So that’s the season started then

28 08 2011
West Ham United  P Aldershot Town P
Carling Cup Round 1

Everything was alright on the Monday 8th. I walked around London, I  went to a few museums, I bought a few things, I had a bite to eat at a lovely place near Covent Garden. The evening saw a walking tour of Westminster. I had the expected “nice day”,  you wouldn’t have  known that London was on the verge of destruction.

Let me enlighten you if you are unaware of what I’m talking about. On Saturday and Sunday (6th and 7th) there’d been a bit of rioting in different parts of London. The cause was unclear but that didn’t stop our 24hr media speculating.

As I’ve already said I didn’t see any hint of trouble – although I didn’t leave central London – but when I arrived back at my charming hostel and went to the bar I was presented with another interpretation by the 24hr news channels. They opted for the sensational “LONDON WAS BEING DESTROYED” tone (Obviously I’m not saying there wasn’t any damage or that some  people’s livelihoods won’t suffer). I could see the tone of the presentation even though the sound was off; the channel  showed the same clip 3 times in roughly 15 minutes.

They were only showing one street in London out of  tens of thousands, yet their tone was “More trouble, worse trouble, look at this as evidence”. The Swedish friend I’d made at the bar agreed with my point and then  left for a “Headbangers’ bar”. Just after he left I wondered how Cameron could use the “Destruction of Britain” as an excuse to beef up police powers to make himself look like a man of action.

I read the Evening Standard on the bar. I was even more convinced the media were sensationalising the situation. The headline said:   “LAWLESS LONDON”  and the first five pages presented us with a load of pictures and hot air. “A WAVE OF DESTRUCTION”………. “BATTLEFIELDS” …….. “CHILDREN BETWEEN 10 AND 14 RAMPAGING THROUGH STREETS”.

Even with the evidence supposedly in front of me I still wasn’t convinced this was a truthful view of the situation. Therefore I tried to find all the  figures quoted for the groups of rioters in different areas. I added those  figures together and they  totalled roughly 1,500 troublemakers (I’m being generous). The biggest single group was “about 200 troublemakers”.

In a city of nearly 8 million it’s interesting to note that about 1,500 troublemakers constitutes a “WAVE OF DESTRUCTION’. In World War Two London suffered  an actual  “wave of destruction” during the Blitz. During the Blitz  1.4 million were made homeless and 40% of Stepney’s housing was destroyed. So according to the media about 1,500 young people were responsible for a similar outcome.

I received a text at 11:30 pm telling me the West Ham game had been cancelled. I checked the web and found that Charlton’s match was also off . I was rather annoyed but not surprised. At this time Crystal Palace’s match was still on so I might have a game to watch.

About 5 minutes later I realised that Platini is in editorial control of 24hr news channels and he was deliberately manipulating the coverage to portray a bad impression. Through his contacts he  found out I’d bought a ticket for the West Ham v Aldershot match and he used the tv to get this match called off.

I awoke on Tuesday 9th to find that Platini’s coverage had led to the cancellation of the Crystal Palace match as well. I scanned the internet for possibilities of a match to go to. I had one condition; the match had to be in London, or within roughly 45 minutes of London. This left Stevenage’s match, Nigeria V Ghana at Watford, and Oxford v Cardiff plus Brighton’s match. I did my calculations, a process that wasn’t helped by the slowness of the wi-fi connection, and came to the conclusion that Nigeria v Ghana was the most exotic choice. Therefore this was the right choice.

The first thing I did the following morning was to  take down Watford FC’s number. My next step was to find a payphone. The voice from the other end told me to pay when I got there. I knew I would be off to a football match when the voice at the other end assured me there wasn’t much chance the match would be called off. With this knowledge safely stored away I set about sight-seeing.

My first stop was Book Marks, the left-wing book shop, and this led me to my first exhibition of the day in the TUC ‘s HQ, Congress House. The exhibition commemorated the industrial dispute caused by Murdoch’s decision to move New International from Fleet Street to Wapping. I had a great chat with the curator and it was good to be reminded of solidarity.

I left the exhibition and immediately experienced the most eloquent example of Murdoch’s effect on the British media. Apparently I was setting foot into “Lawless London”. When I looked around, this part of  London could be more adequately described as “Lively London”. The sun was shining and the streets thronged with traffic and people. I could hear the hustle and bustle of Tottenham Court Road. In fact this area looked and felt almost exactly the same as it did the last time I was there. Then I went to the national Portrait Gallery safe in the knowledge that I was going to watch international football later in the evening.

I arrived back at the hostel at about 4 o’clock needing a drink and a seat. I checked the internet, surprise, surprise Nigeria v Ghana had been cancelled on “Police advice”. If you ask me Platini is a fan of Gene Hackman and he’s been watching “The Conversation”. I think he’s tapping the pay phones of London as well.

I thought about the police’s decision. The so-called troubles were happening  in London but the police decided to call off a match in town 20 miles from London. I can’t figure this one out totally, the only possible reason for the decision that I can think of is the police like to curtail civil liberties when it suits them.

What possible security problems could a friendly between two African countries being played  in Watford actually present? The match could have been “policed” by stewards. It just further highlights the arbitrary powers of the police and their negative view of the British people.

 I frantically scanned the internet for a game. I appealed on twitter for help. Stevenage was suggested, Oxford v Cardiff was suggested. These two choices involved too much hastle or were too expensive – it costs 18 quid to stand at Stevenage.

 I checked non-league websites. I found the Ryman League didn’t start for a week and a half, curses. I checked another website for friendlies. Conrinthian Casuals were at home again the Metropolitan Police, this was bound to be on as one of the sides was the Met. They could police the game as they were playing. The subs could act as security and then go off duty if they were  needed on the pitch, the substituted players could then go on duty on terraces. Easy!!

I phoned the Casuals, the game was off. I think their remarkably prescient poster tempted fate (look at the top of it), there was a riot.

The Casuals were in on Platini’s conspiracy. The curly French demagogue had ruined another Jet Set trip. Not even my new jeans could truly comfort me.

As I was in need of something to do and I was hungry I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone so I went searching for a nice pub. I found a nice one  just off Leicester Square. Just after I arrived a group of suit wearers arrived in order to have a conversation that was just that little bit too loud for polite society.

Just after I was forced to listen to their bullshit an idea struck me; maybe people like this had something to do with the riot. Watching them was like watching a toned down version of one of those clips of Yuppies  from the ’80s; they had the brash cockiness, they had the facial expressions of contempt the only thing missing were the red braces.

If I lived a poorer part of a city and I had to share my city with people who adopt such a nonchalant air of arrogance I might feel a little peeved about it. I might wonder why these cocky people should have all the success whereas I have to make do with metaphorical crumbs because I don’t live in the right area. Looting is never justified but you could say it was an expression of the alienation felt by people in living in a city riven by class divisions.

I’ll bet this kind of idea will be dismissed as political correctness gone mad or the effect of a liberal elite diluting traditional British values. I eagerly await Mad Melanie Phillips’s view.

Bangor City 3 Llanelli 2
Welsh Premier League

I knew there was a new season starting today because sky sports told me. I thought it was great that they are finally giving the Welsh Premier League the coverage it’s due. I wondered how they would sell the WPL. I wondered who they would get to front the coverage, who would be our very own Andy Gray?

Then I realised I my mistake, they were talking about “proper football”. Oh yes, “proper football” was starting today as well.

A friend on facebook confirmed that “proper footbal”was back. When I casually suggested that “proper football” had been back for about 5 weeks – I know this because I’d been to a “proper football” match, they used corner flags, goal nets and everything – I was given short shrift. It turns out what I had seen wasn’t part of the “proper season” (the “proper season” was “Premiership football”).  Bloody hell the country has been hypnotised by Murdoch’s media empire.

With this being the first game of the season, and televised to boot, I decided the flags were coming out. I thought the best place for them was them was the unpopulated part of the stand. Then I changed my mind as they wouldn’t be on tv very much and I needed the viewing public to see that BANGOR IS AN ENERGY.

Unfortunately I missed the start of the match because some people like to come in the shop and talk instead of watching the match. Consequently I missed the first goal (scored by Llanelli). To compound matters my flag display nearly blew off in the wind, flags were  a no-go today.

I saw Alwyn and Dave near the bar so and I thought it would make a nice change to watch a home game from the side of the pitch. It was a good view too, I may stand there more often. I managed to see Bangor equalise and several of the other chances we created. Unfortunately I also had a very clear view of a Llanelli header hit the top of the crossbar. Bangor City generally had a settled first half and this was a great comfort to those worried souls that feared the season after Helsinki.

Thanks to more unreasonable customers I missed the first 10 minutes of the second half as well. This meant I missed Dave Morley’s goal. When I was able to watch I saw City apply some concerted pressure. We managed to win quite a few corners and Llaneli’s keeper made a couple of fantastic saves too. Llanelli still offered a threat but this was a little  unfocussed. Consequently I was lulled into the worst state for a fan, a sense of security.

 This was going to be a good season ………  Helsinki hadn’t happened ……… We just keep mopping up, Pejic looks good ……….  I must say the passing’s good ……….  I like the kit, even if it has about 8 sponsors ……….. Then a Llanelli player hit an innocuous pass down the middle of the pitch ……..

Jordan Follows did that annoying “Look at what I’ve just down, aren’t I amazing” style of celebration that goes straight to the part of your brain that hates hearing nails dragged down blackboards. Football, you’re a bastard.

Eddie Jebb came on and within about 10 minutes left and within 30 seconds he unleashed a piledriver that the keeper just about saved. A couple of minutes later there was goalmouth scramble and, if I’ve recollected things in the correct manner, the next 5 seconds saw Llanelli clear the ball of the line twice and Bangor hit the post. The last few minutes was a nervous, yet exciting, period of play. It was worrying yet I was calm about it all. I was hopeful yet disappointed. I felt a bit odd.

Then the moment happened. Les headed the ball down for Kyle Wilson to stroke the ball in the last minute.

We’d won our first game and the league adventure had begun!!!

Llandudno Junction 2 Llanrwst United 1 (When I left)
Welsh Alliance

It was played, there was a bit of shouting and two long range goals. I left early to watch the Vuelta on ITV4.

Neath 2 Bangor City 0
Welsh Premier League

When the train was in Stafford I could tell there was a festival on somewhere; there were entire regiments of young women wearing the Wellies/denim shorts ensemble, just like heat magazine has told them too. One of the more depressing parts of the present epoch is the gentrification of the music festival. There used to be a time when music fans would be the only people to go but as I said earlier the past is a different continent.

Thankfully the rest of the journey only featured three other twats; a trio of “stylish” yet inexplicably rude Brummies slumming it on public transport. I arrived in Neath on time.

I’ve been asked some odd question at football matches in my time but the response of the steward to my question is possibly the oddest.

Imagine the scenario, I’m in town to see the latest chapter in “Lee ‘Magic Dabs’ Trundle and his Battle against Gravity”. As per usual I have decided to bring my flags to ensure a bit of colour. I casually asked “Can I put my flags over there?” – “over there” being an open terrace. The reply was bemusing; “Have you got a fire certificate for them?”.

Call me odd if you like but I have never thought it necessary to have the flags assessed by the relevant authority, so I replied “No, this is a joke isn’t it?”. To which the steward replied  “I’ll have to check with my superior then.”  In the end everything was normal and I could make a display.

There’s no finer image of Britain that an over-zealous jobsworth needlessly applied stupid rules as if the fabric of British society depends on what they’re doing at that precise moment. The whole thing reminded me of the time that XXX XXX XXXXXX prevented me from displaying a flag behind the goal because of  “the rules the FAW had sent them”. I remember suspecting that “the rules” had been made up on the spot by a steward puffed up by a smidgin of power. I suspected the same thing this time.

The first half was a case of Bangor not being able to  make the most of the pressure exerted. We had the clearer chances but we just couldn’t take them. Sometimes the ball didn’t bounce in the right way either; I think they may have used a rugby ball at one point. Neath had a few dangerous breaks and Idzi made a few saves as well so it wasn’t all one way traffic. Neil Thomas looks to have added something to the midfield; he was everywhere and constantly managed to apply a deft touch when trying to tackle any Neath player within his orbit. He seemed to tackle “Magic Dabs” quite a bit.

The second half was particularly frustrating as it looked like Bangor were going to score. We had a lot of pressure, we had a few chances and Mash articulated what everyone was thinking; “We gonna score, I can feel it!!!” Unfortunately a Bangor goal didn’t happen.

I’ll tell what did happen though. Neath scored two, the first of which was partly due to indecision. Lee Trundle lost his battle with gravity, Lee Kendall did his comedy villain routine to waste time and Kai Edwards entered the Llandudno Jet Set’s Hall of Infamy.

Last season Edwards brutally fouled Smithy and was then was heard to say “I should have broken his leg”. This season the chip seems to be back on the shoulder only in a nastier and more petulant style. His MO seems to be horrible little fouls and needless aggression. At one point Les challenged for the ball and knocked him over. In reply Edwards just smashed him in the knee while Les’ back was turned. Les was booked but the contemptible little shit Edwards wasn’t. He seems to constantly display the pumped up body language of a drunk teenager with an ASBO and an attitude problem. This is a shame as he’s obviously a good player.

Bangor City 1 Aberystwyth Town 1
Welsh Premier League

Thanks  to an estrangement with the worldwide web I forgot  that this match kicked off at 3:45. Hence I turned up at 12:20 ready to sort the shop out. By 12:40 the shop was ready for business. By 12:45 I was bored.

I decided a walking tour of Farrar Road was in order. By 12:47 I was sat in the Press Box and I must say it was a very pleasant vantage point apart from the view (you’re obstructed by pillars), the lack of leg room and the draught. I became  transfixed by the hypnotic green hue of the playing surface ……..

The next thing I knew it was 12:52, so I read the programme. By 12:57 I needed a new challenge. I knew what to do, I could document a day in the life of Farrar Road. By 13:05 I’d taken everything  all the photos I needed. By 13:10 I noticed the grass had been was cut in a circular pattern. By 13:15 I had blinked a few times and noticed the grass was actually cut into a stripy pattern. By 13:20 I noticed that I was right the first time, the grass seemed to be cut into a circular pattern.

At 13:21 someone walked past, at 13:22 he walked the other way, at 13:24 he walked back the first way, at 13:30 the pies and pasties arrived. At 13:40 I contemplated life’s important questions. At 13:50 I was ready for business. At 15:00 I saw my first customer of the day. At 15:40 I closed the shop to watch the match.

At 15:42 the referee signalled a change of ends. At 15:45 we were stood at the uncovered St. Paul’s end. At 15:46 it started raining. At 15:49 it stopped raining. At 15:50 at started raining again. At 15:55 it stopped raining. At 15:56 it started raining again. At 16:05 it stopped raining. At 16:15 some rather exciting match action happened but I forget what happened. At 16:25 we won a corner. At 16:30 the referee blew for half time.

At 16:50 ish the second half began. At 16:51 I missed the Aberystwyth goal due to being stuck in the club shop. At 16:55 I saw Sion Edwards volley an equaliser.

At 17:55 I struggled to work out whether I’d just witnessed a masterclass in brutality from Aberystwyth’s “players” or a tour-de-force in officiating ineptitude. Either way Bangor City had been prevented from winning a match they should have won easily (In the second half anyway)



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