4/2/23 Swansea City V Blues. The Missing Act Of Swan Late.

With Jinksy in Scotland, Jk in Ireland and Daryl working, England would be a quiet place to be. A depleted bunch of us ale trailers headed over the border into Wales. Because of train strike disruption, we’d missed out on Cardiff away, so this would be our first and only venture into the right way up sheep country this season. I’d checked my passport to make sure it was still in date, and also made sure I was up-to-date with being inoculated too. I didn’t fancy the idea of being chased by one of the rabid, woolly inhabitants, and then chomped on if they actually managed to catch me. I’m just not as fast as I used to be, and I’m telling you, those sheep can move. Especially if they’ve been on the Red bull again, and if they’ve got their rollerskates on as well, you’ve got absolutely no chance of escaping. I met up with Steve, Ian, Spoons and Jude at New Street. Having worked in Swansea a few years ago, Jude fancied finding out if much had changed, and so her and her new hubby Spoons (Sorry, but I still think it’s brilliant they’ve got married.) had decided to stay over. I also discovered that an upcoming ground hop of mine was now off as the club I was going to land on, was now away. Now I’m sure they wouldn’t have known I was going to drop on them, so I can’t think they’d got scared and moved the game. Maybe I’d better do a bug sweep of my flat. You know what governmental spooks are like. As far as I know, I haven’t had a micro chip inserted that enables the Thought Police to follow me……yet. Mind you, you just never know, do you? I have a mobile phone, so it could be that. It was ok with the Nokia 3310. If you had a feeling you were being watched and listened to, you could dropkick it up the road, and put them off the scent, but you never know what these new phones are capable of. Look at me, I’m even allowed to write this rubbish on it. That can’t be right can it? Censure or sensor? Be careful of the shadows. I might just be hiding in there. Knowing that with Wales being at home to Ireland in the 6 Nations rugby championship, we changed at Newport, just to avoid the inevitable scrum at Cardiff (Like the way I deftly slipped a rugby term in there? Or is it that I’m just a dummy? Anyway, the ball doesn’t even bounce properly.) Whilst waiting for our connection to Swansea, we were entertained by a young woman, who completely oblivious to all around her, was practicing her martial arts moves. That was right up until station staff asked her to disist with the kung-fu kicks and stuff. Newport had got an early kickoff versus Swindon, and a good group of Swindon fans got off the train we were waiting for. Loudly making themselves known to all and sundry, including the police who had a visible welcoming committee set up on the platform nearest the station entrance. Carrying on to Swansea, we walked passed the hordes waiting to catch the train to Cardiff as we exited the station and found a shut Copper. (Or Copr in Welsh. I suspect the girl on Newport Station may have taken the ‘E’, but as for the ‘P’, I’m always taking that.) After learning about what had happened to the dog from Copper last season, we’d been keen to see how it was now. Instead we moved on to the Bank Statement. A Wetherspoons that was filling up with Irish fans ready for the rugby. From there, we moved on to the Queen’s Hotel.

“They really do take the egg chasing seriously in Wales”

As we sat down, we were joined by my Swansea living niece Sarah and her hubby Dave. After greeting them with hugs, we set about catching up. After turning 40 that week, she and Dave had been lucky enough to see Maisie Adams perform the previous night. Sarah was a little fragile because of it. I can’t lie, I was pretty jealous. I think Maisie Adams is really funny and I love the skinhead girl style she sports, and even though she’s a Leeds fan, I love that’s she’s heavily into football and also 2Tone/Ska. As we carried on with catching up, we moved onto Beer Riff, a craft beer brewery, but in a great setting overlooking the wharf. I was tempted by the smell of the pizzas cooking, but looking at the menu, there was nothing that lept out at me. After Beer Riff, we moved onto No Sign Bar, a known haunt of Dylan Thomas, although not the only hostelry he frequented, it is though, probably the best place in Swansea. After saying goodbye to Sarah and Dave so they could get home in time to watch the egg chasing, and also saying goodbye to Jude, so she could go and check in, the rest of us grabbed a taxi to Boss Brewery. Along with Covid issues hitting ingredients, deliveries and staffing, and now rising energy costs, breweries are feeling the pinch, and struggling. So much so, that even substantial, established breweries are going out of business. Boss is one that is teetering on the brink of going. The change from last season is clear for all to see.

“This place was packed last season”

I’d be sorry to see the place fold, due to its close proximity to the ground, and more importantly, the away end.

To the main event then. A proper game, with a proper ball, that bounces properly. After a 0:0 game last season, and the run of form since the World Cup break, I wasn’t expecting much from Blues.

“None of that picking the ball up and running with it cheating lark”

I’m starting to like this bloke Reda Khadra that we’ve got on loan. He’s got a bit of pace and is always on his toes looking for an opportunity to attack. After just getting to the ball first, he was taken out by the Swansea keeper. A penalty. With Deeney not playing, it meant that there was less chance of it being missed. Up stepped Scott Hogan to despatch it into the net, and thus he reached double figures for the season. After that good start, half an hour into the game, Swansea had turned it round. Now 2:1 down, I was starting to get that old feeling of resignation we were going to lose again. That’s what momentum does to you. When you’re overlooking a winning streak, the positivity courses through everything. Confidence can drag you back into a game, from a losing position. With a losing streak, it’s exactly the opposite. The positivity is replaced by negativity and confidence is nonexistent.

“We’ve been here before.”

I’m a fan of Tahith Chong. He’s got an ability to create things. He’s not from the school of just kick it and head it. He’s got skill. Can do things I can only dream of. He is though, a bit of a quandary. There are times when you would just like him to kick it or head it. Can seem a bit powderpuff. He’s a great individual player, but how to fit him into a team and system remains a problem. He’s possibly the only player at the club that would’ve taken the chance that he equalised with. 2:2, I’d have been happy with that. Not to be. The normally reliable John Ruddy had a rush of blood to the head, and gifted the home side with a chance that they retook took the lead with. I’m a fan of Ruddy, but the mistake was one that I would’ve expected off either Etheridge or Lee Camp when he was still in goal for us, I wasn’t about to except that kind of rubbish off Ruddy, and couldn’t help venting my disgust at him. What was worse, was it had rendered the equaliser meaningless. As the minutes ticked by, it looked like another defeat was inevitable. After staying to the end of the 0:0 draw last season and then the lung busting, joint shredding race back to the station to get the train, I gave up on seeing us get anything out of the game when the board with the added time was put up.

Following Steve out of the ground, as we got to the traffic island, a huge roar went up from inside the ground signalling someone had scored. Me and Steve looked at each other and agreed it would’ve been the 4th goal for Swansea. Getting back to the station, we asked an old Blues lad we knew, and who we’d actually shared a taxi to Boss Brewery with earlier, if it was indeed 4:2. I checked on my phone to see if anyone had posted anything on our WhatsApp group. I was surprised to see a double post by Russell that eluded to goals having been scored. Greatly intrigued, I checked on the BBC website. Blues had not only equalised, but had scored a winner. The roar we’d mistaken for the 4th Swansea goal, had actually been the Blues equaliser. The only consolation was that Ian hadn’t seen this amazing end to the game either. For the second week running, we had that bittersweet feeling. I’ve got to say, it’s a bizarre feeling. On the one hand, you’re obviously happy, but it’s tinged with a odd combination of guilt and jealousy. We consoled ourselves that we would’ve missed the train, had we stayed to the final whistle, and besides, a win is a win, and after our recent form, it didn’t matter we’d missed the goals, we’d still been there for most of it. On the way back to Brum, we changed at Cardiff. Bumping into Paul from the Roost, Clacker and his two lads on the platform, it turned out they’d missed both goals too. Thankfully with not having to swap platforms, we got seats easily when the connecting train arrived for our last leg back home. Oh, and the Irish ‘boys’ beat the Welsh ‘men’ in the egg chasing. For the record, 10-34. As for the dog, we were to find out it’s ok and doing well.

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