I like Glasgow!!

26 07 2012

Here are some photos from my trip to Glasgow on Tuesday.

Bangor City’s 50 European Years! – Part Three

21 07 2012

Here’s the concluding part of our colourful journey around the Jet Set’s archives; the away programmes!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bangor City’s 50 European Years! – Part Two

20 07 2012

And now for the second part of our colourful journey through Bangor City’s colourful European history; the home programmes;

Bangor City’s 50 European years! – Part One

19 07 2012

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Bangor City’s first ever European match.

I would have celebrated City’s glorious European history by collating a list of our opponents or collecting all the available match action together in one post but I did that last year.

This year I thought I’d celebrate Bangor’s milestone by showing a few colourful exhibits from the Llandudno Jet Set’s football archive. Consequnetly here are some pictures of match tickets, please note the various home venues.

Bangor City in Europe 2012

15 07 2012
Bangor City 0 Zimbru Chisinau 0
UEFA Europa League

There was something odd about this draw; Bangor City were seeded. I’ll repeat that; Bangor City were seeded. Yes you heard it right Bangor City were seeded for a European draw.

The enormity of this fact still hasn’t sunk in, bloody hell we were seeded. This kind of thing doesn’t happen to us, big clubs are seeded, not Bangor City. The really weird thing is that Bangor City (280th)  have a higher European ranking than European aristocrats Honved (282nd).

Anyway as we were seeded we could have drawn any of these clubs; Zimbru Chişinău, JJK , ÍBV,  Portadown , Gandzasar, La Fiorita.

We ended up with Zimbru, this was quite annoying because they were the fourth highest unseeded club. We didn’t know much about them but as they were from Eastern Europe you can take it as red they will be skillful, damn!!!

If only we’d drawn Portadown!!! Bangor fans would have had more confidence with these opponents; we’d drawn 0-0 with Linfield, the perennial Northern Irish champions, on the Saturday before this match. That trip would have been far easier to organise too.

As the match was Bangor City’s first European home match in Bangor for 14 years the anticipation was understandably great. Consequently the match was a sell out. The sun was also out and this was blessed relief during the “worst summer in living memory”. Was the sun shining on Bangor in a spiritual sense as well?

Well only partly. They could have scored a couple, they also hit the woodwork. We could have scored a couple, we also hit the woodwork. These pictures tell a more adequate story than my words;

Zimbru Chisinau 2 Bangor City 1
UEFA Europa League

There was plenty of hope that Bangor would be going through to meet Young Boys in the Wankdorf. I relished my potential European trip; Switzerland wasn’t too far away, flights were cheap. I was quietly confident. I would have been loudly confident but none of my workmates were interested.

Everybody’s confidence centred around a single idea; considering Zimbru were a professional team they didn’t look that good. They’d also sacked their manager after the draw in Nantporth because Bangor were a semi-professional team. It looked so good!

Many Bangor fans weren’t able to go so a bar, RJ’s, was kindly showing the match via a satellite feed. Loads of people were going to be there. I would go as far as to say that I was very excited by the match. It was going to be another glorious chapter in our club’s European history. Yes, I was so excited by it all.

I was so excited by the prospect that went to a meeting in Llandudno instead of going to RJ’s. In my own defence I must say that I didn’t know I was organising a meeting for the same time of the match when I organised the meeting. The situation became even worse when the meeting went on longer than I was expecting and I missed the start of the second half. I phoned Alwyn at 6:55, there were about 20 minutes left.

Alwyn dropped the bombshell; Bangor City were losing 2-1. I hadn’t seen this coming, especially when I thought I heard cheering on the other end of the phone. As the conversation went on I realised my plans for Switzerland lay in tatters. Alwyn tried to sound hopeful, he told me that we were unlucky to be behind but I just knew it wasn’t going to happen. Alwyn promised to text me when the final whistle went.

By 7:15 there had been no text.

By 7:20 there had been no text.

By 7:25 there had been no text.

What did this mean, was it good or bad?

At roughly 7:30 the text arrived. We’d lost 2-1.

On the bright side, now that we’ve lost next week’s trip to Colwyn Bay is still on. Hurrah!!!, and indeed Huzzah!!!, for that.

On the continent special – 2011 edition – Photos Part 2

30 07 2011


On the continent special – 2011 edition – Photos Part 1

28 07 2011

On the continent special – 2011 edition (Or…….The week that social networking sites made possible)

28 07 2011
Bangor City 0 HJK Helsinki 3
Champions League 2nd Qualifying Round 1st Leg

Thanks to UEFA’s corrupt dealings a fortnight previously this tie had become a mere unwelcome intrusion. With time and logic my mind was at  peace.

Sadly turmoil resurfaced in  a  battle between the positive and negative parts of my mind. First there was a chance I could still see Bangor away, then there wasn’t, then there was, then I didn’t want to go. Then those Honka bastards won in Estonia.

Then I thought “Sod it, I’ll go to Finland anyway“. Next stop Rhyl!!!

It felt quite odd to be in Rhyl on a July Wednesday evening but a couple of drinks sorted my confusion. Thanks to twitter I had a loose plan to bump into  a couple of people; 1the man behind European Football Weekends and someone from the When Saturday Comes message board. I waited around the assigned location of the meeting, the  Vegas bar, but I didn’t notice any new faces. In fact there weren’t as many of the usual faces as usual but this was due to a delayed train from Bangor. At about 5:15 I left for the ground to try and sell some stuff.

The ground was alive with people, including some flag carrying dudes from Helsinki. ‘Twas a great day to be alive!! Bangor City were in the European Cup, the sun was on our faces and victory was in our hearts.  Unfortunately Litmanen wasn’t present which was disappointing as you don’t get many chances to be that close to football legends. It’s rather sad to think that I’ve seen Robbie Savage play.

In the first half Bangor were doing ok until the combination of  a defensive slip and a failed offside trap enabled HJK to score. This was rather dispiriting as the club that tends to score first in Bangor’s European matches tends to win (most of the time it’s not Bangor City). Fortunately Bangor City weren’t finished and attempted to push HJK back. Unfortunately we only had a couple of dangerous shots on target. When half time arrived things were still hopeful, we just needed a good start to the second half.

The second half was excellent for the first ten minutes. We had the pressure, we had the possession, we looked like could do something, unfortunately we didn’t have many shots and most of the time the ball didn’t seem to bounce in the right place. HJK didn’t look light years away from Bangor, they just seemed to be more clinical with scoring opportunities. For example  HJK’s second goal was a scorching breakaway preceeded by ten minutes of constant Bangor pressure.  The fact that HJK didn’t look that fantastic meant the blue army still held on to the embers of hope for next week.

The match wasn’t just frustrating because Bangor hadn’t turned their possession into a goal or two, three characters – number 11 Mathias Lindström, number 17 Dawda Bah and number 19 Aki Riihilahti – sullied the evening,. These three have been added to the Jet Set’s list of infamy. (Present members; Martyn Naylor, Lee Hunt, Neil Gibson.)

The first one that came to my attention was the rather precious Bah, he seemed to be a bit of a player but clouded this idea with his antics; he got into such a tizzy lecturing Bangor players for attempting to tackle him he forgot he was a dirty bastard, he also got so worked up while castigated Bangor players for “diving” he forgot he liked to win free kicks. I cursed his soul.

Lindstrom was a masterclass in defending, if you like the cynical violence style. A push in the back here, a nudge here a full frontal assault there. At one point he literally dragged Les from the pitch just before a corner was taken. Then this fucker laughed about it. I cursed his soul.

As for Rihiilahtii, he tried to sexually harras Les at every available opportunity. He was literally  all over him and when I say literally all over I mean LITERALLY ALL OVER HIM. At first I struggled to recollect his vaguely familiar face. It was the assassin’s smile that reminded me that this fucker used to play for Crystal Palace. I checked Dylan’s programme, he was Aki Rihilaahti, and to think I nearly went for a drink with him in Aston Villa’s player’s lounge ( it’s a story that’s too long and tedious to recount). I cursed his soul.

Unsurprisingly UEFA’s bent ref failed to see any of this nefarious activity.

Just before we left Rhyl FC they remembered that Bangor fans were scumbags, therefore  we had to leave in the manner of Andy Dufresne; via a narrow alleyway next to an open sewer. What a charming way to treat visitors.

For an excellent, and  less partisan, view of the day read  European Football Weekends.


XXX XXX XXXXXX X FC Midtjylland 3
Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round 1st Leg

A match happened this evening.

When the draw threw these two clubs together it appeared to be the perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with the Black Wolves. (Bangor City fans and the Black wolves developed a bit of a friendship when we played each other in 2008.) Fate was on my side as well, during the week before the match Hekler (one of the main faces in the Black Wolves)  got in touch via Facebook. My doubts about giving XXX XXX XXXXXX money evaporated in thoughts of comradeship.

I was looking forward to a trip to Wrexham until I checked the match details and found it  was due to take place in the Marches, another sign Platini is conspiring against the Jet Set! Well big sweaty bollocks to UEFA I was still going to go. I made arrangements with Hekler; we would meet near the XXX XXX XXXXXX five-a-side pitch with country club accoutrements.

Thanks to the staff of Arriva Trains Wales, those unsmiling bulwarks against anarchy, I missed the train. Despite my entreaties about missing a train to a very, very important  football match the man with a heart of purest granite refused to let me pass. I promised to buy a ticket on the train but Mister “I don’t make the rules” wouldn’t have that. There’s just no trust anymore.

I finally arrived in Gobowen, down the road from XXX XXX XXXXXX, 5 minutes before kick off. My taxi driver was dissappointed the FCM fans were less numerous than the hundreds of Irish fans that had used his services. He continued wittering until I told him I was Bangor fan, whereupon he was struck dumb. The anti-Bangor omerta over Shropshire was obviously biting hard

Park Hall thronged with three empty sides, all I had to do was find Hekler and the boys in the vast crowd. I put on my honourary black and red Black Wolves scarf  and sashayed past the admiring glances of the bovine masses in the temporary stands. I saw the envy in face after face.

I eventually found Hekler on the front row just past the halfway line. There were 4 FCM fans and they were all very friendly. Hekler’s welcomed me with the international “Where the fuck have you been?” shrug  and we settled down for a pleasant chat whilst the match passed by.

FCM seemed just too good for XXX XXX XXXXXX as their speed, movement and skill wasn’t impeded by the plastic pitch. Some notable Welsh Premier board posters hoped this wouldn’t happen. Hekler told me that FCM  play on plastic all the time in training so it wasn’t a surprise they were comfortable. The half time score was 0-0. Half time meant a few beers with the Black Wolves and it was good to spend time with people from far away whilst pursuing a common activity.

The second half was more of the same; FCM in general control while XXX XXX XXXXXX offered a threat from occassional bursts forward. XXX XXX XXXXXX supplemented these original threats with some set piece work, which was this avenue by which they constructed their goal. A corner led to Steve Evans heading the ball home. This wasn’t meant to happen and I could see that a bit of tension had developed in the shoulders of the Black Wolves.

It turned out that we only had to wait five minutes for the equaliser and a few more minutes for FCM’s second. FCM scored a third just before the final whistle. The goals made me feel distinctly better. Nobody really like seeing XXX XXX XXXXXX win, even their fans secretly realise each victory is a football crime.

After the match FCM’s players came over to say hello, I even had a few high fives!!! We all entered the Venue for some strange looks and a few beers before I made my excuses and left in another taxi. It was nice to know that football can bring people together.

HJK Helsinki 10 Bangor City 0
UEFA Champions League 2nd Qualifying Round, Second Leg

As you may know I wasn’t able to go to this match. But I didn’t let a small detail like this stop me from going to Helsinki.

Postmodernists have told us that “pseudo-events,” are  common occurrances. The Heysel Stadium Diaster, the Gulf War and September the 11th didn’t happen per se, even if we watched them happen on the news. Postmodernists tend to say that we don’t actually watch events happen, we watch representsations of events, stuff that looks like events; “pseudo-events“.

The educated amongst you may dispute these ideas becuase they sound like a load of crap or meaningless gobbledigook. The more charitable may limit their praise to the fact these ideas helped The Matrix to come to fruition.  I certainly doubted postmodern ideas until today, now I see that the ideas are very plausible.

First postmodernists tell us that meta-narrtives no longer explain the world. They tell us that each person’s version of reality is as valid as the next person’s view of reality. They are right!

My first act in Birmingham airport to find a computer. I then paid a pound for 10 minutes of internet access in order to read one line updates on UEFA’s website.

At the same time as I was reading a computer screen other Bangor fans were in Helsinki watching Bangor play. Who could decide  which group of fans (me or them) was having the true football experience? Weren’t we both doing the exactly same thing on one level? We were both hoping a short match incident would bring joy. I let the surreality of this situation slide.

I knew potmodernism was right, I just knew it. I mean If I couldn’t take heart in postmodern ideas how the fuck am I menat to explain this all to myself and retain a degree of sanity? I’d have to pretend that I was sitting in FUCKING BIRMINGHAM AIRPORT READING ABOUT A FUCKING MATCH THAT I SHOULD HAVE WATCHING IN THE FUCKING GROUND, PLATINI YOU’RE A FUCKING CUN……………….

Then the moment came, the 29th minute of the match according to UEFA’s match text, and I realised that the postmodernists had the monopoly of truth. A single line was the clincher;

29′ – Hoy (Bangor City) makes a save.

This line was the clincher because, as you know,”Peter Hoy Football Genius” is a full back.

After reading the line I couldn’t feel the match any longer, I couldn’t visualise the stadium, I couldn’t visualise the crowd, I couldn’t visulise the corrupt refereee, I couldn’t visualise the bounce of the ball, I couldn’t visualise anything, I had no way of knowing if the match was happening? All I had was only a representation of a match, a match via the cypher of a typist’s imagination – I was in the middle of a “pseudo-event“.   When I left, to check in, the score in the “pseudo-event” was 0-0.

Unfortunately I was 20 minutes too early so I had to visit WH Smith to kill time. I was suddenly surrounded by instructive books and with 20 minutes to spare I owed it to myself to develop my personality. Before I knew it I had killed 23 minutes, forgotten about the treachery of Platini and developed my personality.
I say “developed my personality” so flippantly but this skeleton of a phrase doesn’t do justice to the period of self-development I went through; Yes!!! Today would be the day I would change myself (or at least by tomorrow, when I’d changed my socks). I knew that I had to change my leadership style. I was now on the road to blu-sky thinking, the road to becoming a faciliator / caretaker / Jongleur.
After reading another philosophical opus I knew that I could  make changes like a “The Boardroom Tiger” but I still needed the vision of “The Workfloor Osprey” and  the wise direction of “The Car Park Owl”. On the plus side I now felt able to delegate, legislate and fornicate at the same time. I could survive and thrive!!! I was a Tiger!!!!!!! ROOOOAR!!!!!!!!!!
Just after I’d developed emotionally I had to check in, sadly the strain of removing my belt before the almighty security scanner meant my new found business acumen disappeared as quickly as my dignity, and my share value fell quicker than my trousers, now I knew why Gordon Gekko wore braces!!! (although they would have to have plastic clasps to make it through the security gate).
The carbonated drinks industry and Platini are obviously behind the ban on taking more than 100ml of liquid in your hand luggage. My unopened bottle of pepsi was considered so offensive it had to be surrendered. In the strain of all this I forgot I was a Tiger, I was a dormouse yearning for another overpriced internet terminal.
I found one and my heart skipped a beat, I logged on in the hope that Bangor were 2-0 up. The screen decided to tell me that Bangor were losing 8-0. Then I remembered this match was a “pseudo-event” and it wasn’t actually happening . However my habitus as a football fan predates my postmodernist epoch so I remained logged in until the end of the “pseudo-event“. By the end of the “pseudo-event“, it appeared that Bangor City had lost 10-0.
Even though I knew this was a “pseudo-event” other people had been hoodwinked into believing this was a real event. The message boards hummed; “Ha ha ha Bangor are shit” they said, “This is the worst day for Welsh Football ever” they said, “Bangor, you’re an embarrassment” they said.
If only the poor saps knew they’d been hoodwinked!!!
FC Honka 0 SK Hacken 2
Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round 2nd Leg
Aeroport Charles de Gaulle may be many things but it’s not a place to spend the night. There’s no absolutely no light relief; No shops are open, no change machines are available, the only entertainment is walking past the same disgruntled would-be passengers every 20 minutes. The authorities won’t even let your imagination flow as they turn off the departures board. The only thing you can do is wait for madness to take hold.
I tried to obtain change but my polite  requests for change were usually met with a shrug of condescention, when I found someone behind a desk that was willing to help they gave me a 10 franc piece as part of the change, Euros had only been legal tender for nine years.
For the first three hours of my stay the only thing I had to occupy my mind was guessing the cause of the crack in the pane of glass that faced me, and the thoughts……
When this became boring I began to bet against myself. I wondered which person would walk past next. I was right 3 times!!!
 I thought it prudent to sit near people but unfortunately the seats I picked were near a snack machine. People taunted me with their copious amounts of change, the elusive bounty of the machine glistened, taunting, silently taunting. I looked at the clock, there were only 6 hours until my flight
Then I hit upon a novel idea to pass the nightime, I would try to fall asleep!!!!!! This is harder than it sounds in an airport where bench armrests prevent comfort. Even with the armrests my plan worked beautifully until a couple of rough shoves  awoke me. I slowly awoke to find 4 thick set policemen.
The  most intellectual flic asked the dealbreaker; “En Vacances monsieur?” Luckily my startled brain rememebered enough GCSE French to produce a passable answer; “Oui monsieur, Je vais au ‘elsinki parce que le grand connard Platini est un grand connard”. Halfway through my answer they’d seen a gentleman of north African extraction lying on the opposite bench. They thought putting the fear of God up him would be more satisfying.
This was probably the most unsettling 10 minutes I’ve ever spent; The whole quartet glared at a fellow human being as if they’d just trodden on him in the summer sun and he was smelly. It sounded like the head Policeman didn’t trust his story. He checked with HQ, HQ  called back, he asked the confused guy more questions and then checked those answers with HQ. The tone was very threatening. Then they just left, as if their Pizzas were now ready. The look on the man’s face said it all; resignation. If ever ten minutes could partly explain scoial problems in a country this was a good example.
…………………… Platini’s plan worked; I had forgotten my name, I had forgotten the Ipcress noise, I had forgotten the Ipcress File, I had fogotten why I was in Paris …………….
Anyway, I still had 5 hours to kill in a closed airport………….
Somehow I made it through with 20 minutes of sleep, warm thoughts of cold Helsinki hospitality and drunken Bangor bonhomie helped immensely. I touched down in Helsinki just in time for the Finnair bus to leave without me.
Helsinki was very warm, all I needed was a warm Olympic Stadium hostel welcome, a cold shower and socket to recharge a phone. For most of the way to the hostel I thought was safe in the knowledge that last night’s match was a “pseudo-event” and not a football match.
I arrived at the hostel in a state of shock, on the last stretch of the walk to the hostel I had walked past the Sonera stadium – HJK’s ground – as it sits next to the Olympic Stadium. This was very upsetting. I suddenly remembered that I should have been there to watch Bangor, In fact I was going to be there until that curly prick Platini intervened.
After a cold drink and a sit down I remembered that yesterday’s match was a “pseudo-event”. The combined effect of tirdeness and stress upon the mind is terrible.
Unfortunately I became unsettled again, just before I entered the hostel I thought I had  noticed the car of the Bangor fans that were supposed to be staying in the hostel (they had spent the last three months travelling around Europe in it), for a second I comforted myself that it was a hallucination but there was an unmistakable Bangor City car sticker in the back window. I tried to find my friends but they weren’t in the hostel and he person on the front desk hadn’t seen them, had I actually seen the car?
As I was getting ready I noticed that Cabs had sent me a message. I was to meet them in “Henry’s”. All I had to do was take a “3 or 4 tram” and get off by “the station’. There only problems I had were that I didn’t know the location of the tram stop, the station or the famous Henry’s.
After 30 minutes I sent out like De Gama. I found the tram stop, I found the station, I found the famous Henry’s. My only problem was that I  couldn’t find anyone I knew. Jesus, Platini had even hacked my phone to give me false texts. I began to think the whole idea of Bangor playing in European competition was a “pseudo-event“.
Without many other option I walked the streets of Helsinki to drink in the continental atmosphere. During my promenading I found evidence that  the “pseudo-event” was actually a real event and Bangor had actually lost 10-0, which was a bit of a shock I can tell you. Of course this  “pseudo-event” could have conned the Finnish tabloids too. I would continue to believe that Bangor had lost heroically on away goals until I saw someone from Bangor.
I noticed that the Finnish tabloids went to town over Bangor City. One screamed 10 -0 on the front page of it’s sport pullout. The other seemed to make a big thing about the Bangor players being in a pub after the match. This seemed a bit of a shitty thing to do but that’s tabloids for you and they seem to have a morbid fascination with Bangor City being Pub Fatties in Finland. I continued my walking tour in a daze.
I must say that they do like bricks and wood in Finland. My reference point for Helsinki was the film “Billion Dollar Brain” so I tried to find the main landmarks associated, I found the big catherdral upon whose steps Karl Malden and Harry Palmer have to shoot a spy. I found the department store where Harry Palmer bought some snow shoes…..
When I finished this whistle-stop tour I managed to find a pub showing le Tour de France, which was a first for me. I could have watched snooker in another part of the pub.  Finland was certainly a groovy kind of place.
As I made my way to the hostel in the Olympic stadium I saw there was a match taking place on the pitch next to the Sonera Stadium, HJK’s women’s team seemed to be playing against another club. Then I remembered that the Sonera Stadium was the ground that I should have been watching Bangor play before Platini stuck his oar in. By scheduling this match Platini was taunting me, really rubbing my nose in the dirt.
I scanned the sparse crowd and saw my nemesis there, unrepentent and aloof in his unmistakable suit and curly wig. I could hear his actual taunts delivered in a voice like a velvet mace;
 “I don’t know wh-at zee pwoblim is Monsieur, you wanted to watch a match in ‘elsinki on this day, the too-wenteeth of Jooo-ly. Well ‘ere you are monsieur, hee haw hee haw he haw haw haw, ‘ere is a match……. Zat’s what you get for standing up to Platini, mwah mwah mwah, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha”.
I decided a lie down was prudent, Hitchcock was directing my life.
After my lie down I found the owners of the ethereal car and the joy was indescribable. Before long we were all off in the direction of Henry’s to meet the rest of the Blue Army. Unfortunately the rest of the Blue Army confirmed that last nights match was not a “pseudo-event“.
Everyone seemed happy that I’d made it anyway although they were a little concerned that I’d gone missing; somehow everyone thought I had arrived last night. Thoughts of conspiracies and revenge  were well dulled with litre cans of lager and a lovely local brew known as a “Long Drink”. The next thing I remember is waking up at 2:30am just as the tram was coming to the end of the line. One of two things had caused this situation; either I was a little drunk, check, or Platini’s agents had spiked my drinks. By the way, have you noticed how all buildings start look the same after an hour’s tired staggering?
Thursday meant “Honka protest day”. The flag was ready, the stickers were ready, and I’d had 3 hours and 20 minutes sleep in two days. Those FC Honka fuckers had ruined my summer so I was determined to go and support Hacken.  Just after Alwyn and I bid the blue army a fond farewell we had time to kill. The remaining members of  the blue army (Alwyn, Alex and Guto) were due to leave on a ferry later but  I had several hours after that before I would be able  to meet Egan, my guide to Espoo and the north of Helsinki.
I’d made contact with Egan via the WSC messageboard and Twitter a couple of weeks ago and he’d suggested that I could go with him to watch Honka, thankfully Egan didn’t seem to like Honka much. Just after I’d met Egan in the station, he confirmed that I was on the right path, Honka are not only less than a proper club they’re quite arrogant with it.
The ground we were due to visit wasn’t in Espoo (home of Honka) it was in Vantaa. That’s right, the game wasn’t in the Sonera so the reason for moving the match no longer applied. Our destination was a constant reminder of why Platini must be held to account.
My feelings veered towrads apoplexy as my source suggested that HJK moved Bangor’s match a day forward because they knew we’d have less chance to prepare, they knew most of Bangor’s players were working on Monday. My source also insinuated that Platini was in favour of this.
The train to Vantaa was rather warm. Because Bangor had played in Vantaa last year the Blue Army told me of an Irish bar near the station, we found the bar to be considerably cheaper than the Central Helsinki bars. We spent a very pleasant hour in the summer sun. After the thrist quenching we tried to find the ground, which was not as easy as it appeared on google maps, the council estate didn’t look like a cul-de-sac on google maps. We found our way through thanks to Imperial resolve and a small view of the floodlights.
Egan’s day job, television journalist, meant I was able to enter the ground as a photographer, or as I prefer to remember it, esteemed journalist. I proudly wore my press pass into the press room. I proudly accepted a free bottle of pepsi as a proud member of the fourth estate. I’d finally arrived. Jet Set 1 Platini 10, I was back in the game! And my fame had spread, a friend of Egan asked me “Are you the Bangor fan that was messed around by the Machivelian machinations of Platini” (I may have paraphrased for dramatic effect).
As I grew accustomed to my new role I casually spoke with a fellow journalist, he disputed my view of last week’s Bangor v HJK match as he didn’t think Bangor were unlucky. Mind you he also thought Rhyl was a nice place so I began to doubt the validity of his thoughts. Then said that he liked Les Davies so I thought he was alright after all, in fact I would go as far as saying that I liked my new friend!! Egan then  suggested that we venture around the ground.
As is my want I tried to put the flags on display. This step is usually fuss-free but today it was different. Firstly a steward thought I was besmirching a Finnish national symbol with my subtle protest. He had to check with his boss whether my flag was ok. With Egan’s explanatory skills I passed this stage, the thumbs up of the supervisor were very welcome. I hung the flags up.
I could hear that my protest flags had created a bit of a stir in the bottom tier. I thought nothing of this as I reasoned that it was the usual bewiderment. When I tried to revel in my handiwork I noticed a couple of white shoelaces, one of which featured a spinning brass eyelet, were where the flag should have been. The spinning brass eyelet only underlined my grave loss. Bloody hell you can’t turn your back for five minutes in Finland!
About a miunte later another steward appeared. “Can you take the flags down? It is not allowed for another club’s flags to be there. They won’t like it (Pointing down at the Honka Ultras.). You will have your flag back in a minute“. Cue another steward with a sheepish grin.
As a result of the flag action the first steward glared at us for the rest of the match as if we were dangerous criminals. A Scouse bloke came up to me to check whether they were my flags. He couldn’t believe that I’d been the one being tutted at when he’d seen Honka fans actually tear down the flag. The pettiness of beauracracy seems to the most international of all languages. This attitude was actually pointless, I didn’t need another reason to wish for an FC Honka defeat.
I managed to recover my composure to hear the pre-match rock soudtrack, it was the only time I’ve heard Rage against the Machine before a match. Thankfully Honka’s defeat arrived without too much fuss. I’ll leave it to the a Swedish newspaper (via google translate) to fill you in;
Hacken went to Finland with a 1-0-lead after last week’s game and is also in qualifying for a European League.

 John Chibuike opened the scoring in the first half (42) and Daniel Forsell permanently closed the match with only ten minutes left to play, 2-0.

– We make a good game, tactically speaking, and when we do 1-0, it will be a long journey for them, while we are growing, says Hacken coach Peter Gerhardsson who think like this about advancement to the Euro League qualification round 3:

This was a charming result as the Honka fans were less than charming; they couldn’t let last year’s defeat against Bangor go so they ripped my flag, they were too loud and had boring songs, apart from the ones they’d pinched from Bangor City. But the worst aspect of the Honka fans is that after one of Hacken’s black players had the temirity to “dive”.Egan and I distinctly heard them making monkey noises at him.
Their attitude was not only rather odd  – they didn’t seem to mind their own players diving – it was also a disgusting throwback to the twentieth century, fortunately only a couple seemed to be doing this.  I felt a bit sick at hearing this but words can’t really do justice to my feelings about hearing real terrace racism for the first time. Thankfully Honka lost. Egan and I left feeling smug in victory.
It was nice to have met Egan, another part of the network of good football fans in Europe.
On the way back from Finland I had another lay-over, this time  in Amsterdam. Upon landing I felt the need for some fresh Amsterdammer air, which meant leaving through a through a passport control gate. The policeman took one look at my shirt, saw the words “WELSH PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2011” under the badge and asked “What is this?”  Bloody hell, a customs official with a streak of humanity, well I never!! I replied with “Well it’s a bit like the Eredivisie but not as good!!”. The look of admiration upon his face was eloquent enough; Bangor City had yet another fan!!!

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