Producing this eagerly awaited column from the my writing desk in the library at Toggie Towers, overlooking my vast picturesque grounds, I thought I would preface this offering by mentioning Friday night’s most enjoyable Sportsman’s Evening at DCS. Many of the STISA committee and several members in the audience were treated to entertainment of “adult tendency” and banqueting of high quality.
Sean Percival from Dudley went close to the knuckle
But, oh boy, did we raucously chuckle !
Don Goodman, ex-footballer, the midlander “Tyke”
Told tales of what his managers were like.
The ladies from the kitchen brought out tasty food
As hungry punters table by table were queued
Be it beef bourguignon and mash or curry with rice
It was, I can tell you, exceedingly nice !
So back to Saturday.
Setting off a little late (!) the on-board numbers were not high. The “Gaffer” was not on board (missing the coach due to working late) nor was Paul Eden who, I guess, was still in bed jet lagged. Steve Tunnicliffe was Carl’s chauffer, with whom Hughes senior and junior also travelled.
The town of Merthyr was our destination
In truth, it was with great trepidation
I will not bore you with the route. which was undertaken with no mishaps, The weather was surprisingly bright, especially when we entered the Principality. In fact the brighter sunshine gave pleasant, Autumnal views of the Welsh landscape once we had cleared the “Heads” perennial roadworks.
“Mr Predictor”, as ever, selected some interesting matches and, for the first time, allowed mobile entries (from the “Tunnimobile”). A short convenience break was taken at Ross-on-Wye, whence we headed unhindered to Merthyr Tydfil. Due to lack of entrants I suppose, the “Rod Quiz” was postponed until Biggleswade, when – it is hoped – there will be a prize up for grabs (although I would not hold my breath !).
“The hills were alive with the sound of music”
Arrival at the old ground of trepidation was bang on schedule at 1.30pm
Timed to perfection and oiled to precision
To travel with Town is a wise decision
Once we off-loaded players and kit, the remaining passengers stayed seated and were treated to a demonstration of Paul’s manoeuvring skills in the tightly-confined “spaces” of the hilly stadium entrance at Penydarren Park (the Loadlok Community Stadium), which is well known to those of us who have travelled there regularly over the last four seasons.
Those aforementioned travellers were treated to a bright, daylight view of the pitch, bathed in sunlight ! This view was then quickly replaced by a view inside the bar ! The usual get-together of coach and car people chatted away whilst watching any one of six TV screens hanging above the two rows of tables and chairs. It has to be said that the locals there are very friendly (they’ve seen enough of us for sure) and I actually spoke to one “Martyr” who had visited Stratford the day before, having stayed at the White Swan Hotel. He was very complimentary of our town.
My travelling companion, Andy, and I walked round to the far side stand, where we had to seek eye-shade from the blazing – if not baking – sun glaring down from over the hills nearby. Apart from the excellent view of the pitch, it was my intention to be near the refreshment booth at the one end. I will say here that, for a stadium of this size, it was inadequate due to the slow service and usually larger crowd. I hesitate to think what is like when they have a big crowd because there was only a very poor attendance of just over 200 there !
The 3G pitch produced an interesting game with a couple of unfortunate incidents/decisions ; a bad ricochet (from an offside position) led to the home equaliser and a not-given penalty late on for the lads, who had battled so well. Everyone concerned said how well the lads had done. In the words of the old “Fiddlers’ Dram” song
“Didn’t we have a lovely time, the day we went to Merthyr ?”
OK ! I know. It was Bangor, but it was still Wales ! You get the drift though.
Having “chewed the fat” over the match in the bar, and taken in the news of two of the squad (not on the coach) moving on to pastures new probably, we allowed players and management their customary post-match feed, before setting off at 5.50pm. At 5.55pm we stopped at a local “NISA” store to take on board some liquid provisions for our squad of heroes. These and the “Sim Music” generated a merry return journey (which I again snoozed through for part of it). We arrived back at DCs at 8.20pm.
When the results of the “Predictor” had been in, it transpired that we had a winner from afar and beyond us. A very popular winner it was, for it was Glyn Hughes with 8 who, incidentally, outscored “his lad” by 6 !!
I thanked Paul, who always gives us a smooth ride, and informed him (jokingly) that his services were not required for the next two away trips but that he should return in just over two weeks to transport us to Biggleswade, sadly in full night mode. He, of course, already knew this (he follows us closely) but seemed genuinely disappointed that it would be that long till he would again have the pleasure of the “geriatrics from the front section and whipper-snappers from the back end” of Stratford Town FC.
“When will I see you again ?”
UP THE TOWN !