Another good cup day in Aber

2 02 2008

Aberystwyth 0 Bangor City 0
(Bangor win 3-2 on Pens)
Welsh Cup 4th Rd.

Everyone had been looking forward to this trip for months. It was, after all, another Welsh Cup trip to Aberystwyth. Anyone who went two seasons ago will be able to recall an epic day; the songs, the drinking, the songs, the goal, the songs, the walk back from Penmaenmawr to Llandudno. It was one of the more memorable days of recent years.
This day promised as much. It started so well; a double seat to myself, the conversations, the questions, the anticipation growing all the way to Aber. We arrived and found a lovely cheap pub so we had a base. Over the next few hours the drinks inspired the lyricists amongst our number. A version of the Fields of Athenry was floated but only Les seemed to be taking it on. The drinking continued and more people joined us. The feeling of destiny followed them in; this was going to be our day again. Maybe this was alcohol induced but whatever the cause, it felt good.

After we reached the ground the effects of the booze wore off; I began to have doubts. In the clubhouse Les tried create a new version of “Oh Bangor Aye” and it was far more tuneful than his earlier attempt. The Ireland v Italy rugby match was the inspiration for a tasteful reworking of the Italian national anthem. It caught on more than the other song too, 5 people were singing it.
As I waited for the teams to come out I felt out of sorts, I should have been feeling a lot more confident than this. We had a good team, brilliant on occasion; we were doing better than anyone had hoped; we were in one semi already and that looked hopeful situation in that. I should have been looking forward to this but I wasn’t totally.

I saw our situation in terms of a airship making a flight; a thin membrane ensures that an airship looks brilliant and works as it should. We only needed a few injuries and our fragile hopes would end, in other word’s a small hole in the airship’s membrane and the airship’s fucked. One slip today and we’d concede then we’d be out, in other word’s a few rusty bolts and the airship’s cabin could fall off. Our dreams of Europe would be over, our passports would remain encrusted with dust. Our brilliant season hung on today’s result, in other words our airship’s journey could falter beacuse of a saboteur, we needed to stop the saboteur.
My hope returned, partially the result of singing. It always seems to help lift the team, they always seemed to respond. We kept it up for about ten minutes but it slowly tailed off, then we’d strike up again and tail off, strike up again and tail off, etc etc. My point about affecting the players’ performance was reinforced; the flow of the game matched the ebb and flow of our vocal output. We attacked, they attacked, we attacked, they attacked etc etc. Unfortunately my doubts resurfaced when Johnno limped off, his calm assurance in defence was one of the foundations of our success this season. The ebb and flow continued through ’til half time. It was 0-0 at the break.

I found the first half to be quite annoying for one reason, teenagers. They didn’t do anything wrong per se; they were only supporting their team. However hey were doing it in the wrong area. They were standing directly behind us. Every song we tried they tried to drown out. Then we had the comments and the return of comments with interest. We didn’t they go down the other end? I found them annoying after roughly 3 minutes of hearing them, they were a distraction, a dilution of my enjoyment. And then there was the drum….
If I thought that last week was uncomfortable viewing this week as far, far worse. One slip and we’d be out for sure, especially with one of our usual defensive titans off the pitch. Every time Aber attacked it could have been the moment of truth but luckily it wasn’t. The relief I felt after their shots were either saved, missed or miscued wide was great. It’s not quite the same as a gaol but it does have its own charm. We created some possibilities but only a few were clear cut scoring chances. Tension spread throughout the fans; there wasn’t much singing. There were some further close shaves but no goals. We’d have extra time.
The extra period began with us attacking the same end. Even though the golden goal rule no longer applied there is always trepidation about extra time; you don’t have much time to correct mistakes. The first period of extra time was like the second half. No singing and lots of tension. The second period of extra time was marked by more singing, thankfully. This seemed to lift the players; we created more chances in this half. Thankfully there was no duel with the teenaged Aber fans as they’d appeared to have buggered off. Before we knew it extra time was over and we were into a penalty shootout, SHIT!!!!!
We were all in the stand, united, as one we sang til the penalties were reday to be taken. Then the teenagers moved in front of us. They were between us and the pitch, wasn’t this a breach of Health and Safety or something?
Aber were up first, they scored. Limbo equalised. We cheered and jumped. Aber missed, everyone cheered and jumped as one, we celebrated, we were through. Then Sarge missed, shit!!!! 2 pens each, 1-1. Aber scored, Webber scored – 2-2, Aber missed, we shook the foundations again, bouncing became the movement of choice. Peter Hoy scored – 3-2. The bouncing intensified. Les’ hands pushed me forward. Aber missed again. We surged forward, the players ran towards us, the Aber fans could have been squashed. Like I said earlier a health and safety nightmare at the same time, a Bangor Dream.
After 2 and a bit hours of tense football to come through was blessed relief. It actually felt amazing, so amazing the fact that Wales losing to England barely registered. Then, would you believe it, Wales won too. A rather good day, all things considered.
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