The Season Starts Here!!

18 08 2007
Newtown 2 Bangor City 2
Welsh Premier League

The season was upon us. No more laughing from the players, a kit that matches and an opposition that cares. I’d been looking forward to this day since April. Although that’s not to say I don’t appreciate a football-free summer every now and again. We were off to Newtown, in a coach no less. That usually meant entertaining chat about nothing in particular all the way there, so it proved again.

We all travelled in hope. This was to be our year, the signs were there; the return of a Bangor legend as manager; a pre-season!! and a good one too; the return of Les Davies. With all these factors cosmically aligned, how could it not be our year?

Last year’s jaunt to Newtown saw us enjoying the special hospitality of one pub; they provided free food. Unfortunately this pub had been gentrified so we found another hostelry. Mash made an appearance half an hour after we’d arrived and he was wearing a fisherman’s mack. What is it about away trips and unusual costumes? Captain Bangor would probably be wearing some fancy dress props later. As the pub provided no food I made do with a cheese and pineapple roll for lunch, nice!! After I returned Mash had drawn on the coat to make it look like the away kit and went around telling everyone, it was rather amusing. Captain Bangor didn’t disappoint, this time it was a Village People Hat and moustache, they complimented Mash’s coat superbly. After a few ales we were off.

As usual the consumption of alcohol gives a very positive outlook on life, we’d win, there’d no problem about that!! Another drink in the clubhouse was followed by even more certainty, we’d win easily. I looked forward to that post-match feeling of satisfaction.

Unfortunately the players hadn’t seen fit to share in my enthusiasm at first. We looked lethargic and we gave the ball away a little too easily, mainly by hoofing it over the halfway line. The longball approach hadn’t been utilised in pre-season, why now? Newtown looked even more abject. Guess who scored first? Newtown! And guess who scored? Jiws. Something in my head fell on its side. The negative feeling was multiplied when Newtown doubled their lead, or rather we helped to double their lead as it was an own goal.

Havard, another Bangor leaver, came in for some stick, as opposing goalkeepers are wont to do. As he turned around to bite we knew he had him. Bangor still looked incapable of putting any pressure though. Having said that some of Newtown’s tactics looked just to be preventing Bangor players from running. Or to put it another way, fouling. Fortunately for us Havard dropped the ball in front of an empty net and Stotty popped in to score. Despair became hope. 1-2 HT

The second half was good from a Bangor perspective. The passing was better, the attacks were quicker and the thrills were back. A couple of half chance were wasted before Les strode through on his own. He casually dinked the ball over the advancing Havard. We looked set for a Bangor victory as we looked really good going forward. Limbert was very effective. Unfortunately the rest of our attackers weren’t effective in putting the ball away. On several occasions we were only a confident touch away from going ahead.

Newtown also seemed to be creating chances so the game could be described as entertaining. Something not as entertaining was the refereeing. Brutal assaults are part of the game but kicking the ball away is a contemptible activity, if card activity is a sensible guide to the level of offence. Les was lucky to have legs in one piece after one assault. The match finished level. 2-2 FT

Even though it wasn’t a victory there was enough hope there to keep us all going. This attitude seemed to be reflected in the faces of the blue army presented, or maybe it was the alcohol that made everyone so jovial. Mash donated his jacket (now filled by fans’ autographs) to the team. It was last seen in the grasp of Tommy Mutton, would it inspire the team?

On the way home we stopped at a rather swanky hotel near Chester and a few Bangor players plus Nev. Some of our number gleaned some details about Paul O’Neill’s departure and other club details, another reason to like football at this level. Would today be the prelude to a good season? Let’s hope so.

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