A new flag is made….

8 06 2016

After five days of artistic toil and paper cuts a new flag has been produced for the European Championships. Here it is.


If you see it in France pop over for a chat with the owners! The flag takes its place in the Llandudno Jet Set’s flag collection.

Neath away 2011

The Jet Set in Europe 2011

FC Midtjylland playing near Oswestry 2011

Welsh Cup Final 2011

Welsh Cup Final 2010

General Election 2010 / World Cup 2010

Neath Away 2010

Europa League 2009

Europa League 2009

Welsh Cup Final Protest 2009

Welsh Cup Final 2009

Rhyl 2009

A WPL match in 2008

Welsh Cup Final 2008

Swansea 2005

Cardiff 2004

Milan 2003

A new flag for Europe

21 06 2011

A big thank you to the HJK intellectuals for the inspiration;

Flagging up problems

15 06 2011

If my existing worries about the European draw weren’t bad enough another worry has crept into my mind; will it be safe enough to put my flags on display?

The flags of the Jet Set have a certain political stance and while the flags are tolerated in Britain’s septic isle (through support, bewilderment or indifference) I wonder if they would gain the same reception “on the continent”.

Flags have many purposes; assisting military coordination, signaling, identification and representing nation states and national groups. Flags have “varied, wide-ranging interpretations”. The  “varied, wide-ranging interpretations” of flags gets straight to the heart of my worries; flags have a tendency to excite the emotions, from pride and defiance to anger and revulsion. In football the use of flags can be political – both left-wing and right-wing fans use flags for example. Take this example;

UEFA’s Disciplinary Committee had fined FK Dinamo Zagreb 20,000 Euros because Zagreb fans had waved the Macedonian flag!

The Croatian public are stunned by this bizarre punishment and can not believe the European footballing body would be this unprofessional and racist. Dinamo Zagreb fans waved the Macedonian flag in their UEFA match against Greek based club PAOK”

The Dinamo Zagreb fans were obviously using the Macedonian flags to make a point.  (The Greek government disputes Macedonia’s right to call themselves Macedonia. Hence Macedonia has to be called The “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in the United Nations.)

It’s not just in this general sense that you should show caution. My own experience has shown that you have to be careful with flags “on the continent”.

– In 2006 I was prevented from displaying this flag in Graz because a steward told me it was “too politisch!!”. It was probably my fault, Wales were playing Trinidad & Tobago and I should have realised that Jack Warner didn’t want his eyeballs burned.

– In 2003 I was waiting for another member of the Jet Set outside the San Siro when two Carmarthen fans walked past displaying their flag. Two muscle-bound ultras tried to steal it. Fortunately their leader forced them to return it.

– In 2007  I went to watch Shelborne v Dundalk on the eve of the Ireland V Wales match in Croke Park and I was nearly the victim of a theft;

“Did anyone come across any Welsh at Tolka?? “

– “There was a ‘llandudno jet set’ flag at the corner of the riverside and ballybough end”

“That the s.kooligans spent the whole half planning to steal…”

And then there was the Montenegrin experience of our friends at Ffwtbol;

“You might want to get in early.You might also want to keep your flags until you’re inside the stadium. The Ultras value them as trophies and this photo emerged of the stolen Welsh flags being displayed upside down after the game – the Ultras message that they “won” the fight.

I’ve heard that some were taken by Dickensian street urchins being paid by the older mob to dive and run off with the flags hanging outside bars. Other stories suggest the Ultras were a bit more brazen and simply beat up anybody who protested.”

Therefore caution is needed in the display of flags;  you never know who’ll take offence, or even just take it. I don’t want to become the victim of a  vicious attack and I don’t want to cause a diplomatic incident. I sense my flags could cause offence if we drew the wrong club. Two of the flags feature the hammer and sickle, if you look at the list of cubs that Bangor can draw you will notice that half the clubs are from “behind the iron curtain” as we used to say;

BATE Borisov Belarus
Maccabi Haifa Israel 
Dinamo Zagreb Croatia
Rosenborg Norway
APOEL Cyprus
Wisła Kraków Poland
Litex Lovech Bulgaria 
Viktoria Plzeň Czech Republic
Slovan Bratislava Slovakia
Sturm Graz Austria
FK Partizan Serbia
HJK Helsinki  Finland
Ekranas  Lithuania
Maribor Slovenia
Zestafoni Georgia (country)
Malmö FF  Sweden
Shamrock Rovers Republic of Ireland

The fans of these clubs might see the flags as an unwelcome reminder of Stalinist tyranny. My protestations that the hammer and Ssckle has other connotations –  Anti-Stalinist POUM in the Spanish Civil War or Eurocommunism –  probably wouldn’t placate irate ultras shouting in a language I can’t understand.  On a similar note one of the flags contains the Palestinian flag and if we drew the Israeli club I can imagine that the display of this flag wouldn’t go down too well. (Whether I’d go there in the first place is a moot point).

With this in mind I thought it sensible to check whether the fans of the clubs we could draw would have a problem with my socialist flags. (I will then hope to avoid them in the draw.)

My research has shown the following clubs may have “problem fans”;

Dinamo Zagreb

“It was brought to the attention of Celtic Fans Against Fascism that there have been increasing numbers of Dinamo Zagreb’s hooligan gang – the Bad Blue Boys – making visits to Glasgow and following Celtic in Europe in recent seasons. Much of the information available about the Bad Blue Boys suggests that they are predominantly right-wing in political outlook and have an extreme nationalist and Nazi element among their support.

On at least two separate occasions over the years the BBB have attacked our anti-fascist friends from St Pauli at Celtic’s European matches (in Zagreb and Budapest). The attacks were politically motivated. The BBB know St Pauli’s anti-fascist reputation and attacked them because of it.”

 Wisla Krakow (and this is from a Krakow tourist website.)

“Unfortunately there is a dark side to Polish football. The rivalry between Wisla and Cracovia is so bitter and idiotic that it often descends into bouts of intense violence amongst the supporters, sometimes involving unlucky bystanders, so take our advice and try to steer clear of any fans on derby days! In general, avoid red-and-white stripes (Cracovia) or stars (Wisla) on your clothing, too. An additional blot on Polish football is that the few black players plying their trade here are often subjected to mindless verbal abuse from the fans. It’s a sad reminder that there is long way to go before we kick racism out of football (or the country in general).”

Slovan Bratislava

“On Friday 20th April (2007) a group of supporters of SK Slovan Bratislava displayed a banner to celebrate the birthday of Adolf Hitler.

The banner carried the words Alles Gute Adi (“Happy birthday Adolf”) and a smiley face in a form of Adolf Hitler. The letter S in this sign was replaced by a sigurnia – a symbol used as a sign for SS units.

This incident took place at the league match against FC Senec (1:1). Slovan supporters also were chanting “racist, fascist, hooligans, repeated several times.

This was not, however, an isolated incident connected with Slovan Ultras supporters. They are infamous for their similar racist and fascist behaviour – at a match with Artmedia Petrzalka on April 7th, in Bratislava, the same group of ultras chanted monkey noises directed at the German-born Karim Guede, who playes for Togo and as a defensive midfielder for Artmedia.

The approach of club officials and players is also quite disturbing. Players of SK Slovan greeted and clapped their supporters after the match. Slovan Ultras also published an article describing their meeting with club officials, which took place a couple of days after the match with Artmedia. The article says that the meeting was held in a very friendly atmosphere and they have been praised for their support for the SK Slovan team and received support for their activities from the club officials.

Not a word about the racist chanting, which happened at the same match, and not a word about the nazi symbols.”

And there’s this from November 2008;

“Bratislava – More than 50 people were injured in nationalistic-fuelled violence at a football game in south-western Slovakia. Thirty-one people were arrested in Saturday’s rioting – 18 fans for the home team in Dunajska Streda, one of the most important centres for Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarian minority, and 13 from the away team from Bratislava, a police spokeswoman in Bratislava said.

Violence had been feared ahead of the championship game between AC Dunajska Streda and Slovan Bratislava as hundreds of football hooligans and neo-Nazis from Hungary were expected to travel to the match. “

APOEL (taken from Nicos Trimikliniotis’ article; “Preventing racism, xenophobia and related intolerance in sport across the European Union”)

“Despite the ethnic division of the country for the last years, even to this day the ‘left-wing’ teams (Omonia, AEL, Alki and Nea Salamina) retain supporters amongst Turkish-Cypriots, whilst the ‘right-wing’ teams (APOEL, Anorthosis, Olympiakos, Apollon) are generally seen as nationalistic and some their supporters carry the Greek Flags to the matches, whilst in their banners one may often see far right-wing symbols.

The display of Greek flags causes tension with left-leaning fans; 

“AN OMONIA FC fan burnt the Greek flag on Sunday during the Nicosia football derby with archrivals APOEL, seemingly worsening the overly hostile climate between the supporters of the two clubs.

At the capital’s GSP stadium it appeared as if two different worlds had met: on the APOEL side — whose fan base is traditionally right-wing — there was a plethora of Greek flags being waved while on the Omonia side none were on display by its mostly left-wing supporters.

That was until an Omonia fan pulled out a Greek flag from his pocket and proceeded to light it on fire. The incident occurred just a few minutes into the….”

There is also this;  

“APOEL is known to be a bastion of Disy supporters, the right-wing party now in opposition. An unofficial website proclaims the team is “100 per cent anti-communist“.

FK Partizan

It’s difficult to find evidence like the above but  it’s probably safe to assume that becuase their ultras bare the name “The Gravediggers” – and have sub-groups called “Anti-Romi” or “Irriducibili NBG” – some fans probably aren’t too liberal.

The other clubs in the draw don’t seem to carry baggage like this. For example Malmo FF’s supporters are like this;

“MFF Support describes itself as “an idealistic and non-political association working against violence and racism“.

Now I need to make a decision, based on the flag situation, about which club I’d like Bangor City to draw. I think it’s possible to deduce the following;

1. The left-wing connotations of my flags could enrage so this rules out Dinamo Zagreb, Slovan Bratislava, APOEL, FK Partizan and Wisla Krakow.

2. The Palestinian flag could enrage so this rules out Maccabi Haifa

3. The hammer and sickle could offend so this rules out the clubs from ex-state-socialist countries; BATE Borisov, Dinamo Zagreb, Wisła Kraków, Litex Lovech, Viktoria Plzeň, Slovan Bratislava, FK Partizan, Ekranas, Maribor and Zestafoni

4. Sturm Graz is ruled out because of the over-zealous stewarding

The choice we have left is; Malmo FF, Shamrock Rovers, Rosenborg and HJK Helsinki.

I think I’ll go for Shamrock Rovers. (I actually don’t care which of the four it is, as long as the draw means that we play the second leg away.)

Flags open doors

21 11 2009
Port Talbot Town 2 Bangor City 1
Welsh Premier League

For the second week in a row we were on a train to south Wales on an international weekend, albeit one of the egg-chasing variety this time. Needless to say the train was nearly full of red shirt wearers by the time we got on at Prestatyn. With every stop the crowd grew, especially after the rural stops. By Newport the train was one patriotic mass in their pretty red shirts.

You can’t help but  love 90 minute patriots (People who become super patriotic during a sports event.) but were these people 90 minute patriots? They weren’t on our train last week for example. “We never win nothing at football do we?” Instead of 90 minute patriots, we were dealing with 90 minute glory seeking patriots.

To put it another way we were surrounded by loads of people doing something simply because loads of other people are doing it so they simply must do it. When you add in nationalist flavour it feels a bit dodgy. On the other hand these people are only Welsh went it suits them so I won’t man the barricades just yet. On the third hand, it’s one thing to write about it but it’s another thing entirely to see it at first hand. (All of these hands are getting confusing – Ed.) 

On the fourth hand egg-chasing is truly the national religion of “the Welsh” so why am I bleating anyway, you can’t knock the herd mentality either. What’s wrong with the clank of beer bottles at twenty to 8 in the morning rounded off with the boorishness of the rugby dressing room? Everybody loves a loud party on a train!!!

Luckily we were saved by three middle-aged men. These gentlemen were what I have always considered proper rugby fans, quiet, sensible, knowledgeable, friendly. None of this moron in a red shirt business, just people that like rugby. Due to the capacity for memorising worthless trivia I was able to hold my own in a conversation about chasing eggs.

Earlier this week, just after I had bought the train tickets, I began to worry; “What if the game was called off?” It seemed to have been raining constantly for a week. The rainy conditions on the way down hardly offered comfort. We arrived in Cardiff in a litter strewn cesspit that used to be a train carriage. The drunken idiots didn’t care; “As long as I’ve got my beer ya poof!!!” Outside the station it was STILL raining a week later, shit!!

Just outside the station we were besieged and harangued by cockernee hawkers of shoddy merchandise and shady cockernee purveyors of tickets, “£50!!! 50!!!!! YOU’RE ‘AVIN A LARFF, AINT YER!!!” Is everyone in London trying to be a Delboy or suffink? An Argentine flag for £5 briefly caught my eye but the Pasty shop’s call was too insistent to turn down. It was STILL raining, shit!!

A short hop down the train tracks and we were in Port Talbot. The strain of waiting for a taxi was lessened by a friendly old person and his conversation, apparently it had been raining all week, shit!! The conversation reminded of the Cup Final in May, there are a lot of nice people in South Wales. Another nice person drove our taxi to the ground. It was STILL raining, shit!! The match was on, thank fuck!!!!

The clientele of the social club were welcoming enough and we had a nice chat with Andy Legg. Then the sodden stands called us. In order to keep our flags  relatively damp-free we sought to attach them to the wall of the stand, “You can’t do that” officialdom told us, “Put it on the seats”. I complied so I didn’t obscure the view that the corrugated iron walls had. I put it on the seats, it got wet. Thank you officialdom. None of those jobsworth bastards know how difficult it is to dry 60 square feet of polyester evenly. 

The match was pretty forgettable. We  had some possession, Port Talbot had some possession. We had 1 or 2 chances, Port Talbot had 3 or 4. I saw Sputnic whilst I was assessing the rain situation, he was in his car. He told me he’d see me in a bit. Sion tried his best down our wing but it didn’t come off, much to the amusements of the pundits seated to our left. “You’re no good, are you son?” They asked the question like they expected an answer from Sion. The second half promised rain.

We thought better of going into the clubhouse so we tried to put the flag up at the other end. The flag drew some interest and a few conversations. Speaking of flags, Port Talbot’s fans have a few but we hadn’t seen them as yet. I was just wondering about that when a bloke came over and enquired about the flag, he seem quite impressed. We were both of the same opinion, the League of Wales would be better with a flavour of the Curva. Nigel, it turns out, was the owner of Port Talbot’s flags. He assured me that they’d be up for the second half. He said we should have a pint after the game. Flags and football, the secret to making friends in this uncaring world. If only the Kremlin was listening.

The second half was annoying, we had a bit of pressure but we couldn’t force a save from the unusually calm Lee Kendall. Just when we looked like we could possibly starting to maybe force a save from the Crazy Custodian Port Talbot somehow managed to score. They somehow managed to win a penalty, which they somehow managed to score. We saw a touch of the Stade Velodrome after each goal, a giant chequered flag was unfurled. Between the two goals the enormity today’s course of events hit me, (we’d up since half 6, spent 4 and a half hours on a train with morons, been soaked by the constant rain, our team were losing and we’d just lost a player to a second yellow card) yet seeing the flags unfurled somehow lessened the blow of it all.  Just when my only enjoyment was a curt long-distance discussion with more pundits about what constitutes a foul, Bangor scored. Kendall took on his old persona after this, the prick. The score remained 2-1.

Just before we caught our second taxi, with our second nice taxi driver, we had a pleasant conversation with Nigel. We’ both agreed that we’d definitely have to do this next season. There you have it, flags win friends!!!

Just to add one more observation; drunken rugby fans waiting for trains in Cardiff Central Station are complete morons.

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