Just like watching Brazil

6 11 2007
Newport County 1 Bangor City 0
FAW Premier Cup

Ever since the draw today had been something to look forward to. It was going to be a proper awayday, like in the good old days. The main reason behind this attitude was the fact that we were playing a relatively big club, in the Welsh sense anyway, Newport County. To underline the point there were going to be a few travelling blues at this one. Although only Dewi and I were on our particular the train.
There was much anticipation after Saturday, we had the team spirit, we had the desire, we had Les. We needed to win to get into the next round and possibly draw Cardiff reserves, we could do with the money. Whilst on the train I began to ponder and these second thoughts pursued my excitement, suddenly I remembered the internet. I didn’t know why we were bothering. Newport’s fans opined that we’d lose quite easily, one even suggested 6-0.

The journey down was uneventful. A midweek trip to Newport is evidently not the most popular leisure time option for most people. After a quick jaunt into Newport’s centre we found a Wetherspoons. If ever you want a social barometer this is the chain to visit. In every town they appear to be the meeting place of the local eccentrics. After 30 minutes of avoiding glances we tried to find the bus station.

Whilst in the bus station I definitely felt that we were on a proper away trip. Maybe it was the dirty state of the station. Maybe it was looking like a stranger and possible happy slapping victim. Maybe it was the memory of the coin throwing Newport fans against Swansea. Whatever the cause a slight sense of foreboding came over me.

The bus wound its way through Newport and my sense of excitement grew again, we both craned to see the haze of floolights. Every car park, all weather pitch and floodlit warehouse front gave us hope that our journey was over. In the end we had to rely on a youngster’s directions to find our required stop. A dual carriageway and bridge now separated us from the ground. The location was dark, we could be easy prey for the Newport faces, coins or no coins.

After following Dewi in I also paid a student’s entry fee. There were plenty of Bangor fans by the tunnel. Just before kick off there were about 25 of us and we had to decide where to congregate, strength in numbers and all that. We chose the terrace side, naturally the end that the blues were attacking. People in our group had noticed incredulous looks as we walked past. We started to sing, this gained a response. The tennis match commenced. “You can stick the League of Wales up your arse”; “You can stick your chariots up your Arse”; “County”; “City” etc etc. The most bizarre chant was the Newport scallies’ “It’s just like watching Brazil”, surely they were too stupid to appreciate irony. Some of our terrace wags replied with “It’s just like watching Grange Hill”, that was too much more them.

The Newport songs were delivered in a strange accent, a little bit West Country, a little bit Valleys, a little bit weird. After about 10 minutes a rumbling sound announcing the arrival of something less then friendly. The “Amber Army” had announced its presence by chanting like a tribe of n’er do wells. For 20 minutes timidity overtook me, I didn’t look to my right. I still sang along but like a chicken I used a girder as cover.
The ground in Newport is more a windy athletics stadium than a home for football. The Newport scallies didn’t seem to appreciate the irony of our songs. “The Pitch is there dickhead” was one of the more intellectual ripostes. They didn’t seem to appreciate being called English either. I felt our songs were sociologically valid. They took into account demographics and socio-linguistic trends, Newport has one of the lowest percentages of Welsh speakers in Wales.

The match was generally ok. We had chances, they had chances. Neither team scored. Jason Bowen looked very dangerous. Bangor won several corners but the nearest we came to scoring was a Webber header off the line. At one point my gaze inadvertently turned right, I saw the Amber Army in all it’s teenage glory, just like the Cofis they were swathed in Polyester. It was 0-0 at half time.

Newport seemed to have the better of the second half slightly, they hit the woodwork 3 times. Bangor had several chances from long range and the Newport keeper looked very susceptible to these efforts, the ball was obviously slippery. Stotty seemed to be feeling the effects of his bandaged hand; he held it at a strange angle. Bangor looked quite dangerous on the break. It was quite a good sign that we were still capable of playing like after Saturday’s exertions and a long trip south.

A baseball-hat wearing stranger appeared, he appeared to take exception about people chanting England at Newport’s fans and players. He began to point, then he began shouting “Shit, Shit, Shit” at several of us. Fortunately a conversation broke out and a couple of minutes later he wandered off talking on his phone, was he setting up a “off” for after the match?

A short while afterwards we recommenced our singing and a Newport urchin took his chance to build a rep, he stood in the middle of us with his scarf held aloft. The scarf resembled an early 1990s Wolves scarf from the back. He didn’t grasp thrust of the joke and turned around to correct us. A steward encouraged him to move and the lad was a hero to his mates, such is the nature of fame nowadays. The match looked like it was petering out into extra time and this was a disturbing thought for Dewi and I, the train was due to leave at 9:10, the match (sans extra time) was due to finish at 8:45, in short we would be was pushing it. Unfortunately the gods smiled on us, there was a goal in stoppage time and Newport scored it. The Amber Army turned to jeer.

They continued to jeer as we congratulated the blues on their efforts. We continued singing the praises of the team as they congregated to our left. Someone made the fatal mistake of shouting at them. Three came speeding towards us wanting to “’ave it”, unfortunately I didn’t see the finer details of the metaphysical debate that ensued; I was ordering a taxi. We were escorted out of the ground. Fortunately we made the train on time.
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