Pre-Season Report

12 08 2007
Due to a lack of access to a computer the Jet Set has been unable to provide its usual cutting quips and in-depth analysis. A condensed view of pre-season will have to suffice.

Mynydd Isa 1 Bangor City 2, 17th July
Bangor’s first tentative steps through pre-season brought a trip to Mynydd Isa, a pleasant place near Mold. Dewi and I passed Michael Owen’s house on the way. We also passed a couple of familiar looking joggers as we entered the estate adjacent to the ground. The joggers passed as we parked, we noticed that they were players the blues may or may not be signing. If they were signing they would be exactly the type of players we’d want, players that are willing to jog to matches.

The ground was slightly strange as a cricket pitch separated the entrance from the football pitch, the space was partly filled by Bangor’s gargantuan pre-season squad. Nev was obviously following the Champions League big four in having 2 complete squads. A welcome re-addition to the fold was the runaway truck “Big” Les Davies. Other additions were half of Connah’s Quay’s team. The kit seemed to be a little mix and match. In this era of conformist football the kit was reassuringly unco-ordinated; we had different seasons’ shirt with different combinations of white and blue socks and shorts

The match started in a very positive fashion as Bangor passed their way through the opposition. We led 2-0 at half time. It should have been more; Les could have scored a hatrick. This being pre-season I wasn’t too bothered.

The second half was a little less comfortable as Bangor failed to score any more goals and Mynydd Isa scored 1. I wasn’t worried. It isn’t really advisable for a fan to start worrying in pre-season, not when you’ve got 8 months of possible spirit-crushing matches ahead of you, of course it may be 8 months of unstinting happiness if you’re of a positive/deluded bent, I was a pessimist with a dash of optimism so a little of each made up my thinking.

Off we went, past Michael Owen’s securely locked and tree-lined driveway. He really is a man of the people. When you think more about it though, who’d want to catch a bus to the match with the likes of us. Anyway you and I would also need a lot of space to practice that pithy and charismatic interview style.

West Kirby 2 Bangor City 0, 24th July
My annual jaunt to England to watch Bangor ended in the usual manner. Merseyside called and this week our close encounters with footballers’ homes and gardens featured John Barnes, Ian Rush and Jerzy Dudek, all of them refreshingly free of tree-lined driveway meandering toward the horizon.

The ground was typically League of Wales; a fence and some changing rooms. It was free though and another to tick off on our groundhoppers‘ list. GPO, Bangor’s president, informed us that “Big” Les had injured himself in a football tournament so wouldn’t be playing, the cheek of it! Bangor’s mix and match kit was still in use. Bangor went behind halfway through the first half and didn’t look like scoring themselves, the second half would be better though.

At half time Dewi and I had a chat with Paul O’Neill, the captain, as he was warming down. What a nice chap. West Kirby scored again and again Bangor didn’t look likely scorers. This continued to be the case until several substitutions. Someone called Andy looked like he had a few good touches, after he’d come one we looked at least 10% more likely to score. Another neagtive point today was seeing a very metrosexual linesman, you know you’re getting older when the officials are starting to use moisturiser.

Buckley Town 1 Bangor City 4, 28th July
Another pre-season game, another new ground. By now I was feeling boredom travelling the A55. Luckily Dewi’s ready wit and repartee kept the journeys interesting. We arrived slightly late.

Bangor looked good and were 2-0 up by half time. The sun came out and made me overheat. Bangor scored 2 more in the second half and Buckley scored 1. Bangor looked so much on top that my attention wandered, maybe it was the cool hill side breeze that transported me away to farewawy places, or maybe it was the heat stroke. The kit situation was still the same.

Mold Alexandra 1 Bangor City 6, 31st July
Our next attendance was at an ex-LOW club. Mold looked like a nice place and it’s team was very welcoming. It all seemed homely; hand-written notices, lovingly made tea and a dilapidated stand.

This time we were wearing yellow, with what looked like hooped rugby socks. After we’d taken our places, at the end Bangor were attacking, that it became obvious we’d have to act as ball boys. After 30 minutes we’d developed a very efficient shuttle system. Bangor were 3-0 up by this point. Another goal followed before half time. At half-time we notified Mold’s programme editor with details about Bangor’s players, he seemed very grateful.

The second half heralded a retreating sun and the appearance of Sion. Sion looked good and his pace helped to set of 2 more goals. We all left contended, the season was going to be good.

Bangor City 4 Tranmere Rovers 1, 8 Aug
This result isn’t quite as impressive as it looks at first glance. Tranmere’s team appeared to be a youth team. The presence of two Tranmere minibuses on Farrar Rd indicated that it wouldn’t be their first team; modern pros wouldn’t have lowered themselves to this kind of transport. This was not only our first home friendly but it also marked a new role for me; I was now a shopkeeper! After working my way up from fan through article writer, programme editor, raffle ticket seller I was now at this stage, I’m sure if I left it a few years I’d be first-team kit man or even chief scout.

I settled in well, had some good touches (of the merchandise), confidently dealt with queries and I even conducted some tense negotiations for a swap deal (of programmes). I sold 5 t-shirts although one was to me. It looks as though my new role will mean that I’ll miss the first 5 minutes or so of each match.

The match looked good for Bangor as they showed some fluid passing football and they were 2-0 at half-time. Was this pre-season the harbinger of good times at Farrar Road? I hope it will be should be as the second half proceeded in the same vein as the first with 2 more goals.

Bangor City 3 Bradford Park Avenue 1, 11 Aug
Before this game I could have sold badges galore as there seems to be a mania for them amongst Bradford’s football fans. I sold 1 t-shirt today and £4.50 worth of programmes, I spread the peace by conversing freely with some visitors. The game was another step in the strengthening of my expectations, although the crowd was a little disappointing considering all of the much-remarked reawakening of interest in Bangor with the arrival of Nev as manager.
There were quite a few Yorkshire fans today, more than some teams from the LOW manage to bring. Maybe it was the fact that they were all wearing colours that marked them out so vividly.Bangor’s 3rd goal, from Sion, was a comedy masterpiece as the spin deceived the keeper into allowing it through his hands.

All in all it hand been a very encouraging pre-season and I was really looking forward to the resumption of competitive football. Gradually my pessimism had been worn away by the optimism, was I wrong?

Other games I went to included; Llandudno 2 Caernarfon Town 2, Caernarfon looked good in the first half but Llandudno crept back in and earned a draw with a last minute penalty. This match highlighted one detail about pre-season that’s a constant at this level; the lack of familiarity with players. This can be annoying if you see someone good and they may be playing your team in the coming season, you could have the kudos of telling everyone about him, if only you’d remembered their name. A good player on the Caernarfon side was wearing number 10. I only knew him as “Smiler”. Who says footballers can’t be ironic, he was a moaning bastard.

Llandudno 1 Vauxhall Motors 1 I left early, don’t think I missed anything, quite a few day trippers present.

Rhyl 3 FC Haka 1 I met a fellow face from Bangor and we settled down to watch the game next to the Haka fans. They appeared to be non-existent until about 5 minutes before kick off when 7 appeared. Magi and I hoped for a Haka win. I had a chat with the Haka fan nearest to me, I reassured him that Rhyl was basically a pub team. He didn’t seem convinced that Haka would win. Were Haka a tad brittle

All of his lack of confidence seemed badly judged as Haka scored. Haka deserved their lead as they were good going forward, especially down the right wing. Just as Magi and I were basking in the glow of Hka’s easy victory Rhyl scored through everyone’s favourite striker -“47 goal” Andy Moran. Just as we came to terms with this, everyone’s second favourite striker – Lee “the destitute man’s Andy Gray” Hunt scored a second. 2-1 at half time became 3-1 shortly into the second half. Unfortunately Haka looked dangerous but couldn’t score so the game ended 3-1.

Unfortunately Rhyl lost the tie on away goals. North Wales fell into a deathly hush upon learning the news. Luckily no-one had made any bold predictions about making history or having the best team ever or having the most charming fans so it would be churlish for anyone to take the piss about it.

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