the future – I’m not sure whether these things are connected.

I went to watch Tranmere on Sunday as an unsuspecting member of the public. I despaired as an unsuspecting member of the public when two Northampton gobshites chanted “Tranmere’s shithole, I want to go home ……(Drunken pause for breath)…… We’re Northampton Town, we’ll do what we want!!” on the Rock Ferry platform. I queued up for a ticket as an unsuspecting member of the public. I casually asked “Can I have a ticket for the Kop please?” as an unsuspecting member of the public. I entered the ground for Tranmere Rovers v Northampton as an unsuspecting member of the public.

I watched the match as an unsuspecting member of the public and everything felt normal. The Rockford Files theme was played, the teams ran out, all the Northampton fans sang their risible banter. The twattish sociology from the Midlands had its comeuppance when Tranmeere won this clash of the titans. Ha ha. Like I said, a normal day.

When I arrived home I noticed something strange. I had watched a match from the future!!

On the 28th December I hadn’t actually watched Tranmere v Northampton League Two match from 28th December, I had watched the Tranmere v Swansea City FA Cup 3rd match from 3rd January 2015;

dec 31 004

I’m not going to tell you the score as all of the online betting companies have placed an injunction upon me.

I prefer to think I have a new superpower rather than consider the idea that the ticket office made a simple mistake or the turnstile operator forgot to check the ticket properly.





A few matches more

23 12 2014

Bangor City 1 Carmarthen Town 2
Welsh Premier League
4/10/14

We lost again but at least we scored. There was an Icelandic referee.

Oct 5 016

Port Talbot Town 2 Bangor City 0
Welsh Premier League
11/10/14

We lost again.

Oct 29 1835

Bangor City 0 Cefn Druids 1
Welsh Premier League
17/10/14

We lost again, to the bloody Druids, via three pieces of bad luck in 2 seconds. The ref was from Northern Ireland this time.

Oct 29 1856

Bangor City 0 Connah’s Quay Nomads 2
Welsh Premier League
24/10/14

Bangor City are thoroughly decent chaps. There are no floodlight failures when they host crucial matches involving the clubs around them.

Oct 29 1876

Llandudno Town 1 Caernarfon Town
Cymru Alliance
28/10/14

A plastic pitch in Llandudno and the Cofis lost.

Oct 29 1958

Wales U16s 1 England U16s 0
Victory Shield
31/10/14

You don’t see Wales beat England every day. People said the match would be on Murdoch’s TV, it wasn’t.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carmarthen Town 0 Bangor City 2
Welsh Premier League
1/11/14

We only won a match, a proper match, in the league and everything.

nOV 1 004

Bangor City 0 XXX XXX XXXXXX X
Welsh Premier League
7/11/14

A match happened on this evening.

Connah’s Quay Nomads 1 Bangor City 0
Welsh Premier League
12/11/14

The floodlights remained illuminated this time. Connah’s Quay weren’t losing, funny that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

FC United 2 Buxton Town 0
FA Trophy
15/11/14

A team that I want to win wins, who’d have thunk it.

Nov 15 061

Newtown 2 Bangor City 1
Welsh Premier League
16/11/14

The first Bangor match I’ve watched on telly for five years, beyond frustrating.

Bangor City 2 Aberystwyth Town 2
Welsh Premier League
21/11/14

I don’t know how Bangor didn’t win but that’s frigging football.

Dec 20 004

Bangor City 1 Garden Village 0
Welsh Cup 3rd Rd.
29/11/14

The Welsh Cup dream is alive and well, world football is happy.

Dec 20 023

Airbus UK Broughton 5 Bangor City 0
Welsh Premier League
12/11/14

We lost again, this joke is no longer funny.

Dec 20 038

Bangor City 0 Rhyl 0
Welsh Premier League
12/11/14

A match between the two lowest scoring teams in the WPL somehow ended in a goalless draw. We should have won like.

Dec 20 050








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