Flags open doors

21 11 2009
Port Talbot Town 2 Bangor City 1
Welsh Premier League

For the second week in a row we were on a train to south Wales on an international weekend, albeit one of the egg-chasing variety this time. Needless to say the train was nearly full of red shirt wearers by the time we got on at Prestatyn. With every stop the crowd grew, especially after the rural stops. By Newport the train was one patriotic mass in their pretty red shirts.

You can’t help but  love 90 minute patriots (People who become super patriotic during a sports event.) but were these people 90 minute patriots? They weren’t on our train last week for example. “We never win nothing at football do we?” Instead of 90 minute patriots, we were dealing with 90 minute glory seeking patriots.

To put it another way we were surrounded by loads of people doing something simply because loads of other people are doing it so they simply must do it. When you add in nationalist flavour it feels a bit dodgy. On the other hand these people are only Welsh went it suits them so I won’t man the barricades just yet. On the third hand, it’s one thing to write about it but it’s another thing entirely to see it at first hand. (All of these hands are getting confusing – Ed.) 

On the fourth hand egg-chasing is truly the national religion of “the Welsh” so why am I bleating anyway, you can’t knock the herd mentality either. What’s wrong with the clank of beer bottles at twenty to 8 in the morning rounded off with the boorishness of the rugby dressing room? Everybody loves a loud party on a train!!!

Luckily we were saved by three middle-aged men. These gentlemen were what I have always considered proper rugby fans, quiet, sensible, knowledgeable, friendly. None of this moron in a red shirt business, just people that like rugby. Due to the capacity for memorising worthless trivia I was able to hold my own in a conversation about chasing eggs.

Earlier this week, just after I had bought the train tickets, I began to worry; “What if the game was called off?” It seemed to have been raining constantly for a week. The rainy conditions on the way down hardly offered comfort. We arrived in Cardiff in a litter strewn cesspit that used to be a train carriage. The drunken idiots didn’t care; “As long as I’ve got my beer ya poof!!!” Outside the station it was STILL raining a week later, shit!!

Just outside the station we were besieged and harangued by cockernee hawkers of shoddy merchandise and shady cockernee purveyors of tickets, “£50!!! 50!!!!! YOU’RE ‘AVIN A LARFF, AINT YER!!!” Is everyone in London trying to be a Delboy or suffink? An Argentine flag for £5 briefly caught my eye but the Pasty shop’s call was too insistent to turn down. It was STILL raining, shit!!

A short hop down the train tracks and we were in Port Talbot. The strain of waiting for a taxi was lessened by a friendly old person and his conversation, apparently it had been raining all week, shit!! The conversation reminded of the Cup Final in May, there are a lot of nice people in South Wales. Another nice person drove our taxi to the ground. It was STILL raining, shit!! The match was on, thank fuck!!!!

The clientele of the social club were welcoming enough and we had a nice chat with Andy Legg. Then the sodden stands called us. In order to keep our flags  relatively damp-free we sought to attach them to the wall of the stand, “You can’t do that” officialdom told us, “Put it on the seats”. I complied so I didn’t obscure the view that the corrugated iron walls had. I put it on the seats, it got wet. Thank you officialdom. None of those jobsworth bastards know how difficult it is to dry 60 square feet of polyester evenly. 

The match was pretty forgettable. We  had some possession, Port Talbot had some possession. We had 1 or 2 chances, Port Talbot had 3 or 4. I saw Sputnic whilst I was assessing the rain situation, he was in his car. He told me he’d see me in a bit. Sion tried his best down our wing but it didn’t come off, much to the amusements of the pundits seated to our left. “You’re no good, are you son?” They asked the question like they expected an answer from Sion. The second half promised rain.

We thought better of going into the clubhouse so we tried to put the flag up at the other end. The flag drew some interest and a few conversations. Speaking of flags, Port Talbot’s fans have a few but we hadn’t seen them as yet. I was just wondering about that when a bloke came over and enquired about the flag, he seem quite impressed. We were both of the same opinion, the League of Wales would be better with a flavour of the Curva. Nigel, it turns out, was the owner of Port Talbot’s flags. He assured me that they’d be up for the second half. He said we should have a pint after the game. Flags and football, the secret to making friends in this uncaring world. If only the Kremlin was listening.

The second half was annoying, we had a bit of pressure but we couldn’t force a save from the unusually calm Lee Kendall. Just when we looked like we could possibly starting to maybe force a save from the Crazy Custodian Port Talbot somehow managed to score. They somehow managed to win a penalty, which they somehow managed to score. We saw a touch of the Stade Velodrome after each goal, a giant chequered flag was unfurled. Between the two goals the enormity today’s course of events hit me, (we’d up since half 6, spent 4 and a half hours on a train with morons, been soaked by the constant rain, our team were losing and we’d just lost a player to a second yellow card) yet seeing the flags unfurled somehow lessened the blow of it all.  Just when my only enjoyment was a curt long-distance discussion with more pundits about what constitutes a foul, Bangor scored. Kendall took on his old persona after this, the prick. The score remained 2-1.

Just before we caught our second taxi, with our second nice taxi driver, we had a pleasant conversation with Nigel. We’ both agreed that we’d definitely have to do this next season. There you have it, flags win friends!!!

Just to add one more observation; drunken rugby fans waiting for trains in Cardiff Central Station are complete morons.




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