The European Adventure – 2010 Edition

6 08 2010
Bangor City 2 Honka Espoo 1 (Bangor City win 3-2 on aggregate)
Europa League 2nd Qual. Rd 2nd Leg
22/7/10

It started off as a day like any other. The rain fell heavily on a humdrum town and the cold unwelcoming streets were in danger of flooding. But the Jet Set does not worry over such trivialities so we decided to leave the parked car. I reasoned that the situation wouldn’t change and we knew that we weren’t made of sugar. Within 100 yards the Jet Set was wet through and there were puddles in the pockets of our jeans. We cursed the god of weather as our trainers squelched. After another fifty yards our bones were getting damp. Then, without warning the rain eased and our walk to the station became very uncomfortable instead of bath-like, therefore it turned out better than we’d hoped for. Here endeth the Parable of the Sodden Pedestrian.

Unfortunately  the rain didn’t ease, in fact it was persistently heavy and depressing across the whole of north Wales until the afternoon. There were even fears that the game would be called off. However by the time the Jet Set arrived in Bangor, to get the coach to Wrexham, the sun was out and baking everything. Thankfully we left for the coach before sunburn.

The coach was full of optimism, or at least hope related tension. Was this a bad sign? Was it starting to feel all too easy? It was a shame that the bus was so hot and the Jet Set are renowned poor travellers – rather ironic given our name. Was the impending vomit a  bad sign?

The Turf was full to the brim with the blue army and everyone was expectant, was this a bad sign? Was it all too good, too hopeful? As confirmed fatalists it certainly begin to feel like that. Basically our hopes were on a knife edge. We only needed a nil-nil draw but any goal from Honka and any plans for further travel would be in the toilet so to speak. We talk here of the potential next match game, if we went through we would play either Sporting Fingal from Dublin or Maritimo from Madeira. Sporting Fingal were only losing 3-2 after the first leg and they seemed an easier prospect, a trip to Dublin is also easier to organise so for those two reason we hoped for an Irish win . The situation certainly looked too hopeful, a thought we were unable to shake as we put the flags up. We tried to take heart from the Parable of the Sodden Pedestrian.

The match details are sketchy because excitement took over. One thing that happened during this match was the Jet Set stumbling across a new scientific law. As we already have  a working knowledge of  advanced theoretical physics i have been able to build on the work of Einstein to formulate the “Jet Set Special Theory of Football Relativity” . The basic theory states that when  pressure placed upon your team time is retarded, yet when you need something from a match time is accelerated.

Thus the match progressed at a snail’s pace. When Honka attacked and then missed the relief was tempered by the fact that the clock was turning so slowly. The main detail we remember from the first half, apart from the usual lusty singing, was the sound of Honka’s goal audibly deflating the hopes of the fans around the Jet Set.  As the goal was scored was twenty minutes in we suffered 25 minutes of purgatory. Half Time came just in time for the retention of sanity.

The second half was much more exciting but then we didn’t take the chances that  we created, the ball flew across the area at one point but a decisive touch was lacking. About halfway through the half we thought that the chance had arrived when Les smashed the ball goalwards. Their keeper managed to save it. Never mind we thought, we thought, there was ages left and the balance of the match had turned in our favour. We remembered the Parable of the Sodden Pedestrian, we would prevail.

Then there was a cross and Dave Morley rose to head the ball, it was in!!! IT WAS IN!!!! IT WAS  A BLOODY GOAL!!!!!!!!!!! and we still had ages to find the winner. Then the moment came, a moment so fantastic it will be burned into the memory of those present for eternity. The ball was dribbled towards the Honka area and then there was a cross, something happened and then there was a shot. Then it was in, It was in IT WAS IN, WE’D SCORED A FUCKING WINNER, A WINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You saw peoples’ faces contorted in ecstasy, grown men embracing, joy was unbounded. The sight of terrace legend Mash with crying, ruddy-faced and bellowing with joy was a sight never to be forgotten. Moments like these are the times you live for as a football fan, the time when all of your hopes come true. 

The Jet Set were too stunned  to take the moment in properly (like that Liverpool fan in Istanbul – see him here at 2:40 wearing a light brown cardigan). Tears began to form as we began to comprehend what might happen a few minutes later. We’d be through, we’d be through!!! Something we’d hoped for years. But bloody hell we still had loads of time left to defend.

A minute later the whistle blew. WE WERE THROUGH!! WE WERE THROUGH!!! There was more embracing, more joy, more cheering. The emotion left it’s mark on the Jet Set, we stumbled around the terraces of Wrexham in a dazed state so evident that several people came over to tell us that “Yes it’s really happened!!!” It’s really happened, wait a minute….. Bloody hell, it had happened as well  and we were there to see it.

Unfortunately, Maritimo had got through as well but that wasn’t going to halt the joy. On the way home we had  the proof we needed for the “Jet Set Special Theory of Football Relativity”; we thought the goals had happened in the 75th and 85th minutes,in fact they had occurred in the 85th minute and injury time. Football and scientific progress all in one evening, what a night for humankind!

 

CS Maritimo 8 Bangor City 2
Europa League 3rd Qual. Rd. 1st Leg
29/7/10

For one reason and another we couldn’t make it to Madeira, here are the highlights via the magic of UEFA’s text service

End Time The final whistle is blown.
  • Goal 90+4 Jebb (Bangor City) scores!
  • Goal 90+1 Fidélis (Marítimo) scores!
  • Goal 80 Kanú (Marítimo) scores!
  • Goal 79 Tchô (Marítimo) scores!
  • Goal 78 Baba Diawara (Marítimo) scores!
  • Goal 75 Danilo (Marítimo) scores!
  • Goal 73 Ward (Bangor City) scores!
  • 73 Jebb (Bangor City) takes the corner.
  • 69 Smith (Bangor City) makes a save.
  • 68 Smith (Bangor City) makes a save.
  • 66 Smith (Bangor City) makes a save.
  • Substitution 66 Jebb (in) – Williams (out) (Bangor City)
  • 56 Smith (Bangor City) makes a save.
  • Goal 51 Baba Diawara (Marítimo) scores!
  • Start Time  The second half begins. 
  • The referee blows for half-time.
  • Red Card 45+2 Brewerton (Bangor City) is sent off.
  • Yellow Card 45+2 Brewerton (Bangor City) is booked.
  • Goal 38 Danilo (Marítimo) scores!
  • Goal 33 Tchô (Marítimo) scores!
  • 8 Davies (Bangor City) is adjudged to be in an offside position.
  • Yellow Card 7 Brewerton (Bangor City) is shown a yellow card.
  • Start Time The match is under way.

 

Aside from this lovely text, the match was available on Portuguese radio, and what a nice way to listen it was as well. The Portuguese commentary gave the match an extremely exotic feel. It was reminiscent of the 1980s when the BBC  had to rely on radio links via unreliable satellites.

Mention Portuguese-speaking commentators to anybody and they will probably utter the elongated word “goooooooooooooooooooooooolllll”. They actually do this in real life and unfortunately we could make out the word too many time today. The commentators also seemed quite impressed that Bangor  sent on a winger for a defender.when we were 2-0 down

Just after Bangor had made it 3-1 the commentators wanted to hear how Sporting Lisbon, who were playing in Denmark, were doing. Then the commentary team appeared to be providing highlights (a description of the previous goals). All very normal but then we checked UEFA’s text service and had a bit of a shock, Bangor were now losing 6-1. So, just to recap Bangor were losing 3-1 on 75 minutes, not bad, but by full-time had lost 8-2, not good. Football can be cruel sometimes.

Bangor City 1 CS Maritimo 2 (CS Maritimo win 10-3 on aggregate)
Europa League 3rd Qual. Rd. 2nd Leg
5/8/10
 
This match was rather good. The boys in royal blue allowed us to dream for about an hour. We were just into the first half when Alan Bull acted in the manner of his cousin Steve and smashed the ball in with his forehead. We only needed five more goals  and we were through!! The blue army sang and sang and sang.

Then Maritimo hit the post, then they got in each other’s way, then Smithy saved, and saved, and saved and saved again. Our visitors from the Atlantic showed a lack of moral fortitude (or to give its proper name; “professionalism”) so our struggle became a moral one. The blue are sang and sang and sang.

Emboldened by all that’s good and holy, Bangor looked fantastic on the break, the passing was sharper than an Italian suit. A free kick was stroked into the box but bisected the three in blue at the far post. Jebb tormented his full back with turn after turn but… but… but…….. It was 1-0 at half time and all to play for!!

Then Maritimo scored and then hit the post. Then Smithy saved, and saved, and saved again. Then Maritmo hit the post again, then they scored again, Smithy saved again and Maritimo hit the post again. The blue army sang and sang and sang. Their heroes in blue were not beaten yet; the giant in blue entered the fray. Martimo quaked and Bangor forced them into a hasty retreat, “Oh look they hit the post again”. Bull showed more fancy footwork and movement. The blue army sang and sang and sang.

In the 87th minute THE moment arrived. the ball sat there and Nicky Ward was there, in the area, the ball, the ball, the ball, the ball…..Went into the stand. Shortly afterwards the whistle went. Whilst we clutched our newly acquired Maritimo scarves we cheered our heroes in exultation!

 In Other Business

RSC Anderlecht 3 XXX XXX XXXXXX X
Champions League 2nd Qual. Rd. 2nd Leg
3/8/10

I have a confession to make. I don’t know why I did it and now I’m ashamed. It was probably the existential fog that pushed me over the edge.

A palpable angst filled my mind, despite going to Cefn Mawr, Porthmadog and even Rhyl I had already missed Bangor’s trip to Helsinki and now it looked like I’d also have to do without memories from Madeira as well. It was alright though I could go to Belgium.

What could I do? My brain was in turmoil. I couldn’t afford Madeira but Anderlecht were playing XXX XXX XXXXXX I could…….STOP IT……. Let’s just check the Eurostar Webs….STOP IT….. But I love Belgium and I’ve always to go to Brussels……STOP IT……Wait a minute the Eurostar’s only £40 coming back and the coach is only £40 there…..OH BOTHER I SEEMED TO HAVE BOOKED A TRIP…..Oh dear I’ve booked a trip in order to see that shiny facade called XXX XXX XXXXXX, I’m going abroad to watch the Welsh MK Dons. When you let your itchy feet overrule your logic these things happen.

I set off from north Wales with dreams of the Atomium, the European Union quarter and Hercule Poirot as a cushion for the psychological trauma. The first twenty four hours were marvellous; the Atomium was interesting, the chocolate was smooth, Le Grand Place was enchanting and the memorial on the Heysel stadium disgustingly miniscule.

Brussels has some interesting little aspects as little oddities were everywhere; Belgian Subways put pineapple on your sandwich; the Waterstones just like home, with English signs and all; monuments glorify the Belgian conquest of Africa; there’s a station named after Eddy Merckx (with a glass case that contains the bike he used to break the world hour record in Mexico); they have the fifth largest church in the world and a business quarter that looked like the set of the Matrix. They say we can tell the importance of ideas by the size of the building that are made in their honour religion, kings and dictators were all honoured in the past, nowadays the biggest buildings are connected to business. Could this be the reason why our society is in trouble?

On the Tuesday evening I disembarked from the metro wondering where the Anderlecht fans were then but as I approached Le Stade Constant Vanden Stock via a hill a buzz grew steadily louder. After reaching the top of the hill an immense crowd, filling every square inch of the street. The aroma of beer and sausage filled the air. As I drank in the proper football culture I went in through the wrong gate.

Suddenly I had a personal escort of two stewards; “C’est tres dangereux monsieur!!” opined the more intelligent one as if I’d never been to a football ground before. I was frisked by a third and deprived of two Euros for a small plastic cup of coke by a fourth, a drink we were not allowed to take in, despite the sympathy of a fifth steward. “Uefa Rules!!”

Soon after I entered the spiritual payback followed; As I stood dans le Stade Constant Vanden Stock a quiet rage descended. The first thing we noticed was the English flags; a quartered one from Telford and a white ensign from a ship that had run aground in Wolverhampton. Grrr!!!

Out of 40 ish in XXX XXX XXXXXX end there was; your humble narrator, two Cardiff fans, some blokes I recognised from Colwyn Bay, 3 Dynamo Kiev fans, 4 Germans in Belgium for the week, 6 or 7 ex-pats who worked for the EU and a bloke from the Marches that didn’t really follow XXX XXX XXXXXX but “thought he should come”. The rest were plastic legitimisers.

As the game went on one thought consumed us, anger, one question pre-occupied us – how have XXX XXX XXXXXX, the MK Dons, the Salzburg Red Bulls, of Welsh football, managed to draw another club with such a rich football culture. First Man City, then Liverpool, now Anderlecht. What the hell have they ever done to deserve this? 20 fans, 20 bloody fan is all they could manage to attract to a city that’s 2 hours from London by train. Fuck football.

(Pictures to follow)

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