Some matches, finally!!!!

29 11 2012
Bangor City 5 Denbigh Town 1
North Wales Coast Cup

It rained rain literally. It rained goals metaphorically. Denbigh scored first. The crowd was very small. That’s about it.

Bangor City 2 Airbus UK 0
Welsh Premier League

I was a bit worried before this match. Firstly Bangor may have won in early September but Airbus presented a stern enough challenge. Secondly, Airbus had been on a bit of a run since then. In fact the Airbus players had become so acclimatised to the Welsh Premier League that by mid October they were briefly league leaders.

I felt so relieved as I travelled home; not only was this potentially difficult match out of the way but we’d earned another victory. I thought back to the first half and wondered what could have happened. I mentally shuddered. Airbus could quite easily have been ahead by half time; they’d created several dangerous moves and exerted enough pressure to win several corners.

As I remembered what happened I realised just how thin the threads of success are. What if Simmo hadn’t scored so early in the second ? What if he’d miskicked the ball, or the shot had hit the post? What if the referee had disallowed Bangor’s second goal? Before I started hyperventilating I realised that every game is like this; every game is a series of chain reactions that hang on the merest of threads. Imagine two scenarios;

Firstly imagine that player A passes the ball to player B and player C makes a clattering tackle on player B. Player C would be sent off.

Now imagine that player A passes the ball to player D instead of player B. Player C would not have been able to clatter player D because he is too far away. We must also bare in mind that player D hadn’t insulted player C three months previously, unlike player B, so player C would have left player D alone anyway. Player C would not be sent off in this scenario.

We must carry on with this scenario until the ball goes dead, after receiving the ball player D is in enough space to start dribbling with it. Player D then nutmegs player E, shimmies past player F and turns player G inside out. After reaching the edge of the area he notices that player H is off his line and almost casually dinks the ball over “the hapless custodian”. Five minutes later player E gains revenge on player D for his impudence via a clattering tackle. Player E is then sent off.

Hold on, the whole “events hang on tiny chances” thing is a complete load of bollocks. The same team ended up with 10 players in both scenarios.

Maybe Bangor were always going to win 2-0.

FC United of Manchester  0 Rushall Olympic 4
Evo Stik Premier Division
Llandudno Junction P Barmouth & Dyffryn United P
Welsh Alliance

I have been trying to go and watch FC United play at home all season but they groundshare with Bury so Saturday home matches have been thin on the ground this season. This match has been about the only one that I have been able to attend.

I had planned the trip weeks ago and I was really looking forward to my first match as an FC United member. I’d even made plans to meet an esteemed member of the When Saturday Comes message board. I was basking in the thought of how great the afternoon would be when something came up. I hate it when things come up.

I took solace in the fact that I could finally go to a live match on a Saturday again by going to watch Llandudno Junction. Just after I arrived at the ground I noticed that there was no-one warming up and the goals were leaning against the small stand. Jesus, this was the third Saturday in a row without football.

I went to the Killer, the pub across the road from the station, to kill time before my train arrived (hence the pub’s nick name). I was able to watch the north London derby and listen to some gobshites indulging in the banter. Waiting in the draughty station became a very attractive option after about 10 minutes.

Afan Lido 2 Bangor City 3
Welsh Premier League

Today’s trip was going to be great as it wasn’t just any old Saturday trip; it was a trip to Afan Lido! Last year’s trip was such a rip-roaring success that I looked for the date of the Afan Lido away the second the fixtures came out.

Everything was cool until Thursday’s biblical rain. At first I thought nothing of the rain, then a post on Bangor’s message board joined the dots for me; “With the rain down south worse than here…got to be a doubt.”  A black pall fell on my joy. After the last three weeks I’d invested emotionally in this trip to Afan Lido.

Last week I said that you shouldn’t get stressed about football but I failed to live up to my own standards a couple of days later, and a single comment on Bangor’s message board was all it took.

I went straight on the Met Office website to check if the doom-monger was wrong. At first the Met Office’s animated map proved him right, there was heavy rain on Thursday night. Bloody hell, he was right. The animation continued, by Friday south Wales had brightened up. There was a chance the match would be on! He was wrong!!! Unfortunately the animation continued. He was right, he might actually be right!; by 6am on Saturday morning the rain had appeared at the bottom of the screen. By 9am it should have moved over south Wales. It was still going to be there at Midday……… at 3 pm ……. at 5pm. There was no use denying it, he was right.

I was worried. I checked and re-checked the Met Office’s website, it was the same story every time I checked. I tried not to worry, the map was based on forecasts and forecasts were just forecasts weren’t they, they could be wrong! This thought didn’t work, I was definitely worried. I checked Soccerway for other potential matches in the area in case Bangor’s match was called off while we were in south Wales. There was Merthyr, Bristol Rovers and not much else. I needed the Bangor match to be on. I needed to watch football. I tried to believe that the match would be on, the pitch is built on top of sand so it will be well drained but paper thin belief doesn’t always help a confirmed neurotic.

On Friday I contacted the friends I have in Port Talbot, they were either silent or pessimistic. I scoured the internet looking for hopeful news and found nothing. I scoured twitter and found that Afan Lido’s Under 19 side had a home game postponed this week. I started to fear the worst. I phoned Afan Lido’s clubhouse even though I knew there wouldn’t be anyone there on a Friday afternoon. I was frantic. I needed to watch football on a Saturday, I needed to watch any football on any Saturday. After three blank Saturdays I was beginning to forget a Saturday with football felt like, I needed this trip for the sake of my sanity.

I sent a tweet to a quasi-official of Afan Lido. His hopefulness was outweighed by his lack of knowledge about the Met Office’s forecast, he told me there was “No rain ‘til Monday” Could I trust his judgement? Late on Friday evening he sent me a tweet to tell me it was raining in Port Talbot. In the end I thought “Fuck it, I’m going anyway!” At least I didn’t have the pressure of having to use a pre-booked ticket thanks to Arriva’s policy of not selling the cheaper advance tickets when there are Welsh rugby internationals. You know as if people wouldn’t want to go to Cardiff anyway.

Travelling to a match without knowing it’s on is an odd sensation. It’s the elephant in the train carriage that everybody refuses to discuss. Even the five can minimum couldn’t take the edge off nagging worries.

We could see the effects of this week’s heavy rain on the way down but thankfully there wasn’t much rain, this was hopeful. Thankfully there weren’t any weather related texts by the time we reached Hereford and as Les reminded us all; no news was good news. Obviously there was a bit of rain by the time we got to south Wales but there wasn’t enough to discourage us. There were no discouraging texts by time we reached Cardiff either. Did we dare to hope? After Cardiff we didn’t see evidence of flooding and there wasn’t that much heavy rain, we could hope!

It was raining in Port Talbot, which at least proves the Met Office had got it right. The Taxi Driver said that Lido didn’t have many games called off. There was hope!! We agreed a time when he would return to pick us up and the taxi left. We went in through the side entrance and saw that the pitch wasn’t waterlogged. Huzzah!!!! The match wasn’t off. The sight of an unsaturated pitch was both magical and anti-climactic. All that worrying was dispelled by an unannounced entry through a side entrance.

Afan Lido’s Piri Piri Chicken baguette is already the culinary highlight of the Welsh Premier League season but it tastes even better when you know you’re seeing a match. I like Lido’s clubhouse, it has that unfussed, unforced look that a clubhouse should have. Lido’s clubhouse looks like it’s part of a community, mind you there’s only one WPL clubhouse that doesn’t look like it’s part of a community.

And so to the match. On paper the match should not have presented no problem, which was a shame as it was being played on wet grass. Bangor created the first chances but they only hit the side netting or post. This action prompted five of the blue army to go behind the goal, you know in the rain.

Sion scored for Bangor in about the 25th minute. The keeper somehow let the ball go underneath him, or was it through him? Afan Lido started to apply more pressure after Bangor scored and the pressure led to a goal; one of the Lido players managed to get the ball to skid over Idzi’s dive.

During the first half there were two noises, a yin and a yang if you will; one noise was the chattiness of the Lido manager, the other was the moaning of the Lido fans. I wondered if they cancelled themselves out in a karmic equilibrium.

Bangor scored early in the second half. Brownhill launched a shot that flew parallel to the ground, a constant height of 4 inches, and went in off a post. A few minutes after the goal Bully was injured badly, he lay motionless on the wheeled stretcher as it left the pitch. After that incident the ball was everywhere and it wasn’t very comfortable viewing.

The match details are a bit hazy after these highlights, the only thing I can be sure of was that I’d lost the ability to judge time. When Lido’s keeper punched Bangor’s third goal in to the net I thought we had loads of time left but the goal happened in the 90th minute. When Lido scored their second I thought there was still loads of time left but that goal happened in the 4th minute of injury time. I had a pleasant surprise when the ref blew his whistle shortly after the well curled shot went in.

If one were grasping for a reason to explain Bangor’s victory one could not avoid the part played by Lido’s keeper. Two of the three Bangor goals were due to his mistakes and he actually punched Bangor’s third goal in. In our blame-apportioning age such a performance would lead to the keeper acquiring the label “hapless”. You know stuff like; “Here comes the hapless keeper, look at him!!!” “Oh look, the hapless keeper’s cocked it up AGAIN”. As a fellow card-carrying member of the GK Union I cannot stoop to such clichés. Let’s just say he didn’t have his best day and leave it at that.

Our taxi arrived at 4:30 and we were back off to town. I had special duties in town; the beer run to the supermarket. I know we all got home safely but there’s more haziness around the journey home.  I know that Pizza from Crewe and a bit of singing were involved somehow but I can’t go any further. I believe it was another great trip to Afan Lido.



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