Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Denmark 0-1 Wales

You know I wasn't surprised. I backed Wales to win this one. I just think that any team with Aaron Ramsey in it can win the game. I know we're not supposed to out too much pressure on the lad, but hey I'm a fan. I jus love watching the kid play.

I usually enjoy listening to Ian Walsh's summaries but he had a bit of a poor night tonight. "I mustn't harp on, but Ramsey looks tired". But he did harp on. All through the second half.

I was also surprised by some of their tactical remarks. I assumed from the start that Bellamy would play deeper, but it seemed to surprise Walshy and even Ian Gwyn Hughes. And the half-tie switch of Ricketts for Edwards with Bale pushing on is a sign of things to come. Bale is struggling for confidence since he missed that penalty in Russia, and his defensive qualities are not great.

I expect Shearer will have another pop at bellamy's finishing, but at the moment I will forgive the man anything. I'm not sure Ramsey will be able to forget the chance that Bellamy had to put him through for an open goal on his debut.

I worry about how many times James Collins is left to distribute the ball. he inevitably goes for the 80 yard pass and loses posession. I was glad to see Ramsey dropping deep and picking it up. He overshadowed Collison in this respect. As a deep lying midfielder you would like to see Collison taking more responsibility.

Overall it was the most enjoyable Wales performance for many a game. We look very likely to create chances, and our defence is brave if not impenetrable. Once Denmark went behind, they looked like they could score when they needed to. That's pretty much the story for all our games at the moment. Our attitude is generally very good, but once our opposition get hungry, we struggle to cope.

Still, the result is great for confidence. Amd also for all those snipers who prefer to sit at home instead of wearing the red shirt. Face it lads, we don't need you. And isn't that hard to take?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bangor City 0-2 Rhyl

Footage of this game and the incidents I describe can be seen at the Sgorio website.

I was greeted by a queue of people snaking round onto Farrar Road as I turned up with my camera to this one last night. I snuck through to the press entrance and took my place in front of the Farrar Road stand which Bangor usually attack. Rhyl must have won the toss because they made Bangor swap, and 500 people began the trek round the ground to stand behind the Rhyl goal.

I was on my way too until I noticed the arrival of about 30 Rhyl fans, some of whom began chanting as they entered the ground. They stood on the Farrar End and let rip with a number of tunes regarding their opponents. "I'd rather be a smackhead than a Blue". There were a couple fo songs about in-breeding too, and generally lariness aimed at the large gang of Bangor teenagers who decided to loiter and provoke.

There was only one steward to start with, and he was joined by a couple of others when the game started. The Bangor group edged closer to the Rhyl fans, and insults were freely traded. I nevcer thought I would see a cut-throat sign at a Welsh premier game , but there it was, coming from one of the young Rhyl lads, one of a few wearing Stone Island labels.

To be fair, I never thought it was going to kick off. These were very young kids and there were plenty of sensible heads around to calm things down. And the fuss did start to die down until Rhyl's second goal mid way through the first half.

Then I saw a crowd surge. You don't get many crowds at Welsh Premier games, let alone surges. There were punches thrown and it all got a bit nasty. The stewards bravely stepped in and re-inforcements were called. As the Bangor fans were moved away from the area, further scuffles broke out.

I took a number of pictures from pitch-side, though I'm not sure its in anyone's best interests that I publish them here. From what I could see it appeared that one of the older Bangor lads was trying to grab a flag from one of the Rhyl boys. Rhyl piled in and at one stage somebody was being kicked on the floor by half a dozen lads.

It got pretty messy. It was certainly the worst disorder I've ever seen at a Welsh Premier game, and probably the worst I've seen inside any ground for a few years. Isolated scores were being settled across the terrace and stewards had a tough time.

After that flurry, it was all over when the teams changed ends for the second half. By now the stewards were in the right place and about a dozen police were placed inside the ground.

Bangor will be in trouble for this I'm sure. Despite the extra security they had in place, when it came to the crunch, there were only a few flourescent jackets in amongst the Rhyl fans. I feel sorry for the club. The officials do try their best, but these people are volunteers and shouldn't be having to deal with social disorder issues.

If anybody from the club wants to see my photographs, please get in touch and maybe you can identify and ban a few of the people involved.

On the pitch it was one-sided. Bangor simply had nothing to threaten the Rhyl goal, and the game was effectively over after half an hour.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

inflatable igoals review

This is an igoal. It's inaflatable.

If you run a junior football team, it's more than likely that you will have spent hours on a muddy field in the rain trying to fit together 45 bits of plastic tubing to set up the gols for your kids team. It means that you have to arrive at least 45 mins before everyone else and you pray that all the bits are there.

Well we'd had enough, and when my mate Cags spotted these in a garden on Anglesey, he made enquiries. We got sponsorship from Greenwood Forest Park and I order a goal on Saturday, which arrived this morning. I decided to use JJB as we weren't sure what we were getting and thought that returns might be a little easier. The goal was £179, with a free football and some vouchers.

I'm not exagerrating when I say that I opened the bag and had set up the goal within 5 minutes.
All you do is find the valve, stick in the pump provided, and pump it up. It even has the nets already attached. We have the large size goals 12ft x 6ft, which means we can use them in matches.

It took a good 50 or 60 pumps and I don't think that I've inflated it to 100% yet. We're going to try it out on Saturday, and if it's successful we'll order the other next week. But so far so good.

They look fine, and they're certainly sturdy enough. they may be a little less rebound that off the plastic goals, but there's not much off them anyway. And if you peg it down properly, I reckon it's ideal for junior matches.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Don't ask me for a tip

I'm having a stinking run on the spread betting. If you need to know which way a game will go, just ask me what I predict. the outcome will be the exact opposite.

In my bid to live beyond 50, I am spending a lot of time on the old exercise bike which as you know is very very boring and can only be suffered in front of a live football match. I've taken advantage of the free Setanta offer and I spend an hour most days in front a small tv, watching the second half of an obscure live game.

Live games are also pretty boring , so I have to bet to maintain an interest. This means that I am gambling way outside my sphere of knowledge on games that could go either way. Except with my backing, they are guaranteed to throw up a surprise.

It was the rugby last night. I bought sporting index's 15-18 minute spread on the time of the first try. It was Stradey's last game and I was sure it would be a let down until the players settled down after all the hype. What happens? Some lard arsed Bristolian centre falls flat on his arse and Stoddard strolls over unopposed after 3 minutes. It is the only time Llanelli (Scarlets my arse - Parc y Scarlets? What sort of Welsh is that? Oh I know, Llanelli Welsh.) come close to scoring for the rest of the half.

And tonigth it was Blackburn v Middlesbrough, possibly the most unattractive fixture in the football calendar. I would have much preferred to have stuck with Aberystwyth v TNS on S4C, which was a cracking game, but had no sporting index coverage of course.

With the spread at 0.2-0.4 for a Blackburn win, I sold at £20, expecting a 0-0 pile of turge. I was right about the pile of turge and I nearly feel off my bike when Boro scored.

From then on, there was 20 minutes of no hope and Bob Hope for Blackburn. That is until Gareth Southgate made The World's Worst Substitution. Off went Tuncay and on came Marvin Emnes a £3m signing from Heerenveen.

Emnes had an undistingushed 15 minutes on the pitch, during which time he committed 2 fouls, was offside three times and touched the ball not once. Then in the 93rd minute he thrust his arse in the face of Brett Emerton for no discernible reason and gave away the free kick that let to Blackburn's unforeseeable equaliser. Except in my house, where it was inevitable, robbing me as it did of £20. Grrrrr!

Daily Mail are a bunch of lazy thieving bastards

Thanks to Rhys for pointing out the Daily Mail's publication of my Twll Tin Bob Sais story. Obviously , it's not scoop of the century, but you'd think they might have got their own photo to accompany the piece. On their pic, you can even see the Sky+ graphic where I rewound and paused the action for my photo. See where it says -2|| in the bottom left corner?

Still at least I know that of the three people who read this blog, one of them is a Daily Mail researcher. Hello there, how are you, Little Hitler? A byline would have been nice.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gareth Bale and his sticky patch

It's been a tough few weeks for the boy wonder. His Spurs side have had a terrible start to the season, and his form has been poor. He's playing without confidence, and Ramos doesn't seem to play a system that suits him.

I've been wondering about his best position for a while now. Even Welsh fans have been wondering whether Sam Ricketts is a safer option in a defensive formation with Bale in a more advanced position. Bale's best attributes are attacking. He has fantastic pace, a great touch and his delivery is usually spot on. Add to that his great dead ball accuracy and he is an asset to any team.

But he scares me a bit at the back. He pushes on and can leave gaps. He has been giving the ball away recently and relying on his pace to recover. Unfortunately, there isn't much chance of that if you lose it on 18 yards, and yesterday he earned a red card against Stoke. It was a very bad mistake ; one which cost his side three points and maybe his manager's job.

But it''s been coming. He played poorly for Wales against Lichtenstein and Germany. He hasn't been the same since he missed that penalty in Moscow. I wonder if that has knocked his confidence.

He has also started cheating, which is a bad sign. I've noticed it for Spurs. He goes down very easily, usually with his arms raised in protest. Last season he would have carried on and tried to create something. Now he is playing for free kicks. In Dusseldorf he even stayed down in injured for a while after inventing a collision. I hope this isn't something that he is being coached to do.
Actually , I hope it is. I would hate to see him become that type of player through choice.

Either way, Spurs need him back on form and so do Wales. Luckily, we've got more time than they have.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Close but no cigar

Bloody hell it's hard being a Welsh football fan. Ever since Joe Jordan made me cry in 1977, 31 years of utter misery has been interspersed with boredom and half a dozen evenings of bliss.
This week's action has been the normal progression from pessimism, pride,fleeting hope and ultimately defeat. Plus ca change. Sometimes I think it's better when we are hopeless.

In a way, last night's under 21 defeat was more difficult to take. We were disadvantaged in so many different ways. Once again, the difference in age showed. The developmentof young players between the ages of 17 and 21 is massive. Wales just ran out of steam against their stronger opponents. But not before the football Gods tempted us with too many hints of success.

Aaron Ramsey is magnificent. But what a shame that Owain Fon Williams was responsible for both goals. He was the one kid who wanted to win the most. He seems like such a nice lad. Maybe too nice for professional football.

just a word of admiration here for Stuart Pearce. He was generous in victory and honest and accurate in his assessment of the game. Fair play Psycho.

And then to Germany. The game panned out like so many others. Wales defend bravely, threaten slightly, it all looks to be going well, and then a sucker punch. Right in the guts.

James Collins had his best game for Wales after a year out. Craig Morgan and Ashley Williams did well too considering they play for Peterborough and Swansea. Gunter and Bale struggled again. Maybe teams have snuffed out that threat now.

I am liking our captain more and more. Craig Bellamy now gives the best interviews on television. He is passionate, to the point and honest. Add an Owain Glyndwr tattoo to those qualities, and you have a great mix. Obviously Alan Shearer didn't think so on BBC 3's coverage. but I'm backing Bellamy every time in that conflict.

The thing is, at the end of the day we lost again. In 2005 the Welsh rugby team started showing great promise, but they too lost the big games. Then something happened. They became a winning team. Last minute kicks started to go over, decisions went their way.

The Welsh football team needs to cross that barrier. We are too pleased with ourselves for losing bravely. Brian Flynn was grinning at the end of last night's match. We need to become winners. Once we do, I'm sure this will be the best decade for Welsh football in our lifetime. But for now it's more pain and misery.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Twll Din Bob Sais

Setanta might want to consider employing a Welsh speaker for Wales games.

In their pre-match build-up before the Under 21 play-off at Villa Park, they lingered on this happy bunch of Welsh supporters.

The camera focused on this flag for a good 10-15 seconds. I don't think it would have done if they had known what i means........


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wales 2-0 Liechtenstein

I was really looking forward to this game after our performance in Russia and the Under 21's performance the previous evening. A shame then that not many people shared my enthusiasm, and it looked like the crowd was lower than the Under 21's attendance.

I was pitchside once again, and it's surprising how disconcerting it can be when the atmnosphere is poor. You can here isolated shouts, people chattering distractedly, and those horns....oh God those horns.

Craig Bellamy's interviews are full value these days. I like him more and more. You don't get the ususal platitudes and he tells it the way it is. "The pitch isn't the best", he said. "It's a rugby pitch". He also told us how difficult it is to play in front of a low crowd and a poor atmosphere.

I think he's right in that respect. I think the Welsh public are currently letting their team down. I understand it totally. I didn't make the effort for the Azerbaijan game because the truth is that watching a Wales international these days is a chore.

I'm not sure why we stick at this low tempo game, when the Uhder 21's showed that our strength lies in our aggressive, high speed forcefulness. More often than not, our centre halves are looking to distribute the ball. With all due respect to Morgan and Williams, Beckenbauer and Hansen they are not. Our system is the reason that James Collins has so often looked uncomfortable when he plays. If you close down our wing backs like Liechtenstein did, then you make our big defenders play a footballing game which is anethama to them.

Ramsey should travel to Germany. Edwards is a decent young footballer, but Ramsey is now ready. We pose a threat via Bellamy and Koumas, but add Ramsey to that combination and suddenly we are a lot more threatening. He has to play sooner rather than later. The Under 21's game is a lost cause now. Take him to Moenchengladbach.

Wales football internationals are becoming little more than a day out for the kids. This has to change somehow. I don't have the answer I'm afraid. Many people will point to the great occasion on Friday at Ninian Park, and even back to the last truly enjoyable Wales game; Wales v Belarus at the same venue.

But Ninian will be no more pretty soon, and we have seen how the Liberty Stadium fails to match up. The Kop is closed at Wrexham, so it looks like the Mill Stad is our only viable option. I just wish we could fill the bloody thing. Banning those horns might help. I'm serious about that. Deadly serious.

It was public opinion which got smoking banned at public events, so let's get rid of those tooters. I think I'll start a petition.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wales (under 21) 2-3 England (Under 21)

I was far too emotionally involved in this game.It was an under 21 game game after all. A practise match in effect. Not much more than youth football.

But I had been working on some interview clips during the week for Sgorio's website . There are videos of a few of the players on the site and one in particular stood out. The Welsh keeper Owain Fon Williams gave the best interview I've seen for a long time. It's in Welsh and he basically said that he dreamed of beating the English. He spoke like we feel. Look at the image of Owain belting out the anthem on the images below. We have a new Dai Davies in the making.

I realy wanted them to win but I feared the worst. The odds were against us from the start. Despite UEFA's soundbites, everything is against the small nation. Firstly, despite creating a shock by winning our group,we were forced into a playoff, designed to give teams like France another chance. We pipped Romania to the group win, and we are then assigned a referee from...Romania. And finally,despite the fact that we need about nine of our Under 21 players for our senior team, the fixtures are arranged to clash with important senior fixtures. Wrexham can cancel a game because they lose 3 players to international fixtures, but the Under 21 team is forced to face England with a second string.

But bloody hell they did us proud. In front of a raucous sellout crowd, they attacked from the start. Shaun McDonald stood out for me, and Aaron Ramsey is simply imperious. He must feature in Toshack's team soon. He will be the best Welsh player since Ian Rush.

England seemed to think it would be easy. Arrogant, spoilt, but talented Premiership players were a little disrespectful I thought. I liked Stephen Taylor though. He has to be a future English captain.

Ablongahor was frighteningly quick. But he did something in the first half which I'm not sure is right. as he chased a through-ball going through to Owain Fon in the Welsh goal, he put two fingers his mouth and whistled like a shepherd. It's intended to put the keeper off, but I think it probably warrants a yellow card for ungentlemanly conduct.

The ref was lenient throughout. From my position pitchside I couldn't see too much, but the crowd seemed indignant a lot of the time. I watched it on television when got back, and I could see no foul in the build up to England's third goal, despite Rob Phillips assertions on Radio Wales.

So yes, England were the better team, and I expect them to win the return game at Villa Park. But I've written off Brian Flynn's boys before now and been wrong every time. There is class and spirit throughout the team. Simon Church was particularly impressive, along with Jack Collison. Whatever the result on Tuesday, it's been a great ride with this group of players and the future looks dazzlingly bright.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

It's not about the winning

As you know, my Under 9's team has had a difficult start to the season. 4 games, 0 goals scored 21 goals against. And there wasn't a 0-0 draw amongst those.

But you know, it isn't about the winning. it's about fun. As long as they have fun that's great. No, it's not the result that counts. Nope. No way. Never.

As long as they develop a passing game, and they improve , well it's worth it. And it's important to give everybody a game whatever the situation. Football-for-all, that's my motto. I am a football egalitarian. It's about the game , not the competition. Football at this age is uncompetitive and so it should be.


We played a match tonight and we bloody well won it! Yesssss! get in there !!!!
And you know what? At 3-2 up with five minutes to go, I brought my best player back on and put him at sweeper. So sue me. we won!!!

I'll feel very guilty about his post in the morning but for now it's champagne and caviar.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wrexham 3-1 York

I went to the Racecourse tonight to test out my new lens before the internationals. And it's a good job I did. Memo to self: monopod needed by Friday.

I was also interested to see how Dean Saunders would do on his first home game. I've always liked Deano, and I think him and Wrexham are well matched. Both the club and the manager have a history of playing attractive football, and I think he'll be very successful.

He got a good welcome from the 5,100 crowd which I thought was pretty impressive. Espoecially when I saw signs advertising entrance for £17 above the away end. Some mistake surely. Do people pay £17 to watch a Conference game? There were still about 200 travelling York fans which also surprised me. It was a pity to see the Kop closed and empty though. It seemed to take the soul out of the ground.

The standard was pretty poor really. And a dull first half saw the teams evenly matched. Wrexham's loan signing Joe Allen is a class act, and I remember him starring for the Victory Shield team when they won the Championship a few years ago. If that's the calibre of player that Saunders can attract then Wrexham should be ok.

But time isn't on Deano's side. He's going to take some time to form a team of his own, so for now they need every point they can get. And they were a bit lucky to get any tonight.

York took the upper hand in the second half and should have gone ahead from a penalty. Gavin Ward did really well with a double save. I was impressed with him all night. I was only sitting a few feet away from him and he didn't stop talking to his defence throughout.

Once Wrexham scored from classy Joe Allen the win was pretty much inevitable. One thing that did impress me was the Wrexham celebrations. those players meant it, and I always think it's a good sign when a team celebrates wildly together.

I had my camera focused on Saunders for most of the latter stages. He was getting more and more edgy, and got frustrated once or twice with the referee, but nothing serious. I've got no idea what he must have said after Wrexham's 3rd goal to get himself sent off on his first game.
Welcome to management Deano.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

No scores in the paper for youth football

There was plenty of publicity given recently to the English FA's decision to make football non-competitive for U9 teams. Part of this development was the order given that results for these age groups should no longer be published in newspapers.

This has been the case in Wales for some time. The English youth policy is famously backward , and Wales' progressive coaching system was rearded years ago with JIRA approval from UEFA.
Football here is non-competitive until the Under 12 age group. And so it should be.

You would think then, that the local FA's and leagues would all be behind this policy. Think again. Our local League in Caernarfon insists that we provide teamsheets and scores for precisely this purpose. And in Thursday's Caernarfon Herald , you could happily read that Felinheli Under 9's lost 7-0.

Sour grapes you might think. Not at all. We win sometimes too, and I would stll object strongly to publication. The point is that we believe in football for all as prescribed by the FAW, (and therefore the NWCFA and its Leagues).

The minute you start attaching any significance to match scores, you pressurise team managers to select teams according to ability. Some teams already do that I know, to the detriment of late developers who are put off football early on.

It isn't a level playing field. There are often large squads of players at these games, and we play a second game for those who didnt play in the first. We treat these games with equal importance.
Every game is a friendly.

But not according to the Gwyrfai Junior League who threaten to fine clubs opposed to this outdated nonsense. If football is officially uncompetitive then scores are irrelevent. To publish them becomes farcical and should be stopped.

Bangor City 1-0 Connahs Quay

I've spent worse afternoons at the football. I was about to say, "but not many", unfortunately that wouldn't be true. My football watching life has been a turgid potpourri of mediocrity and tedium. Yesterday's recipe included lots of cold water.

My early morning had been spent watching Y Felinheli Under 7's play against Penrhosgarnedd at Treborth. That was wet too. My middle son Ifan was playing his second ever game, and he even kicked the ball once. There's progress for you.

I decided to visit Farrar Road in the afternoon, using my newly acquired Welsh Premiership photography accreditation. After my initial forays into photography, I've decided to step things up. I bought a new super duper telephoto from ebay and I'll be taking pics at the Wales internationals, so I used the biggest game of the day in North West Wales to get in some practise.

As the saying goes, "upgrade your ability before you upgrade your gear". Today's images were taking with my cheap old Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens while I await delivery of the next step up, a Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM Lens. (The things I write for search engine optimisation). You can see that the Tamron struggled in the low light.

So there I was in my lime green bib ready for some action. I waited....and waited. This really was a dull game, enjoyed only by Bangor's most fervent supporters. The type of people who stand out in the open end, even when there are perfectly good roofs on two of the stands.

I got soaked crouched at the side of the touchline. It was an interesting aspect, even though a cameraman doesn't actually see any of the best bits. As Sion Edwards breaks clear down the left one, you have to make an instant decision. Does my camera follow his tricky feet, or do I focus on Les Davies charging up the middle for my money shot?

I usually try to get the centre forward in the hope that I capture the exact moment when ball meets head, eyes focused and drops of water elegantly showering his forehead. So far, I only know what has happened by the sound of the crowd groaning as the ball has somehow cleared the stand. My camera catches Big Les's disappointment. I have thousands of pictures of Les looking disappointed.

Connah's Quay were organised. No matter how miserable and boring a game is, I always come away with a nugget that keeps me interested enough to go again. This time I was fascinated by the way that the whole defence would shout "don't foul, don't foul" whenever Bangor attacked.

They had obviously identified Bangor's set-piece as a danger and were disciplined enough not to give away many free kicks. It was good to see intelligence rather than machismo in a Welsh premier game.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Did Seb Coe really say that?

Mystery surrounds an apparent remark made by Olympic Chief Seb Coe yesterday. One eagle-eyed Londoner saw the following report on pahe 5 of thelondonpage.


Part of the report about the 2012 olympic team is "When asked last night about the opposition from the Welsh and the Scots , Coe replied bluntly :" F*** them ! "
A few other readers sent me links, but it seems that the Ministry for Truth has been in touch with reporters, and the story is now missing. Is anybody able to find a reference to this on the web and post a link?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ex-Felin lad moves to Bangor City

Interesting to read that Bangor City signed former Felinheli player Kevin Lloyd from Llangefni Town. I watched Kevin regularly at Felin a few years ago when he played in our first team at Welsh Alliance level when he was just sixteen years old.

Naturally as a youngster his form was patchy at the time, but he had the pace and quality which made him stand out. When Felin were relegated, he went to play at Bontnewydd, and I was surprised to see that he couldn't make the team there.

He's obviously come on a lot since moving to Llangefni, and it's good to see a young lad who is prepared to make the sacrifices that the Welsh Premier demands.

It's good too to see Bangor City giving opportunities to young lads like Kevin Lloyd, Cayo Iwan, and Mel McGuinness. I think the Cofis could take a leaf out of their book. There's plenty of local talent without scouring Merseyside.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bethel U9's 6-0 Y Felinheli U9's

That scoreline looks pretty bad, but when you consider that this was only a 30 minute game, it's even worse. 18-0 would be a more realistic scoreline over 90 minutes.

We all know what it's like. A strong team with no weaknesses faces a side that turns out mainly for social and leisurely reasons. A midfield bull charges through a petrified defence and creates any number of one-on-one's with a powerless goalkeeper. The ball hardly crosses the half way line, and when it does it is returned by a formaidable defence.

The opposing manager is watching the bloodbath and generously replaces his best players with subs. The subs are no weaker.

It made me wonder whether it's worth it. We are a village club with one small primary school. Year 4 is strangely devoid of football fanatics in Y Felinheli. Since we formed the club 3 years ago, 5 potential players have moved house to be replaced by childless families.

Year 5 is different. there are 15 good players. And below Year 4 there are 8-10 in each schoolyear who enjoy the game. But at registration tonight, I will probably only get 5 players signed up. Like last night's game, I will need to make up the side with 3 or 4 players from the U8's team.

Youth football operates in the same way as any level of the game. The best players tend to migrate to the best teams. I heard of one young player that told his coach that he left Felin to play for a Caernarfon side because it was like leaving Norwich to go and play for Liverpool. If there are any small villages in the area without a club, the real keen players from the village look outside. And naturally they choose a club that wins games and trophies.

There are also a few coaches in youth football that like to operate like Abramovich. They select the best players from the whole region and create some sort of superteam. They win every game with ease and present themselves with a trophy at the end of the season. But really, what's the point? By cherry-picking the best players they remove all opposition, and nobody benefits.

The worrying thing is that Bethel aren't a superteam. they're just a normal village side with a good reputation and a dcent catchment area from other villages. So we face a long hard season of struggling to scratch a team together and then facing a hammering in most games.

I sat my son down after last night's game and asked him what he wanted me to do. Is it worth the struggle to keep the team alive with so few players? His answer was yes, that we should represent the place where we live and if that meant losing then so be it. I was humbled, and disappointed with myself. I won't give up this easily, and I'll be stepping up my recruitment drive.

If you've got an 8 year old child with a soft spot for the underdog, get in touch. We've got a few feathers to ruffle.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Reclaiming Swim Away

Last night's television pictures have generated media interest in the "swim away" theme so beloved of the modern Swansea City fan.

Of course I have a personal interest in all this. I was in that car park post-match when we were attacked by our friends from Swansea. I ran up a dead end in the council offices while another group ran towards the Holiday Inn. The mob decided to chase the other group into the sea, while I was thankfully ignored.

A good friend of mine suggested on a public forum earlier that we should reclaim the "swim away" chant. In much the same way that we turned the sheepshaggers insult on its head, and now proudly bellow "1-0 to the sheepshaggers" he thinks we should start our own swim away chat.

This is a good idea I think. And I recommend that for the home game against the Jacks that we should combine this reclaiming with the post-modern ironic the return of the inflatables craze. I think we should take armbands, rubber rings and airbeds to wave at the snarling hordes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Swansea 1-0 Cardiff, League Cup, 23 Sep, 2008

I don't think anyone could argue that the best side didn't win. After the first 15 minutes Swansea outpassed the City, making the lads so frustrated that they charged and slid and mistimed every tackle. But how stupid is Stephen McFail? How many chances did he want? Yes, I think he won the ball for the crucial second yellow card, but it was inevitable the moment he decided to launch himself. McFail should be fined.

I was surprised to see Martinez's team so up for the game. I wasn't sure that the Spaniards would deal with a kick and rush event. I'd thought that Cardiff would dominate the match, but the midfield just couldn't get a grip. Ledley was sadly missing, and Parry's head is anywhere other than football these days. Swansea will do well to keep Martinez till the end of the season.

It meant a lot to the Jacks, and I can't begrudge them the victory. Nice to see the still fly the Union Jack alongside the dragon. If there is any team that defines itself by its hatred of its neighbour, then its Swansea. Yes, the Union Jack winds us up, but is it worth alienating the rest of Wales?

Imagine the conversation at Sky Sports. I know. we've got two Welsh sides. Let's get Ian Rush as our expert. he's Welsh isn't he? What's up? Wasn't Nessa available? Because she would have known more about the teams than the bloke from Flint. I look forward to the next London derby when the studio guest will be cheeky Cockney Kevin Keegan.

I felt strangely detatched watching it. I used to get worked up about the derby in the 80's but now, like a lot of City fans I have bigger things in my sights. I suppose it helps being miles away. I haven't actually come across a proper Jack since I was headbutted outside Cardiff Castle in 1994. I think the bloke that did it was at the game tonight wearing swimmies and armbands.

I'll be down for the League game at Ninian. I'm sure that will be a different affair, and it'll be a sad occasion for me as I remember some of the great derbies that I've seen on the past 30 years.
John Buchanan and Wayne Fereday will know what I mean.

U21's at Villa Park

After much discussion it appears that the Under 21's will play their crucial play-off game against England at Villa Park. I've got mixed feelings about that one. It would have been nice to get another trip to Wembley, but Villa Park is a fair bit closer. At the moment I fancy going, but that could change. I meet need to wash my hair, cut the grass or any other such diversion which seems to curtail my travelling these days.

One bloke that will feel at home is Gabriel Ablongahor, possibly England's most dangerous player at the moment. His presence will ensure a big crowd, and you get the sense that we're being set up as whipping boys.

Realistically we shouldn't have much of a chance over two legs. They murdered us at Wrexham last year when we had a team full of "stars". Now that six or seven of that team have progressed to Toshack's squad, we must be weaker. I know that our best results have been earned without the more recognisable names, but they're well known for a reason. They're good.

I expect to see Aaron Ramsey in the side, due to Toshack's mystifying selection policy regarding the Arsenal player. I also think Ched Evans will play if Bellamy returns to the senior side.

It's going to be pretty hard to call this one though. I expect a full house at Ninian and the boys need to be still in it when we travel to Birmingham. I don't know what sort of following we'll take. Most of the nutters will already be in Germany with the senior side. But maybe we can expect
1-2,000 to travel if we get a decent result in Cardiff?

It's a real shame that we win our group so well and have to go through this at all.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bangor City v FC Midtjylland, UEFA Cup, 2008

This was an interesting one. I bought a new camera today at lunchtime, and by the evning I was stood on the touchline at the Racecourse wearing a red bib and comparing my tiny zoom with some of the large erections used by the pros. Nonetheless, I got some decent pics which you can see here if you're interested. Which I'm sure you are.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Lino in the stand unmasked

Further to my post below wondering about the linesman in the stand at Reyjkavic, this picture has come to light.

I robbed it without permission from Adam Jones' Facebook page.

These people are senior business professionals . They are 40 years old. At least one of them is a politician.

They went to Iceland v Wales dressed as match officials. Quality.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Name and Shame the Welsh-not Pubs

This is a list of pubs in Wales which showed England v USA last night, and ignored Iceland v Wales. Please add any other pubs to the list:

Cardiff: The Claude
Llandudno : Every single pub
Llanberis : Prince of Wales

Iceland 0-1 Wales

What a goal! Something special to put on my website,

I was quite excited by last night's performance. Not because Iceland were any great shakes, but because at last, there is some hope for us. It's going to be a long road, and people like Ched Evans have fallen by the wayside before now. But let's hope he can keep going, and more importantly, that he can find a settled place at a club with a manager that is more interested in developing players than bagging himself 50k for buying players from Africa.

The first point of interest was Hennessey's save. That was simply astonishing. I don't remember seeing a better one recently, and in many ways it was a better piece of skill that Ched's goal.

Great to see Jack Collison on the pitch, apparently making it 30 new caps that Toshack has dished out. The estimable Nic Parry claimed that Bobby Gould only gave out one first cap - to Craig Bellamy. But didn't he cap a 16 year old Ryan Green, and also to Vinnie Jones?

At last we can see the end of the "Fletcher-Robinson" tunnel. With those two out of the side, we may even become attractive to watch. And at least with Evans and Vokes we have an option if the passing game becomes snuffed out. We haven't had that since John Hartson retired.

It's great to get a win, because it puts pressure on the "personal reasons" withdrawals. Now I have no idea what those personal reasons are (that's a lie actually), but you know what boys? There were lots of people watching in the stands who also have personal problems. I dare say there were people going through divorce, had buried their dog, or had lost their wallet, but they still made it. Your choice to not travel with your National football side sticks in the throat of the supporters.

Remember this was still a side without some of our Premiership players. Still no place for Danny Collins or John Oster. Tosh is creating his own little team in his image, I know, but that defence could surely do with Danny Collins' relative experience.

I was disappointed not to see Aaron Ramsey get a game. Could Tosh be protecting him due to his imminent transfer?

And finally, a word about the lady who sang the anthem. Well done to you. An Icelandic girl singing it word-perfect in Welsh. She put Tom Jones to shame and anyone else who can't be arsed to pick it up. The Welsh National Football Team included.

Linseman in the Crowd?

Linesman in the crowd?
Originally uploaded by Phil Stead
Reyjkavic, May 2008. Iceland v Wales. Carl Fletcher's about to get nobbled. They showed the action replay again and again, but I couldn't take my eyes off the crowd.

I noticed them when they arrived, 5 minutes late. You see I know that flag. Inter Ifor was a Sunday League team I used to play for in Cardiff, made up from regulars at Clwb Ifor Bach.

At first there was some silly little flag waving. But as this photo shows, Griggy appears to be getting a right old ticking off from a linesman. (As usual, he has no interest in the game). And the linesman is actually in the crowd. You can just see his flag in his left hand.

Look closer and they all appear to be linesmen. Now either this was a National Association of Referee Assistants end of season jolly, or somebody was taking the piss. And knowing the characters involved, my money's on the latter.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Big Test in the Algarve

While we are all still swanning round in our post-Wembley euphoria, and basking in the adulation gushed upon us by members of the National press, the pre-season tournament in the Algarve seems a natural step for a club on the up. It's certainly a long way from our historic pre-season warm ups against Hednesford and Forest Green Rovers.

But it's a big test for this new Cardiff City. Not on the pitch, where we will be watching the sporting equivalent of Ray Winstone in "Sexy Beast", but off it.

Prompted by Harry Redknapps pre-match call for the fans to stay behind at Wembley and applaud the winners, we have been beatified for our sporting good play. Whisper it, but we only stayed to give our own team a send off. And we've also been lauded for our good support and general enthusiasm. Well compared to the soporofic theatre attenders that normally view these events when they're contested by Manchester United or Chelsea, I suppose it was pretty raucous.

But hidden in this impressionistic view of our rattle clacking fans are countless stories of yobbery, ignorance and fuck-you attitudes. Once again, families were mixed in with the lads, and were forced to deal with loutish behaviour. The lads in turn were irritated by the "plastic fans" and their perceived lack of passion.

There's a culture shift at Ninian Park, and the two forces clashed at Wembley. Only verbally of course, but it left a nasty taste in the mouths of some parents who are usually cocooned in the relative calm of the Spar Family Stand.

So who will win? I think that depends on the footballing success achieved by the club. If they do well again this season, more new fans will be attracted who don't see posturing and abuse as a pre-requisite for passion. The old Stone Islanders will feel more and more disenfranchised.

And the pre season tournament in the Algarve will be an early test of the new era. Can we go there peacefully for games against Celtic and Vitoria Guimaraes, with Middlesbrough also mooching around? This will certainly be an attractive option for a family holiday, but everyone knows it might well kick off.

Can our lads cope with the sun and the lager? Can they party happily for a week with our friends from Glasgow and the North East? Or will the plastic chairs be flying when the sun comes down? I think our behaviour in the Algarve will pretty much be a mark of our progress away from the nasty unloved club of the 1980s and 1990s. And I'm afraid I'm not that confident.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Knocker breaks America

Knocker breaks America
Originally uploaded by Phil Stead
Somebody sent me this. It seems that the American media took a liking to Knocker. The pic was taken at the FA Cup semi final. Does anyone out there have a hard copy of the magazine they can scan?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

FA Cup Final, 2008

Well that was some journey. Not from Felin to Wembley, I mean the whole FA Cup thing. But in the end we lost, and that felt right. I was disappointed of course, but it suits me to lose. I'm used to it. Watching Cardiff City lose is like wearing a comfy pair of slippers instead of those Jimmy Choo stilletoes that we've been strutting around in for the past couple of months.

There's no doubt that having semi finals in Wembley is a bad thing. I felt like Man United fans must feel when they go to big games. There was a sense of familiarity about it all, and the pure adrenaline excitement of our first visit was replaced by a relaxed pride and the enthusiasm was generated by the sense of occasion rather than our environment. I've always been critical of big clubs treating any game at Wembley with disdain, but how many City fans would have gone back for the Charity Shield? Would we have sold out our allocation? I doubt it.

I know I always rattle on about the corporate package delivered to us at games now, but it has to stop. That bloody booming tannoy belting out pap is enjoyed by precisely no-one, except maybe the sort of people that bought the Do the Ayatollah CD.

I cried during Abide with Me of course, but why on earth do they allow Leslie Garrett to treat it like a Covent Garden performance? I've said it before and I'll say it again , in capital letters: "LET THE PEOPLE SING!!

I was disappointed but not surprised to hear our anthem booed and whistled. You could hear it even though they had turned Katherine Jenkins up so high that the background hum on her microphone sounded like an aeroplane taking off. I was surprised to hear our fans boo their anthem in response. I thought that the message had been received. How much cooler would it have been to stay silent? How stupid would Pompey have looked?

I thought the match was a disappointment. Jimmy Floyd showed that being a good player in 1996 counts for nothing now, whatever attention the English media pay you. Respect must go to Dave Jones for leaving Fowler out of the squad and ignoring the fairytale scenario being written by the press. Names alone don't win matches.

It literally looked like men against boys at times. The Portsmouth team seemed bigger, faster, more athletic. This is what Premiership money can get you. It's like having first pick in the playground. The Portsmouth team read like a list of United Nations diplomats. Do they bother producing their own footballers anymore? What do their Academy players think on looking at the first team and realising they haven't got a hope of making it?

I think Redknapp was cute. Any potential flowing Cardiff passing move was snubbed at source, legally or illegally. Portsmouth made 23 fouls to our 9. There was no way we could get into our rhythm with all the pushes, nudges, kicks and tugs. The resulting set piece was dealt with easily due to a combination of organised defence, with superior physique, and poor delivery from the free kick taker.

I didn't stay to see the Cup being presented to Portsmouth even though I had planned to. I knew what it would look like. And more to the point, what it would sound like. It would be the same as any other victory celebration these days: I presume they played Queen and Status Quo did they? Were there fireworks? Yawn... I bet they didn't even leave a minute of tannoy silence to let the Pompey chimes ring out.

There was more frustration as we left the stadium. I could practically see our car, but the police were forcing us to walk further and further away. Our 1.5 mile walk would soon become doubled. My complaints fell on deaf ears and some arrogance. "This is called crowd control" he grinned at me. Just like everything else at the FA Cup Final, it was Wembley plc who would decide what was best for me.

But in summary, I was proud. And what now? Can we move on from this? Can we become a big club? It will mean forgetting our past. No more can we be the scowling Stone Island club. We have to embrace new supporters. Some of them will wave flags, blow horns and wear scarves. Some of them, God forbid, might wear a Welsh rugby shirt. But if we really want more games at Wembley, we have to show a friendlier face to new fans, and also to potential sponsors. This could be the start of something big, or it could be a fond memory to look back on when we are old men.

Friday, May 16, 2008

FA Cup Final replica Shirt

FA Cup Final replica Shirt
Originally uploaded by Phil Stead
I don't buy replica shirts, but this was a must: This is how it was advertised.

"Your shirt will be embellished with full details of the fixture, making it a perfect keepsake for years to come. Pre-order shirt will be delivered to your chose address no later than Tuesday 13th May."

Well it arrived this morning, the day before I travel to Wembley, and I don't see any embroidery, do you? I really really hope this is a nostalgic nod towars the incompetence of the past, and not somebody trying to fob me off with old stock because they ran out of FA Cup Specials. Sadly I suspect it was a case of "chuck that in and hope he doesn't say anything". Why do I get so pissed off about things like this?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Welsh Language Football Coverage

With the build up to the FA Cup Final, the media has gone into overdrive and as the local Welsh-speaking Cardiff City rentagob, I've been doing a few interviews, mainly for Welsh Language media. I did my cabbage-patch kid impression on Sgorio last night, and it got me thinking.

There is so much good Welsh language sport coverage that 75% of Wales misses out on. The language problem doesn't make so much difference for live action where the picture is all, but journalistic sports coverage suffers badly from the cultural divide in Wales.

There was an excellent dramatised documentary on S4C this week called Cwpan Caerdydd which used an actor as Bartley Wilson re-enacting events around the 1927 Cup Final. It was the best researched and most interesting programme on the event that I've ever seen. But 90% of Cardiff fans will never see it.

Regular football shows such as Sgorio, and Ar y Marc, on the radio offer general Welsh football discussion of a type that just isn't available on English language stations. Sport Wales is a very welcome and overdue addition to BBC Wales output, but it's format is more presenter-feature. There is no round-the-table discussion common on British National TV, like Jimmy Hill's Morning Supplement or You're on Sky Sports. Radio Wales at least has a post-match phone-in, but it is nothing like Ar y Marc on Radio Cymru which is a magazine programme aimed at hardcore football fans in Wales.

Non-Welsh speaking readers won't appreciate the difference in content offered by Welsh language football coverage, but there is a subtle, but important angle taken by S4C programmes.

Programmes like Sgorio and Ar y Marc take the approach that a language is just that. It's a means of communication. It doesn't try to make political statements, or concentrate purely on Welsh issues. The producers are fully aware that a huge percentage of Welsh speaking viewers and listeners follow the English Premiership. Rather than aim to convert these people, the programme has features and discussions about Liverpool, Man United, the Champions League, La Liga. They don't have a narrow brief like Sport Wales. Nobody pretends that pubs in Caernarfon are full of lads discussing the merits of Leighton Maxwell instead of Steven Gerrard.

What Welsh produced, English-language programme offers its viewers any coverage outside of Wales? The assumption is that we can get our football discussion from Jimmy Hill. But that's not a valid argument. There needs to be some coverage of Global football from a Welsh perspective.

This is not to say that S4C neglects the Welsh domestic game. Far from it. Clwb Peldroed offers a weekly round up of Welsh Premier matches on a Saturday evening. Why is there no English language coverage? It's bizarre?

Welsh Premier football is being ghetto-ised by the media as a Welsh language vehicle. The reality is that the Welsh Premier is just like the rest of Wales - starkly divided on the language issue. More people who watch Welsh Premier football each week speak English than Welsh, yet they are given no coverage by BBC Television, none by BBC Radio, and next to nothing in the National Press. The Daily Post despite its depressing obsession with Liverpool and Everton at least covers the Welsh game. The Western Mail is simply astonishing in its thick-skinned promotion of rugby at the expense of Welsh Football.

The result of the media divide is that I am given the impression that the knowledge of the domestic football scene is now far greater amongst Welsh speakers. It isn't impossible to have a bar discussion about the dietary habits of John Hulse, the big gob of Wyn Thomas, or Mike Harris's latest crackpot wheeze. Players like Marc Lloyd Williams are feted in the Welsh language community as local heroes used to be. Is Jiws's standing in Llanberis and Bangor reflected anywhere else in Wales? Does 400-game Hugh Clarke get as much recognition in Newtown? Marc Lloyd Williams was a guest on Sgorio last night. When did we last see a Welsh Premier player featured on an English language show?

It shouldn't be like this. Welsh-based English language (I hate the term Anglo-Welsh) coverage should be allowed to look beyond Wales for its stories. But at the same time, it should offer monoglots the same detailed assessments of the domestic game that is offered to Welsh language viewers. They've got about 4 digital channels to fill - there must be room for a football chat show live from Llandaff? I'd watch it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Now do you give two shits Dave Kitson?

Back in January, this is what the Reading striker Dave Kitson said about the FA Cup.

He said: "We are not going to win the FA Cup and I do not give two shits about it, to be honest. I care about staying in the Premier League, as does everybody at this club. Our Premier League status is not protected by winning the FA Cup and it is as simple as that.

Today Reading were relegated. Next Saturday Cardiff City and Portsmouth will contest the FA Cup Final. How sweet is that?

Football is up shit creek when mediocre journeymen like Kitson can treat the FA Cup with disdain. What happened to glory? Doesn't Kitson recognise names like Jeff Astle, Bob Stokoe, Roger Osborne and Hughie Ferguson? These are men whose legacy will be or already is due to their FA Cup performances. What does Kitson care about? Is football glory about avoiding relegation? Will Barry Horne be feted for saving Everton's Premiership status with his cracker against Wimbledon, or will Everton fans remember Mike Trebilcock's performance in the 1966 FA Cup Final?

I had a conversation at Middlesbrough with a Cardiff City official. He disagreed with my assessment that it was the biggest game of my lifetime. He thought the league was much more important. I don't get it. When did promotion make you feel like this? Who ever produced songs about the play offs? The FA Cup is the dog's bollocks, and we're in the Final.

Meanwhile Dave Kitson will be sulking at home, watching on television. I'll give you a wave, Dave.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Bunny Rabbit Hooligans


Men dressed as superheroes, cartoon characters and cuddly toys were chased by police after reports of football-related trouble in Lincoln.

Police were called to Lincoln's High Street at about 1.15pm on Saturday, just before Lincoln City FC's final match of the season against already-relegated Wrexham at Sincil Bank.Several riot vans with sirens blaring descended on the High Street to tackle the trouble, which centred around the Anchor and Ritz pubs.

At one stage away team supporters, some of them in colourful fancy dress, attempted to run from police.Saturday afternoon shoppers looked on in bewilderment as officers chased a group of men - one dressed as a giant rabbit and another in a Pink Panther costume - through the streets.

Police said yesterday that two people had been arrested in connection with the disorder before the match, which Wrexham won 4-2.

Penalty Kids

A few weeks ago we held a Junior football tournament in Y Felinheli and our Under 9's team reached the semi-final against Menai Bridge.

The scores were level at full time and so we went to the golden goal. Two periods of 5 minutes extra time. Still 0-0.

We played another four periods and still it was scoreless.

People started to ask about penalties to decide the game, but I refused point blank. It was clear that penalties had no place in the junior game. The thinking is that the misery of one child who fails is not offset by the joy of the winning team. And quite right too. We eventually lost after 42 minutes of play.

Last weekend, I took a team to Llangefni's Junior Tounrament. Again, we reached a semi final.
Again, my boring tactics ensured a 0-0 draw, and there was no goal after extra time. "OK", said the referee."We go to penalties".

Penalties? Penalties? I couldn't believe it. My middle-class liberal soul was destitute. I couldn't be a part of this could I?

Inside I was buzzing. I chose my five penalty takers and made them stand in arms on the half-way line. They loved it.

I'm ashamed to say that when the little lad from Amlwch blasted his ball over the bar, I cheered. I should lose my coaching badge for that. It was shameful. Yet still, it was perhaps the most exciting moment of my time as a coach. And when our Dutch midfield maestro hammered home the winning kick, I skipped round Lon Talwrn like David Pleat back in the day.

I took an illicit pleasure out of those penalties. It was like watching cockfighting. We should never have put those kids through that, but bloody hell, we won. Somehow it didn't seem too bad after all.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bangor City Pitch Invasion

It's difficult to get too pompous about the Bangor City fans pitch invasion when they scored their last minute equaliser in the Welsh Cup Final against Llanelli on Sunday. We've all done it. Yes we have, come on admit it.

Pitch invasions are thrilling. they allow you to be part of the action for a second. To get right up close. to lose your head and run round a pitch wild in celebration. My last pitch invasion, away to Halifax in 1991 was just that. But that was way back then when we were all more innocent, when we ran on through gates left open by dozy stewards.

The removal of fencing in the nineties relied on some shared responsibility. We'll take that ugly fence down from your section of the ground if you promise not to run on the pitch. The stakes were raised. These days a pitch invasion is much more serious, and is treated as such. Cardiff's post-match celebration against Leeds on the pitch in 2003 was seen as some sort of riot, when in fact very little happened. I was on the pitch that day, as were 4,000 other normal people.

But really, any fan understands now that the touchline is sacrosanct. All sorts of problems are caused if you get over that line. You know the score. You go on the pitch and you are basically inviting the authorities to take action against your team. And I can't think for the life with me why anyone wants to celebrate with in-your-face aggression. The Mick Channon arm-twirl is plenty good enough for me.

Bangor's pitch invasion was ugly. There's no doubt it was spontaneous. Two men who should no better sprint into the net to kick the ball and fall over each other like Laurel and Hardy. Elsewhere, unbridled joy was released like a champagne cork and out fizzed the fans, ejaculated onto the pitch by their own powerful exhultation. The patchwork appearance of Latham Park, and the disorganisation of the yellow jackets just made the whole thing look a real mess. Bangor fans who went on the pitch to help remove their mates unfortunately added to the general air of chaos.

One bloke went straight to the Llenelli keeper and squared up to him. He turned round and went to square up to Andy Legg. He is alleged to have spat at him. Spitting at a cancer survivor. Nice. He poked him in the face for good measure.

Meanwhile the youngsters have seen their chance to be involved in something a bit naughty. Off they go. they hurtle around the pitch and one of them pushes the keeper in the back. He went down like Andy D'Urso when pushed by Paulo Di Canio. He lies down for a bit and then thinks better of it.

But here's the best bit. Watch the video . There's an act of voodoo that takes place 31 seconds in. In this series of pics, you can see Duncan Roberts, the big Llanelli goalkeeper. In Pic 1, he is standing up and having a word woth a steward. In pic 2, we can see the white shirted Peter Nicholas approaching - the Llanelli. What happens next is magic. Nicholas obviously says something to the 6ft 3" keeper to make him collapse like a fallen tree. Wow! Who needs David Blaine? I wonder what he could have said?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Fowler? No thank you

Dave Jones has to be taking the piss when he says that Fowler might get a place in his Cup Final squad. I don't care if he can climb Snowdon in 5 minutes, he doesn't deserve a sniff of a place.

Has Jones forgotten what the football was like with Fowler in the team. Has he forgotten how badly the midfield were stifled because Fowler just couldn't make a run ?

Cardiff's resurrection this season has been down to the lucky success of Paul Parry as a striker. Our good form has coincided almost entirely with the availability of Parry to the side. Jimmy Ffloyd is basically a big fat arsed galoot with the movement of a porcupine, but at least he has some presence about him. If Fowler is selected alongside JFH, then I will bet my house on a Portsmouth victory.

I remember the League Cup game at Anfield this season. We actually dominated that game, and if we'd had Parry up front instead of Fowler I'm sure we'd have won it. Fowler's presence is actually a negative for the team. I'd rather play with ten men.

I always suspected that Dave Jones was a little star struck when he signed Fowler despite his recent abysmal record. He might be good at golf Dave, but don't you dare risk our club's history on your cosy little relationship with a has-been, and the pressure that will now be forced on you by the media as they look for this year's dream scenario.

No Welsh Cup on the BBC?

I'm writing about the incidents at yesterday's Welsh Cup Final in my column for Golwg this week, so there won't be any discussion on that here. Well done though, to Bangor for a fantastic win.

But I'm writing this as more of an appeal. Can anyone find a match report, or even any mention of the game on the BBC website? It's bizarre. It's like the biggest story in Welsh football this weekend never happened.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Cardiffvision Song Contest

Time for a review of the offerings served up by various parties as the Cardiff City FA Cup Final song.

1. James Fox - Bluebirds Flying HIgh

You know it's strange. I couldn't wait to mock this effort and when I heard the liune about Peter Ridsdale, I knew I could be safely cynical and rip the piss mercilessly. BUt I watched it again yesterday, and I welled up. Bloody Hell. Once you get past that Ridsdale line, it's OK actually. It's the sort of thing you want the club to release. It's catchy, cheesy, but there is a grain of authenticity lent to it by Fox, who is a proper City fan by all accounts. And one line is a pearler; "From the Canton to the Grange End let it roar". And yes, it is the Canton, and not the Spar bloody Family Stand. I think what got me all emotional was the whole thing of Cardiff City making an FA Cup Final song for God's sake. The video of the team in the studio is bizarre. What the hell is dangermouse doing there? And why are they eating? There is a clip of Paul Parry mumbling the words and Peter Ridsdale doing his best like a school teacher in Assembly. But apart from that, there's nothing to show that the team actually sings on the record. But who cares? It's our FA Cup Final song.

2.Leighton James Don't Like Us

This one came totally out of the blue. When I heard there was a Soul Crew song I feared the worst. It couldn't be any good, and I prejudged it with my customary aloofness. But bloody hell, it's cracking.
I don't think I know the lad singing it, but he's hit just the right note. I love the video and I think this is the best of the lot. Youtube pulled it down for some reason. Probably the mild references to hooliganism, though with the dozens of violent hoolie clips out there, I can't see why. Maybe Leighton James complained? More likely the BBC, who are known to employ youtube spotters. It's a pity that it references Swansea so much. I mean, we're in an FA Cup Final...why are you even thinking of Swansea? but nonetheless, it's a great production and the video is superb.
It isn't anything to do with the Soul Crew really of course. They don't actually exist as an organisation. But it's funny how City fans have taken that group of Pringle-wearing Docks lads from 1982, and turned them into some sort of cuddly rascals that we can laugh about. Oh what fun we had when Swansea ran away on new Years Day.

3.Rob Woodward : Do the Ayatollah!

Karl Woodward is a well respected and well-loved journalist who has written on Cardiff City for many years for the Western Mail. Rob Woodward is his son, and he is a "comedian".
Rob Woodward is also undeniably naff. He's a safe pair of hands on stage and is without doubt the Welsh Michael Barrymore.
The first version I heard of this song had him singing in an Indian accent. I think the poor reaction to that effort made him re-record and here he has this exagerrated Cardiff accent which sounds pitiful, especially in those spoken bits where he says funny stuff. The video is excrutiating. He wears a yellow polo shirt under his City top, and his jeans ...well, I don't want to be cruel. I'm glad the song was made because it probably appeals to a certain denomination of fans - those who also watch the Cardifff Devils perhaps. But for a snob like me it's mortifying.

4.Helen Love: Cardiff City Superstars Wembley Mix

Let me declare an interest here. I made this video. It's not one of my better efforts but it was done at short notice and I had technical problems and the dog ate my homework. Yes, I am in it, but then Hitchcock and Tarrantino appeared in their own films too.
I was told that the Super Furries were making a song for the final, so I was a little disappinted that it turned out to be a re-hash of this 1990s track from Helen Love. I'm not sure which of the Furries was involved but I think it might just have been Cian Ciaran.
This is the top choice for us white middle class, studenty fanzine type who cut their teeth in the post-Hillsborough football love-in. It was one of the first post-modern ironic football songs from that era, and I've got the original single on 7". The lyrics are sublime, with name checks for Scoular and Harry Parsons making this the most authentic nostalgia fest. It places the Cup Final in the Grand scheme of things, and gives the event a sense of perspective in our miserable little history.

5. Ian Hunter: Bluebird

I'm not sure this should be included. It's just a collage of clips over an old track by someone called Ian Hunter. I'll admit that I have no idea who Ian Hunter is, but it sounds like someone who was once a member of a famous group, maybe Free or Van der Graaf Generator. That said, the tune is cool, and the video is lovely.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cardiff City Superstars Wembley Mix

Good riddance Mansfield

Mansfield were relegated from the 3rd Division last night. Thank God for that. Hopefully I'll never have to go to Mansfield again.

There are some places you just take against. I remember going to Mansfield for the first time in 1993, the Saturday after we had been to Liege to watch City in the Cup Winner's Cup. If I remember correctly, a week earlier we had played Millwall away. And then we had to go to bloody Mansfield.

I had the flu. It was an open terrace and it was raining. It was quite the most miserable afternoon anyone could hope for. And then on the way out, and I'll never forget this, their poxy little excuse of a football firm, called The Carrot Crew, cornered me and mocked my clothing. Unbelievable. I had the flu for God's sake, so what if I was wearing my cosy Fruit of the Loom sweatshirt.

Then about a decade later we played Mansfield in an end of the season affair. It was fancy dress I was told, so I dressed up as a woman. Typically I boarded the coach to find everyone else in various shades of grey - not a clown in sight. Oh well. I drunk so much and so quickly at the pre-match pub stop that I was sick against the bus. If I remember correctly there was a bottle of Gold Label involved.

Then when we got to Mansfield I got lost. I wandered round terraced streets in drag, with my Tina Turner wig on. At least there was no Carrot Crew this time. Oh no, this time I ran into Forest's firm ; about 30 of them. There was no choice, I would have to braisen it out. I walked straight through the middle of them, said "Hiya Boys", and winked. To this day I don't know how I got out alive.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why are our balls so big?

I popped into a City Centre sportshop the other day on the lookout for a football. Just a normal ball for a seven year old lad. You think I could find one?

It wasn't that they didn't have balls, they had loads. they had one that cost £75. (Because it had Euro 2008 stamped on it. Don't UEFA know how to look after their football family?). But they didn't have any footballs for children.

I then nipped into Tesco (full of self-hatred of course). They keep their footballs in with the the children's toys. But every one of them was a full sized, size 5 football. What's the problem you might ask? A football's a football isn't it?

Well no it isn't. Under 8 players should be using a size 3 football. This is for a couple of good reasons. The first is a health and safety issue. Young players just don't have muscles developed well enough to be able to cope with prolonged use of a full sized ball. My own son regularly gets size 5 balls as gifts from well meaning parents and relatives. And it seems churlish not to let him play with it. At least it did until he had that sleepless night in pain after 4 hours of shooting practice with his mate.

The other reason is that a smaller ball is simply better for their technical development. It's a little harder to control, and the sweet spot is a little smaller. But the action they use to kick a size 3 ball replicates the action an adult will use with a full size ball. If you ask a little player to kick on over-sized ball, all their effort goes into just making it move.

THe Brazilians develop their skills through a game called futebol de salao. Generations of Brazilian footballers grew up playing a game with a size 2 ball. And they're not bad are they?

But the message doesn't seem to have reached all of our own coaches. there is still some sort of ridiculous macho kudos attached to playing with a bigger ball. I played an Under 8's game recently against a team run by a well qualified Academy coach. I was surprised to see his team use a Size 4 ball. When I brought this up he scoffed; "Oh, we breed big lads in Abercwmscwff." I saw an Under 9's game last weekend when the home team insisted on a size 5 ball. The 7 year old goalkeeper could hardly clear his box, but the home team's giant centre forward scored five goals.

I feel strongly enough about this that I think there should be some sort of control over ball sales. Why on earth are Tesco allowed to sell only size 5 balls? I'm sure the vast majority of their football sales are intended for use by children. Why is there no information given to parents at point of sales?

Here's the important information.

Size 3
Size 3 balls are the smallest balls and are generally used for children under the age of 8
These balls are generally 23-24 inches in circumference and weigh between 11-12 ounces

Size 4
Size 4 balls are used for players between the ages of 8-12
Size 4 balls weigh between 12-13 ounces and have a circumference of 25-26 inches

Size 5
This is the international standard match ball for all ages 13 and older, including all adult play
The size 5 ball weighs between 14-16 ounces with a circumference of 27-28 inches

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Caernarfon Wanderers 1-3 Y Felinheli

After an unfulfilling season, Felin managed to reach a Cup Final this afternoon when they beat the newly formed Caernarfon Wanderers
3-1 on a windy and exposed Cae Top.

Felin were up against it from early on when they lost two influential players, Jason Bayliss and Danny Hughes to injury within the first ten minutes. After a competitive first half livened up by the usual antics of our player-manager Chris Hughes the teams went in at 0-0 which was a fair score at the time.

Felin took the lead through Chris Hughes after about an hour and never really seemed in danger of losing the game. I was just thinking how comfortable we were when Wanderers equalised.

With twenty minutes left our energy levels dropped alarmingly, and then when our keepr Marc Wyn was carried off injured, the momentum seemed to swing to the home side. Chris Hughes took over in goal.

It looked like the only we would score a goal would be through a defensive mistake and so it proved. With five minutes left, a long Chris Hughes kickout was fumbled by his opposition goalkeeper and Carwyn Dafydd finished well.

A minute later, Carwyn squared for Archie to finish things off and we were in the Final. I'm not sure which Cup, against which team, where or when, but I know it's a Final and that's something to celebrate.

During the game we had used six players from last season's Under 17s team which is something that we can all be proud of.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cardiff to represent England

Well, well, well. In the news today:

An FA statement said:

The board has given full approval for Cardiff City to participate in next season’s Uefa Cup as one of England’s representatives, should they win this season’s FA Cup. It was also decided that the Welsh national anthem would also be played ahead of the game.”

This is a turnaround that has surprised me greatly. Firstly the news that Cardiff will represent the English FA. This has enormous implications.

By following this route to Europe, Cardiff have effectively ruled out any return to European Competition via the Welsh Cup. Instead of using this opportunity to leverage their claim for UEFA Cup football via participation in the Welsh Cup, they have gone down the English route.

Now that's bad planning by any measure. It could well be another 80 years before they get this close to Europe in the English system, but Welsh Cup victories would probably come along ever other year. So instead of potentially playing European football regularly over the next decade, they will probably have just this one shot. Amazingly short-sighted.

On the other hand, has the FA's decision guaranteed the club's future in the English system? It looks like it. It seems that UEFA and the FA are officially recognising Cardiff's unique position as a Welsh club within the English system. There will be no imminent threat of political manouvering and Cardiff won't be forced to play under the Welsh FA's pyramid. Now that's good news for the club. It also means that any concerns about claiming future promotion to the English premiership have gone.

I am astounded that the Welsh anthem will be played. That is a magnificent coup for Wales. Wales' status as an independent nation is being recognised on the World stage. Even though we have no political independence the FA are tipping their hat to our cultural claims. I can't think of any precedent for that. Teams from the Basque Country, Brittany and Catalunya will be preparing requests for their own anthems at Cup Finals across Europe. It's that big.

Of course pragmatically, the FA are just trying to keep the peace. They will remember the serious crowd trouble that occured after God Save the Queen was played at Wembley before the Swansea v Northampton play-off in 1997. The thinking will be that if we get the Welsh National Anthem, then we will be less inclined to boo God Save the Queen, thus avoiding an awkward and potentially explosive situation. It will certainly help, though I think the FA may be over-estimating the evaluating skills of the average meathead.

Either way, we will get to sing Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau at Wembley. Let's all learn the words, through off our scowls and posturing and self-consciousness, and let's bloody outsing the English. Pleease try to sing a bit more than the "Gwlad, gwlad" in the middle. And for God sake, don't let Tom Jones anywhere near it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tom Jones Sings the anthem

It was quite a performance. If you haven't heard Tom Jones' attempts at the National Anthem before Joe Calzaghe's fight in Las Vegas against Bernard Hopkins this weekend, then here it is.

Now I love Tom. But this was embarrassing. He's a professional singer. Opera singers might learn to speak a dozen languages fluently. It wouldn't be unusual for Bryn Terfel to have to sing a 3 hour show in Czech.

Like me Tom Jones is from Pontypridd. People in his generation might not have learnt Welsh, but they can certainly say "Ll, Ch, and Dd". What was Tom thinking of? He must have had a language coach? Were they completely honest with him? Or did they have the same conversation that I understand Bryn Terfel had with his good friend after the fight? (Bryn had cleverly arranged a concert in Las Vegas for the same weekend.)

TJ: "Bryn, how was I? Did I sing it well?"
BT: "Yes Tom, you were very erm...passionate."

Yeah passionate as a newt I reckon.

Poor Old Wrexham

So at least they have been put out of their misery. Wales' oldest surviving professional club have been relegated into the Conference, following Newport County who went awol twenty years ago.

So let the mud slinging begin. Who's fault is it? Dickens the Chairman? Brian Little the Manager? Complacent players sloshing around Chester's bars suuporting the rumoured piss-up culture at the club last season? I think the answer lies closer to home unfortunately.

Wrexham FC have just never had the support of the North Wales public. The front cover of the North Wales Daily Post led with Liverpool's draw last night, announcing Wrexham's demise as an afterthought. That just about tells you everything you need to know. Liverpool are the main side in North Wales, followed closely by Manchester United, Everton and even Manchester City. Wrexham might be looked on as a plucky second team, but they're not even that for most.

A lot of South Walians reading this will find it strange. If you're North-Walian, you must be a Wrexham fan they assume. I mean who else is there? Well there are lots of teams actually. And somebody from Holyhead or Bangor is generally no more likely to have a connection with Wrexham than Cardiff people are to follow Swansea. Indeed, if they want to follow a professional a Welsh team then they are more likely to look further afield to Cardiff.

So the average North Walian will be a fan of a big Lancastrian club. He may have a season ticket, or he may go to Anfield three times a year. Every other Saturday will probably be spent following his village side. His two sides are Liverpool and Ragged Arse Rovers. Wrexham don't really come into it.

I'll attempt a curious analogy. Take a theatre-goer from Anglesey. She loves the West End shows, and will often go to Llandudno Theatre for big opera productions, or performances of Oliver. She will also help run the local amateur dramatics society in Llangristiolus and will attend events in the Church Hall. But somehow, the performance of Siwan in Theatre Gwynedd this weekend won't be so attractive. It falls between two stools, just like Wrexham FC. It's neither part of her community, nor glamorous enough to warrant a bit of slap and a fur coat.

I fear for Wrexham, I really do. They have one chance. One season with an umbrella payment. But the Conference is a very strong league, and I'm not sure that Wrexham have the backing to compete. And that would be a disaster not just for Wrexham, or for North Wales, but for the whole of Welsh football. We will lose a respected academy, and a whole generation of young players will be lost.

Ironically, Wrexham Academy opened a new Development Centre in Bangor last week. It's another area where Wrexham are important. Thirty young lads are being introduced to good habits by good coaches early on in their career. This sort of work may carry on when they are in the Conference-North, but I honestly doubt it.

But all across North Wales now, people are talking about the big football story over their tea and biscuits. Some will be laughing and taking the piss. More will be defensive and proud. they can recover from this set back. But believe me it's the biggest topic of conversation all across Gwynedd, Conwy and Clwyd. What was Jon Arne Riise thinking of? Can Liverpool now get a result at Stamford Bridge? What's that you say? Wrexham? Who are dey?

And that's why Wrexham went down.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Swim Away

According to reports, former Swansea defender Izzy Iriekpen gave the swim-away gesture to Cardiff fans at Scunthorpe on Saturday, as they were celebrating Joe Ledley's equaliser.

You may be wondering what that's all about. Well it's a simple breast stroke action performed to provoke Cardiff fans, relating to an incident between two sets of supporters back in the day. Back in which day? Well I'm not quite sure.

I had always believed that I was present when it happened. There was a game at the Vetch in the early 1990s which took place over the Christmas Holidays. I arrived at Cardiff Central only to find that there were no trains that day. I picked up a couple of fellow City fans at the station and I decided to drive to The Vetch.

I parked up opposite the prison and made my way to the ground via Glamorgan Terrace. I don't remember anything of the game at all, but I do remember that we didn't have our usual large following out that day. And I remember being surprised that we weren't kept behind while they cleared the area.

As we reached the car park near the Crown Courts on the sea front, I could see a mob of Jacks on the main road. They saw straight away that we were pretty vulnerable and came straight at us. I'm not ashamed to say that I legged it. Straight up a blocked alleyway. I turned round expecting to get a kicking, and was relieved to see that the mob of Swansea were busy persuing a group of City fans up towards the Holiday Inn.

As I made my way to the car, fights were breaking out all over the car park. Not a policeman in sight. It was chaos. I then sat in the jam of vehicles trying to get out of the car parks as running battles continued. Pretty unpleasant stuff.

I heard much later that the Swansea mob had chased that group of Cardiff fans right into the sea. And it was from this event that the "swim-away" insult was derived. the Western Mail however, mentions "an incident near Port Talbot". I had understood that it was Cardiff fans from Port Talbot who were run into the sea, so maybe the story has got confused somewhere.

Either way, it was a pretty crass act from Irikpen. I'm not sure that he did himself any favours with his actions. I have also seen the young Swansea player Joe Allen celebrate a goal for Wales Schools with a swim-away celebration. At least he has the naiivety of youth as an excuse. Iriekpen has only ignorance.

Bangor City Reserves 1-2 Y Felinheli

A match against Bangor Reserves gives our village footballers the opportunity to play in a proper stadium with seats and a tunnel and everything. And don't they enjoy it.

This was the Quarter Finals of one of the 632 Cup Competitions run by the Gwynedd FA every season. We have more Cup matches than League. A big crowd of 74 , including a travelling support of 23 watched the Caernarfon League side dump the young hopefuls of the big City out of the Cup.

This really was a young Bangor side, drawn from the Academy. And they were pretty impressive. They tried to play football in the face of some pretty uncompromising football from Felin, and it took Felin's best performance of the season to keep them out. I was very impressed with the attitude of their manager. As the tackles flew in, he kept his head and simply told his young players to keep the ball on the floor. Bangor's academy has an excellent reputation, and I could see why on this performance.

We have our own reasons to be proud in Felin. In 1992, we were just 90 minutes away from the Cymru Alliance and when I first moved to the village 3 years ago we were playing in the Welsh Alliance. But a new policy of not paying our players has seen us relegated twice to our current level in the Caernarfon League.

But this policy has its benefits. Our team last night featured nine lads from the village and we are giving lads the chance to play for their home team. That's got to be a good thing. We formed a Youth Section in 2005 and last night's team contained 5 players from our Youth setup.

It will have been a good experience for the Bangor City lads who are being developed to play in the tough and uncompromising environment of the Welsh Premier. Felin gave no quarter and in some challenges it was apparent who was the student and who was the hod-carrier. I winced more than once.

Playing for Bangor was Caio Iwan, the son of singer and politician Dafydd Iwan. Iwan looks like a natural footballer with a decent future and has recently been playing with the Wales Under 18s team.

So it's the semis for us on Saturday, and I'll be there instead of travelling to Burnley with Cardiff. I don't know where and against who. I don't even know what Cup it is, but its our last chance of silverware this season and I'm hoping for a Cup Double from my two teams.

Freedom to Play

We held a Junior football tournament in my village last weekend for teams of Under 9's and Under 7's. 22 teams from across Gwynedd and Anglesey played short games of 10 minutes on 2 small pitches. It was great to see so many boys and girls playing football, but other aspects of the tournement were less edifying.

My over-riding memory of the whole thing is the frenzied barking of some team coaches during the games. It was pretty unbelieveable on occasions. Tracksuited men marched onto the pitch shouting "Be alert!", "Awareness!!" and "Concentrate Hogia!" Small children as young a 6 years old stared wide eyed as the Neil Warnock wannabes screamed at them to pick up their man.

It wasn't unexpected of course - we had erected barriers away from the pitch to provide a protective channel from the parents. But the coaches were unstoppable. I saw one team put 4 coaches on the touchlines - one in each corner so that they could coach their team more easily.
This was great - it meant that their team were now receiving four sets of instructions from their role models. "Drop deep! Move up! Hit it Long! Boys! You went to sleep there!"

What are we doing here? Is this any help to the players? I don't believe that it is. The whole sorry performance drove me to behave in the exact opposite manner. I just let my team deal with things. I pulled back my goal hanging midfielder when he was deep in conversation with the opposition goalkeeper for 5 minutes, but apart from that I decided to let them have their heads.

And guess what? They did fine. They would certainly have been no better with me dictating things. And I'd like to think that they enjoyed their day. You only have to look at their faces when they are standing next to a red-faced opposition coach who is screaming at his players to know that it is pretty intimidating and obviously unpleasant for them.

The FAW's Football Leaders Award (Level 1 Coaching Award) deals with this kind of issue in great depth. 80% of that course concentrates on adult behaviour around the junior game. Every coach at that tournament would have passed the award, but its lessons have obviously not sunk in.

Once that final whistle goes, these men turn back into the decent, caring blokes who volunteer so much of their time to help young people. But for those 10 minutes it's like the most important match in the world to some of them, and they kick every ball. For once, I'm happy to trot out the old platitude that "it's only a game".

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Welsh Anthem at Wembley?

Let me nail my colours to the mast. I've voted Plaid Cymru all my life. For a short time I was treasurer of the Adamsdown branch. But sometimes, the flag-waving nationalism gets a little embarrassing. That's why I've ignored Rhodri Glyn Thomas's call for Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau to be played at Wembley.

Firstly, I'm not sure what platform Rhodri is using when he decides to comment on the issue. As a Welsh Assembly member? For Carmarthen? Maybe I could remind Mr Thomas that Carmarthen Town FC play in the Welsh Premier, and to his credit he has lent his support to the club previously. But please, stay out of this one. It's got nothing to do with you.

There is a fundamental issue at stake here, regarding Welsh independence. Like it or not, God Save the Queen is the British Anthem, and Wales has declined to vote for independence. A shame in my opinion, but democracy must be respected. You could argue that the English anthem won't be played (they don't have one), so why should the Welsh?

If it is so important to hear the National Anthem before the cup final, then Cardiff City can play in Wales. It's as simple as that. Our own Cup Final is being played between Llanelli and Bangor City at Newtown on 4th May. The winners will receive the oldest trophy in football, dating from 1878.

But for very good business and sporting reasons, Cardiff City rely on the munificence of the FA (so self-important they don't even prefix it and call it the English FA.) Yes, historically we were there pretty much at the beginning, and its questionable whether it was ever a uniquely English competition, but as it stands it is recognised as the English Cup. In Welsh, the translation for FA Cup is Cwpan Lloegr, "The English Cup".

I think most people accept that playing of the Welsh anthem would be inappropriate. I'm not sure that there is even a serious amount of backing for the idea. It's the sort of thing that fills newspaper columns and radio phone-ins, but it's wrong on so many levels that there can be no credible argument for it.

If TNS (who play in Oswestry) reach the Welsh Cup Final, will they play God Save the Queen?
I wonder if the Catalan anthem gets played at the Copa del Rey when Barcelona reach the Final. Did Derry City play God Save the Queen for the 2006 Irish Cup Final? I doubt it very much. Derry is a fiercely Irish club, despite their geographical situation.

But that's the important bit. Cardiff City is just a football club. It isn't a flag bearer for the Welsh Nation. The club's national identity is magnified because we play in England, but really it's just a club. Look closely. What is Welsh about it other than its location? What does being Welsh mean in the modern day?

We're getting too philosophical here. It's just a football match being played in the English Cup in England. There are major questions about God Save the Queen's status as a British anthem, but that's another story. The FA Cup Final has nothing to do with nationhood or national identity. Cardiff City will do its bit for the Welsh nation just by being there. And we will take our flags and 5,000 of us (but not me) will boo the British Anthem. And then 30,000 neutrals, and the English referee will become Portsmouth fans for the day. But Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau? Not today thank you.