The start of something new

24 02 2012
Bangor City 6 Caernarfon Borough 1
NWCFA CUP
24/1/12
 
Bangor City 1 Wigan Athletic XI 2
Friendly
28/1/12
 
Bangor City 2 Prestatyn Town 1
Welsh Premier League
4/2/12
 

After the destruction, the trepidation, the waiting and the gossip the time had arrived. Yes THE time was finally here; the new ground was ready!!!  Even with a decade of preparation this time had arrived in a sudden rush.

I spent the weeks leading up to the first match in Nantporth jumping mental hurdles, I’m sure most fans about to go to their clubs’ new ground are the same; “It took me years to get used to the last ground, am I going to like this one?”  “How will it feel?”  “Will we have the same essence?”  “Will it have the same spirit?”  “When will I begin to love the new place?”  “I can’t love a place with pristine seats, can I?”

In my head I could hear north Wales’ freelance experts in amateur psychology (opinionated local football fans) prescribing me a dose of immersion therapy as the cure for these emotive problems. “You need to grasp the nettle, confront your demons, snap out of it, blah blah blah”.

These odious loudmouths always think their brainwaves are the service that humanity needs but I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the hectoring voices in my head. I met their tones with a big “Fuck You”. North Wales’ chuntering classes weren’t going to stop me with their advice about grasping metaphorical nettles, or the application of metaphorical bay leaves.  I wasn’t going to let half-arsed loudmouths push me about with their petit-bourgeois crap, no sirree. I had it all figured out, my case of ennui didn’t need those fuckers.

Unfortunately my self-administered therapy only involved looking at the photos of Nantporth’s development. It didn’t work. I needed something else to salve my anguish, maybe I needed to go to Nantporth, maybe  all I needed was to spend time in new surroundings, could the loudmouths actually have a point?

I must say that after I actually grasped the nettle by setting foot in Nantporth my worries subsided a little. Mind you I’m not going to let the thoughts of the hoity-toity chuntering classes take all the credit, before my first visit to Nantporth  I went to Farrar Road to take some photos of the demolition of  Farrar Road. After this I realised there was no alternative.

Just because their approach seemed to work I’m not saying “follow the know-it-alls” but If you’re ever in the same situation you might like to try a little immersion therapy. If you are ever in the same position it’s probably a good idea if you don’t take photos of the destruction of your clubs’ cherished old ground, just give in to progress and be done with it.

Although the emotional side is the biggest hurdle it’s not plain sailing after you’ve started to deal with the emotion. You also  have to confront practical issues; “What’s the best way to get there?”  “How long will it take to get there by foot?”  “Where will I stand?”  “Will I be able to avoid the moaning gets?”

The first two problems were the easiest to solve, and it only took three trips!!!! The journey from station to Nantporth involves a 3 minute car journey or 20 minute walk whichever route you take (through upper Bangor or over upper Bangor). Unless it’s raining Shank’s pony is the healthiest and prettiest method.

I haven’t quite solved the next practical issue as I’m not quite sure the place from where I want to  watch matches.  I had quite a good view from behind both goal but one of the main problems with uncovered ends  is rain and it rained during two of the matches .

The historic first match against Caernarfon was played in a mist of drizzle and mist. I stayed behind the goal because the atmosphere was good. I put the atmosphere down to the festivities. It rained heavily during the Prestatyn match and again there was a good atmosphere. I liked the way the atmosphere of Farrar Road seemed to have survived the move. Although it must be said the same people that went to Farrar Road were now in Nantporth.

It wasn’t just the retention of atmosphere that I noticed from my behind the goals vantage point a lot details became evident as well; the squeaky Simpsons teenager voice used the Cofi keeper, the sly fouls of certain Prestatyn players, the Wigan Athletic  players drink Wigan Athletic mineral water. The view was generally unimpeded.

I also sampled the view from the smaller of the two stands (on the opposite side to the main stand). Watching the match from there was a bit “meh”; the view was alright – if you discounted from the areas obscured by the TV gantry –  but I didn’t really feel anything extra. The smaller stand is unfinished, when it is finished it will run the length of the pitch.

I finally made it to the main stand during the Prestatyn match. Not only was the main stand my saviour from sodden clothes it provided a wonderfully panoramic sense of the developments on the pitch. From high up I could easily sense the flow and ebb of movement, I could see how Bangor’s players made things fit together, I could see the way the players interacted with the ball, with each other and with the  space. I couldn’t believe that simply standing above the play would make things feel so different. It was such a revelatory feeling that I didn’t even notice when the floodlight pylons sometimes obscured my view, I may make this  my regular viewpoint.

Although we were far enough away to sense a real sense of skills being shown we were close enough to see all the action on the pitch, close enough to hear the odious stupidity of Dave Hayes, Prestatyn’s moronic centre back.

We may have a new home ground but we continued playing with the fluency that marked the games in December and January. Bangor played some great stuff in all three matches and in truth we should have remained undefeated. There were a couple of defensives lapses but the flowing moves and general action more than compensated for those setbacks.

There were lots of positive things about the new ground that gave hope for the future; a clubhouse that can be used for many events and to finally display Bangor City’s rich and vibrant history, the PA system that goes “BING BONG!!!!!!”, the large amount of parking. Before I go any further I must warn you about the PA system, if you stand too close to the speakers, the “BING BONG!!!!!” is akin to hearing the scratch of nails down a blackboard, it manages to hit the mainline to your central nervous system .

Nantporth may be new but there is an impressive sense to it all, a sense that may have been lacking a little at Farrar Road if we’re honest. Nantporth certainly looks impressive when you pull up to it. The watchword with Nantporth is potential. We could have something fantastic in years to come. Indeed there are great development plans already in the pipeline – the community-based 3G pitch, the development of covered terraces, the finishing of the other stand – so we can touch the fulfilment of potential already.

I hope it stops raining soon.

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