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.