I’ve just come out from hiding. I think it’s safe now after being fleeced again by the Halloween trick or treaters. It’s amazing how quickly we have got used to the new autumnal festival. It got me thinking as we prepare now for Bonfire night and all that follows up to the end of the year, will we also have to get ready to regularly celebrate the newest British festival of all…Brexmas!
The new celebrations are being planned for 31st January 2020 but if you can’t wait that long to have a party one way or another then at least we can look forward to the Brexmas General Election. I think its on December the 12th, or it might be the 9th or did they settle on the 11th? Thinking about it I might just go back behind the sofa until 13th December to hide from the canvassers. Either that or I’ll open the door and say, ‘you’re too early, come back nearer the time’. Maybe they’ll sing some carols, or the ‘Red flag’, ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhaddau’ or maybe even ‘Jerusalem’. I have a feeling its going to be a long and tiring autumn.
Having said that I’m pretty exhausted this week already. Last weekend started nice and early with a trip to the Liberty stadium to see Wales play South Africa in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals. Whereas normally the walk to the Liberty Stadium is a sea of black and white on Saturday the streets were awash with red shirts and dresses and scarves. It felt a bit like Christmas morning but instead of shouting ‘Merry Christmas’ to a passing, jolly, excited, stranger we exchanged greetings of ‘C’mon Wales’.
We were so close. In that second half, as Alun Wynne Jones and his boys ‘arm wrestled’ the South Africans it would only have taken one penalty to settle the match. In fact, it did, but sadly it went to them and not us. As we tucked into an early post-match lunch, you could feel the collective disappointment in the room. The day couldn’t get any worse could it?
I have loved the big games at the Liberty in our days of Premier league pomp but there is nothing quite like the South Wales Derby. It’s the history. For me it started years ago in my youth standing on the North Bank. Some of our recent normal home games have had smaller crowds than usual but you knew Saturday would be special when you heard even someone like Leon Britton was having difficulty getting his hands on extra tickets.
It’s always a joy to welcome our friends and colleagues from Cardiff to the Liberty. They always bring out the best in our fans. Over the past few home games the atmosphere has been a little subdued. Not on Sunday. From the moment you walked into the arena you could tell that it was going to be a big game.
The first thing I noticed about the Cardiff team was how tall they all were. Their central defenders reminded me of the Welsh second row pairing of Alun Wynne Jones and Jake Ball…except they were taller. The rest of the Cardiff team looked to have been crafted from similar sized moulds. The game was definitely a clash of styles. Neil Warnock appeared to have taken a lot of his tactics from the game of rugby we had just seen. He employed a long, kicking game for territory with even free kicks half way inside their own half being used as ‘set pieces’ to launch the ball into the Swansea goal mouth.
Obviously, Steve Cooper decided that the best way to deal with this style of play was not to go head to head, but to go around them. I still think its amazing that the Swans have found themselves at the top end of the Championship, one of most difficult leagues in the world, and they still haven’t completely clicked for more than patches all season. Against Cardiff again we saw glimpses of what could be when it all comes together. But they needed to be strong as well. On Sunday they stood up to the physical challenge but still managed to pass and move.
Having said that, our goal came from a set piece and from a header. It seems ironic that with us creating so many chances on the floor the one that beat their keeper came from a corner. But this wasn’t a straight forward, ‘bang it across and hope for the best’. This was pure Swansea. Routledge with a short corner to Celina who passes to Byers. Byers disguises a return ball to Routledge. By this stage the Cardiff players were probably completely lost. It was a bit like the trickster who has thee cups and one ball and you have to try to keep your eyes on which cup has the ball when the trickery stops.
By the time the ball came back to Routledge the Cardiff defence were so confused they had forgotten about debutant central defender Ben Wilmot. Silently he ghosted in between their central pairing to subtlety deflect the cross into the corner of the goal. After that the game should have been out of sight as chance after chance went a begging. None of us could understand where the referee found the extra 5 minutes but at least it kept us on our toes until the final whistle.
The rest of last Sunday was a bit of a blur. The whole clocks going back affair had obviously taken its toll on my consistently jet lagged body and then came the rest of the week with its dark early evenings combined with weather that makes you think we moved from autumn to winter overnight. It’s been a pretty testing 7 days.
At least there’s still plenty to look forward to this week. On Tuesday, as part of the Swansea 50th celebrations, the City’s annual fireworks display is moving from inside St Helens to the beach itself and its all free. Details here…
And then of course there’s weeks of politicians arguing before the election… oh well, you can’t have everything can you, but you can have your say on the biggest decision this country is going to make since…well, the last one, so make sure you register to vote. You’ve got until 26th November 2019 but don’t leave it too late.