Whilst SW19’s very own Man in Black was discovering his Irish roots at a football match in Glasgow (geography may not be his strong point), I ventured from the genteel surroundings of Chalfont to the wilds of the Welsh border country to fill his (admittedly small) boots at Wales 1 Japanese Harpoonists 1. The Newport Stadium was as nice as you get at this level except for having an athletics track to make viewing harder- a sort of pre-apocalypse version of Feltham with added grass and sunshine. In keeping with our generally good pre-season form we held our own against opposition two steps higher up the footballing ladder, with Gavin Bolger netting in the first half after an inspired counterattack involving Jamie Angell, Wade Falana, Ally and Sully. Things got a bit heated after that, and my early scamper to the bar at half time meant that I had a poor view of a melee that (allegedly) involved Sids head-butting a Newport player twice – presumably under severe provocation as even Danny O only usually nuts them once. The second half stayed competitive and Ray Merry made a couple of good saves before a DO aberration (in an otherwise solid performance) allowed their striker in to equalise. More substitutions from each side led to the game petering out, and the kids flocked back to the bucking rodeo ride during the last five minutes.
Well, its onto the sound bites you’ve all been waiting for â€¦
Plus points: It was sunny, the bar had real glass glasses and we didn’t lose. The team is shaping up nicely and whilst the first choice XI may not be a lot stronger than last year, the depth of the squad has hugely improved.
Minus points: It was f***ing hot, you couldn’t take the real glasses out of the bar and we didn’t win. Matt Everhard (Â© REPD) went off injured and our discipline still looks a little suspect – but at least we now have players good enough to cover those missing without fear of a Hartley Wintney type of performance,
The referee’s a …….. : Didn’t really notice him to be honest. Might have formed an opinion if I had been close enough to the pre-half time punch-up â€¦
Them: Laid on a “family fun day” with bouncy castle, bucking bronco and a live band – not to mention a “Boxercise” demonstration at half-time which I (thankfully) missed as Jertzee was generously buying me a pint in the bar. Very friendly and welcoming from everything I saw, and provided the most surreal pre-match entertainment I’ve seen for a long time â€¦
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Mascots. Lots of Mascots. A veritable host of bloody mascots. Prior to the game we were introduced to “Taffy the Dragon”, “Duncan the Dragon”, “Freddy the Fox”, “Harry the Heart”, his girlfriend “Harriet the Heart”, local favourite “Spytty the Dog” (no, I haven’t a clue either) and the amazing “Chunky Cheese”. As I was wondering if this was a franchise-esque exercise in trying to increase the attendance, it turned out that they were going to take part in a race. It was to be run over 80m for most of the mascots, 90m for Harry and Harriet (apparently not having a head gave them an advantage) and the full 100m for poor Chunky who was presumably penalised for smelling a bit off. As the race started, the PA announced that he had had a call from John Fashanu and he knew who was going to win – and as the home runner Spytty took the flag by a long nose from Harry I knew that the fix-meister hadn’t lost his (alleged) touch. (2) A pitch-side advert for “Crook and Blight” estate agents. Would you buy from them?
Quotes: (1) “Are you Dunford in disguise?” – the Webmaster of another AFC site hounding the Newport mascot “Spytty the Dog” with a rather bizarre taunt. Perhaps P*** R****** (name withheld – badly) knows something about REPD that I don’t â€¦ [SW19 explanation: this is down to an incident involving Deepdale Duck at PNE a couple of years ago, where it was suggested it would be a good job for me…] (2) “Welsh Soul Food” – Moleking’s upbeat assessment of the meal I consumed at KFC just prior to arriving at the ground.
Chants would be a fine thing: Must have been the best part of 500 Dons there for the game, and the sun/drink combination ensured that the full two-verse Champagne song got a proper outing, along with a range of golden oldies and new AFC ditties. More opposition fans than I think I’ve seen at any AFC game to date, but no real singing from them,
Franchise FC watch: I don’t – frankly who gives a shit anymore?
Point to ponder: (1) Would 500 fans have gone to Wales for a league game two years ago, let alone a friendly? (2): Why do they charge you to get into Wales rather than to get out? Someone hasn’t done his or her market research â€¦
Anything else? If we play there again next year, can we enter Tobermoray into the race?
So, was it worth it? The first time I’ve seen the Dons on foreign soil (I went to Charleroi for the Inter-Toto Cup game but the bastards kicked off early so I missed it) so a proud moment. And we get to keep half a trophy – can we weld it to the half we won from Leatherhead ?
In a nutshell: Oh what fun it is to see the Wombles draw away â€¦