In the end, not bad, not bad at all

1 03 2010
Bangor City 2 Llanelli 0
Welsh Cup Quarter Final

Depending on your point of view fatalism is either an affliction that takes the fun out of everything, a mental illness, or it’s reality (life is never very good for very long is it?). If you accept fatalism as a philosophy then you also have to accept that life is pre-destined and it will arrive at a certain point at a certain time. However there are plenty of examples from history, and the Back to the Future trilogy, that provide evidence for the “Law of Unintended Consequences” . Usually I’d go with this “Law” as life never seems neat and tidy and fatalism seems like something Medieval peasants were force fed.

The pessimism of fatalism can be also be balanced by the fact that we have free will, or at least have the illusion that we can. I felt this contrast in the last week. Everybody else was saying positive things like; “Bangor will go through, DEFINITELY!!”, “We’re going to beat Llanelli, easy, easy, easy!!!”, “We’re going through again, we just have to believe.”, “We’d nearly beaten them twice already this season, third time lucky and all that”, “It was written in the stars” etc etc, so I started the week believing that too; “Yeah we’re going to win, another famous win….” By the middle of the week fatalism began to bite; ”….yeah but what if we don’t win, that’ll look really bad”….. “Yeah, our run has to end some time, it will be Saturday surely”

Despite the cast-iron evidence presented by logic and Marty McFly I really began to believe in fatalism as an idea, as if the foreboding was actual proof that untoward things will occur. I became totally convinced something would go wrong. Consequently I became extremely concerned about what we’ll lose rather than what we had to gain. The prospect of missing out on a winning hatrick of Welsh Cups along with the associated glories of a trip to Europe chilled my soul.

This morning I seemed to be free of it. I awoke calmly enough and I listened to Danny Baker calmly enough and I even journeyed to Bangor calmly enough. I was free of the foreboding’s grip!! Then the  Llanelli players turned up, then we received news of the other scores (we had a late-kick off today); Rhyl were losing, XXX XXX XXXXXX – it was all going too well. People seemed too happy; “We’ll win!!!” “Easy, easy, easy!!!!”, they confidentially claimed. I quietly worried, it was all too easy. Then we heard Rhyl scored a late equaliser, then we heard news of XXX XXX XXXXXX’s equaliser. “SEE, SEE!!” screamed the voice in my head.

Just before kick off we found that Rhyl had lost on penalties and XXX XXX XXXXXX had lost on penalties. A few minutes into the game I was up the other end, putting my flags out to help our flag day, when Llanelli’s fans surrounded me. Their songs were charmingly about HIV or something equally hilarious. Luckily I only heard the edits.  As I hung the flags Bangor were awarded a penalty and Llanelli were awarded a red card. We scored the penalty. It was going exactly to plan!!!

So Rhyl were out, XXX XXX XXXXXX were out and we were winning. It was good but then began to appear too good to be true. Llanelli then underlined the point Llanelli by not retreating by not accepting the script that I’d written. They simply pushed on and on. “SEE, SEE!!!” crowed my internal voice.

Thanks to Llanelli’s refusal to play along with my plan, the prospect of missing out on a hatrick of Welsh Cups really dawned. The thought hung like an albatross so I went into my default setting; dealing with potential each troubling moment  on a minute-by-minute basis. Every time Llanelli took the ball over the halfway line the tension rose but then each foiled attack brought relief. Each cleared corner brought relief. People bang on about Messi, Kaka, Gareth Barry et al playing beautiful football but there is nothing as beautiful as seeing your defender stop an attack before passing it calmly to a midfielder then trotting back into position. The first half passed quickly enough but my tension was high and I had to remind myself that we were still winning. Half Time and it was 1-0

It was a case of same again in the second half. Bangor played as if they were the team with less players. Wait a moment, Bangor having more players in a Welsh Cup match, how very strange!!! To be fair to Llanelli they played quite well, they tried to play football. To help ease our nerves Bangor looked to hit Llanelli on the break. The relief was immense when a Llanelli attack was stopped. It was even sweeter when the tackle led to  couple of good passes that made Bangor look dangerous.

One quick break led to a shot against a post, via a deflection. Then we thought Stotty was going to end the tension. He was through, he just had the keeper to beat, he hit the keeper with his shot. This was the pattern Llanelli attack / Bangor clear the ball and break. Llanelli brought on their Player Manager to mix things up with his trademark long throws. Rather amusingly his first act was a foul  throw.

We couldn’t relax towards the end of the match because it looked like tha match had settled into corner kick practice for Llanelli. “SEE, SEE!!!!” came the voice again. The voice was encouraged by Dick’s pessimism. Dick is an optimistic fatalist you see, we’re a broad church in Bangor. Stotty didn’t help matters, he was through but danced around the area before falling over at the wrong moment.

As I felt the need to remove my flags Bangor felt the need to score. Some teenagers then felt the need to crush me against the temporary fencing. What a bloody cheek!!! I’d never seen any of them before. The internal voice just screamed; “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!”

So Optimism won in the end. It was a victory for the human spirit, and Bangor City.

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