For what would turn out to be a stroke of genius, my niece Sarah had arranged to meet up with friends in Bristol. It meant luckily for her, she’d escape getting dragged round the real ale pubs of her now home city, with me and the ale trailers of the day. A day that had been blessed with glorious weather. It would also be the first time since all the Coronavirus shenanigans started that I would be venturing abroad. Unlike England, both Wales and Scotland have had to put up with the restrictions and measures that haven’t worked, for longer than us. Had I lived in either country, I would’ve really looked at ways of moving to England. Even now as we face yet another variant, Mrs McHittler is stretching out the restrictions she’s imposed north of the border. For that reason, I’d made sure of what restrictions were imposed in Wales and was ready for them. Turning up at New Street, I joined Spoons, Ian, Steve, Jinksy, JK and Daryl for the journey down to South Wales.
Once in the land of the sheep, we changed at Newport for the last leg. Touching down in Swansea, there were already queues stretching out of the station heading for the rugby at Cardiff. I even scanned to see if I could see Sarah’s hubby Dave who I knew was going to the game, but didn’t see him and he’s big enough not to miss. The first port of call would be Copper. A craft beer bar owned by an ex marine.
We all took to the dog, but it seemed to take to me the most. A lovely dog who we would learn of more later. I hadn’t been in Copper before, but the next place I had. The Queens Hotel was exactly how I remembered it.
Although I’d been in the Queens before, I hadn’t been in the next place.
If the Queens was a traditional pub, then this place was much more trendy.
A decent range of beer, including a sour which I plumped for. After there, it was back to more traditional and the No Sign Bar. Purported to be a regular haunt of Dylan Thomas. For those who don’t know who Dylan Thomas was, he played left wing for both Swansea City in the EFL and New York Red Bull in what was a fledgling MLS. He also wrote a bit of poetry and a couple of plays on the side too. General consensus is that had he concentrated on the football side more, he’d have played for Wales many more times than just the three times he did in the 1992/93 season. In 1994 he wrote ‘Under Milk Wood’ which was later to be made into a film for S4C. Some of that is true. I’ll leave it up to you to find out what.
Russell’s mate Nick was in there. He’d driven down to Swansea the night before and had slept in his car. Covid and what’s been happening at Blues with the stands, had been contributing factors for him not having been to a game since before the virus had made inroads. By that, I mean Coronavirus, not the virus that owns Blues. It was great to see him and we hugged. From No Sign Bar, we grabbed a taxi to Boss Brewery. It was in the taxi where we were to learn about the dog at Copper. We’d all noticed it had had stitches inserted on its side near to its hind quarters. Pressing the owner about it, he’d been a bit vague. After the taxi driver had told us what had happened, I could understand why. The owner was obviously still very much affected by the memory of it. The dog had been walked by a customer of the pub as a ‘favour’ and it had returned extremely traumatised and with a deep cut. It’s unsure what actually happened, but it seems the poor dog was stabbed. How anyone can do that is beyond me. At the Boss Brewery, Spoons was offered a job. Although highly honoured, he turned the opportunity down. With time and nothing else around, we decided to double up and bought two pints each. There had been a queue to the bar as it was and so it made perfect sense.
After Hull at home, I looked for it to be a much better game. To be honest. After that game, it couldn’t have been much worse had it really tried to be anyway.
It definitely was a better game. Our movement and passing was much more decisive and quicker in midfield. In fact, right up to when we really needed to just put the ball in the back of the net. Bacuna missed the best chance of the first half. Ballooning over when it was easier to score. Second half and we were to get even closer. Surely it would just be a matter of time. Maxime Colin hit the post with a chance from a set piece when the Swansea net really should’ve bulged. It just wasn’t going to happen and it didn’t. The second Blues game in a row I’d watched that had finished 0:0. Thankfully, I hadn’t wasted one of my precious holidays on the defeat to Middlesbrough at home in midweek. It was though, also the fifth time this season Blues had been involved in a 0:0 draw.
It was a Daryl like mooch back to the station. The bloke makes Speedy Gonzalez look like he’s on a leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll. On the one hand, we were able to make the train back, on the other, my lungs were on fire and my feet were now stumps. Thankfully, neither of my trainers had had a blowout on the way back, because otherwise I’d have been all over the road and possibly even through someone’s front room window. Remarkably, Spoons and Ian were already at the station waiting for us. A lot less remarkable when it was revealed though, was that they’d left the ground long before we had. We changed trains at the soulless Bristol Parkway and the train that came in had Buggies fans on journeying back from their game at Ashton Gate. One of them was Des, who we all knew from him dropping in at the Spotted Dog. Also on, was Jude’s sister and hubby. After saying hello, I settled down for a kip.
I woke up to discover that a bored Des had now joined us. I suppose even asleep, I’m more entertaining than the average Buggies fan. Getting off back in Brum, we headed up to The Colemore for one last drink. Even including yet another 0:0 draw, the day had been a good one. If only the home games could be as good as the away games. If I could guarantee getting tickets for the away games, I’d spend the 59p I’ve managed to save up for my season ticket on something much more worthwhile. Oh, and Wales lost to Italy in the rugby too.