At one point the wind and rain blew a crisp packet into my face and I thought it was funny and I turned around to Tonka to tell him and it blew back again. Slap. Right in the mush. Now I had rain in my eye and my open mouth had rain in it with a slight cheesy oniony flavour maybe. So I just shut up and narrowed me eyes and navigated myself back the the Landrover by touch. They were Cheese and Onion crisps. The packet was following me.
Around the Swansea ground there were humps of hills that looked like some great prehistoric gargantuan animal had just reached Swansea and decided to lie down and die. Then some humourless council planning staff decided to open a catalogue of ‘Cack Dystopian Street Planning’ and went pointing with a snotty finger ‘I’ll have that, and that, and that, one of them, two of those and yes. We want a fucking ruck of those’. I’d like to think, as we walked into the ground, that maybe one day we can visit somewhere that takes your breath away with stunning footballing vistas, beautiful cities. But now these visits are becoming blurred and melting into one great war, one great series of battles, one endless great grey landscape of trying to find somewhere to park and I think, although our bodies are not tired, our minds are becoming infected by them.
Leo Bonatini is definitely affected. He has a heart this lad, he runs and he jinks and he’s deep again. Too deep to collect a ball, poke it into the net. Four times the ball went across the face of goal waiting for the foot of a poacher. Four times Leo was a few yards away. The second incarnation of Nunos mind and idea was a whole different beast to Barnsley. It was Kerplunkian dynamics. Take out the colossus that is Boly and Coady and the marbles rattled deeper down the pitch. Batth and Hause did a job of sorts but the ghosts of Lambert and Jackett were wailing down the touchline clanking their chains of despondent negative potentials. The team played deeper with them and inertia set in fast. Swansea showed at least why they are in the Premier league. Moving was lovely at times, the ball zipping over a pitch that was uneven and Welsh. Like they had turfed over a hastily raked flat slag heap. But Swansea don’t believe anything at all. They are resigned.
Morgan Gibbs-White is a thing for me. His slight figure twisting and turning in midfield. So young and yet so full of promise. I watched him the most and even grew to love him a little. He needs anger and intent too. He needs to channel that look Nuno gives stupid interviewers and mold that into his intent in that midfield. Less tactical nous and more emotive expression when he has the ball. He needs to tell those expensive players around him where they should be to collect a pass or where he will be to receive theirs
We were deep and we were sometimes under the cosh. But when we did get hold of the ball, we flowed too and we had chance after chance. You see this was the League one team with a few additions. The base of the whole idea was our second incarnation of the partnership between Batth and Hause. Now I was ready to start slagging the pair off last night. I know, it’s silly. But the psychogeography of South Wales is a hard fucking porridge to chew, mentally at least. It gets in your mind fast and starts eating away. The rain and the wind, The damp cold. The lack of anything to see except the generic architecture of the ground, the dotted around fast food places full of disinterested staff, stewards with faces like they had been used to beat out a skip fire. Skin like an old football weathering away to dust on a garage roof, a single shoe dangling by a lace from a telephone wire above, and a wind that was relentless.
But we are getting to know each other aren’t we? Us in the stands and them on the pitch. I know it’s a difficult time, it’s fumbly and a bit leggy. Our conversations between the fans and the players are going to be a little mistranslated sometimes and that goes for the fellas on the pitch too. Yes, last night had a few errant passes and confused moments where the language of football was blown away across the pitch in that black miserable wind.
Saiss found it hard to understand the pitch for sure and the interplay between him and the team was like jumping barrels for sure. Add the ‘Bastard in the Black’ to the mix and stuff did get blocky and pixellated with confusion. A game of football did threaten to break out until he disrupted the rhythm with his play acting decisions. When ever a Referee tweaks his body into some vogueish contortion while making a decision, well it makes me want to run on the pitch and kick his head off. Don’t forget mush we paid money to watch football, not some jumped up prick who gets his fun out of taking pictures of his little acorn dong to send to bored housewives on Tinder.
Swansea fandom made strides in my mind today. Who plays crowd noises on their PA? Is this a thing? They are a dour lot in South Wales. Every Steward seems to have a bald or shaved head and a broken nose. One of the women stewards actually scared me, she looked like she huffed deodorant, hair like Lucas electrics, dyed angry brown/red/grey. But look don’t hassle me about it, just observations.
Leo played well. I’m liking him more and more as I watch him. Fair enough the goals have kind of dried up but is that Leo? Has he been told to play deeper? Link the play more for Jota and Cav (when he plays?) Maybe. I don’t know. It certainly worked at times last night but I’m still thinking that they need a little more time together, a few dark periods to gel and become a complete team. The German Psychoanalyst Jung said that to be the complete man you have to embrace the dark side of your personality. Maybe our team needs nights like this. A tempest of football darkness to roll around in. Some chaos maybe? An instigation of intent borne from disaster and murderous footballing intent. There would be no greater place than this to investigate the darkness inside them. The sky was black and the raindrops as flung stars in the light from the floodlights. There is another Swansea rally call on the PA system and I felt like weeping again.
But the rain swirled and rolled over the stand and the storm grew more prevalent as the match progressed. Jota did a ‘Jota’ again and showed us why he is the ‘Jota’. I love him more I watch him. Only a little fella but I’ve talked about that before. But he has a strong mind. Who else could delve into thine bag of tricks and pull that goal out? Sublime and gorgeous for sure. I did erupt. The stewards were watching me closely and I threw a few swear words into the wind to provoke them. Why? I don’t know. I get angry sometimes and those fans in the stand, the moaners and the naysayers, the jolly, the half pissed, the fully pissed were my mates. I don’t like the hands of stewards on them.
Big Alf has the ball and he looks for a pass or a run but there is nobody there. The rain blocks thoughts when thrown stinging into your face and he wipes a hand across his eyes and the chance has gone, blasted into the black hills around this place. The Swansea fans are singing something but I don’t know what it is. A dollop of rain gets me right in the ear and I shiver. What is football but this? Wet feet, rain blowing around the stand, hungry, needing a piss, but you don’t want to miss a chance or one of those pinging cross field balls that slither out of touch. The ball goes into the Swansea stands and they don’t want to give it back. That sums them up for me. Stragglers and defunct of idea. The PCSO in front of me looks like an old Nuno and I want to throw him down the stairs when he points out a fan who has covered his face. The young lad gets escorted out. But lad? If you had kicked up a fuss I would have kicked off too. I’m a blogger but I was a fighter first.
Is this post ‘Pretentious’? I don’t know. Maybe. Or maybe the whole idea of writing about your team is pretentious maybe. I stand, there in opposition stadiums and all I do is support my team. That’s what I do, then I write about them as best I can. I see Wayne has stuck another ‘Southbank Resistance’ sticker on another opposition stand. He watches Wolves where ever and when ever he can and he supports the team. That’s what’s important to me. The drama on the pitch reflected in the dramas we have as fans and supporters. We were quiet yes. Maybe the landscape leaked the joy out of us. Maybe we looked at Swansea and thought ‘is this the quality of what we seek to attain next season?’ and found it lacking a little. The plastic stadiums and the plastic cups of beer, the shit food, the relentless dystopian landscapes we travel to week after week, the deleting of comments on here from other teams fans who don’t like what I’ve written. Well honestly you can gargle one of my balls. What the fuck do I care about your team and your town? Shall I do a podcast where I interview you and we laugh about our teams and it’s all jolly and friendly? Shall I add you on Social Media and wax about the state of football today? No. I hate your towns to be honest and I hate your teams, I hate your strips and I hate your players, I hate your songs and I hate your fans. When I walk out of your stadiums I just want to punch you in the face but it seems that I’m stuck in some weird future where we don’t do that any more. I think it’s a shame. Now you just ‘block them’ Jesus Christ what have we become?
I don’t give a fuck. You’ve all had your days in the sun. I’ve become stoical and malevolent as I watch my team. This is the part of the season now when you have to dig in. When I used to box our trainer made us use the last twenty seconds of a round to fling combo after combo at the opponent in rapid fire lung bursting effort. We must do the same now. This is a critical point. I suspected at the turn of the year that it would be all plain sailing now as we batter teams into submission. But you know. Even though we are flinging these punches willy nilly towards the lumps in front of us there’s still time to get caught by an errant punch or two. Right on the chin, on the nose maybe and your eyes start to water and blood-snot fills your nose. But sometimes you connect and he falls to the canvas and you want to kick him in the face too, but you can’t. Ah who knows. Forest on Saturday. I hope Horace is better because I’m missing his big grumpy face.
2 thoughts on “Storm In An FA Cup”
I have just caught up and must assume I am still in as it were. This is great news as your ramblings are a wonderful addition to this fairytale season. Your observations and reflections remind me very much of john Updike who has/had a surgical way with words. Enough blowing smoke up your arse I am on the crazy train to the end, keep up the good work.
I love having smoke blown up my arse seeing as most the time in real life people shout at me for being a useless twat…you carry on ahk
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