Mickey Blue Eyes
I was delighted when Swansea City and Cardiff City both made it into the Premier League because Wales has made huge contributions to British sport, culture and politics, though you would scarcely think so during tribal wars between North and South Cymru. And both clubs have seen good and bad sides of football fortune in recent years. I had only slight reservations about Cardiff, and that came about because humorous Welsh team mates in our Kuwait darts club used to say of wonderfully-named Splott (Y Sblot in Welsh) in Cardiff, "They only let them out once a week." Well, worse than Lahndan's East End, or Manchester's Moss Side, Leeds' Chapeltown or Birmingham's Shard End? Moreover, Wales has also been on the end of media and economic attacks every bit as bad as that visited on everyone else outside the M25 ghetto - especially mining communities - who fought against the corrupt mob who run UK inc. Thus, football as working class escapism.
Both clubs now play in splendid if limited new stadia paid for, as usual, by the fans after enduring a nightmare footy existence for years up and down the Football League. Many inspired choruses of Land of My Fathers and Sosban Fach paid off, and supporters coughed up. Nobody sings in chorus like the Welsh at their best - especially not that tight band of away idiots of at every Premier League match who confuse poison bile (aka "atmosphere") for humour, a trait I am kind of proud our supporters mostly avoid in favour of, well, support, actually. If only the guilty realised just how moronic they look and sound.
But sadly, Cardiff quickly sank back into the Championship thanks to a new oligarch owner, Vincent Tan, who appears to know little of British football club mores (it seems he has now also bought into a US "franchise"). And that was after they received for four years the itinerant attention of one Peter Ridsdale, now at Preston North End, former "entrepreneur" overseer of Leeds United and Barnsley and "helper" of Plymouth Argyle, subsequently in 2012 banned from company directorships until 2020. At the opposite end of the scale Swansea survived and "prospered" - at least so far - thanks to relatively enlightened local ownership (which, alas, last year paid itself a dividend of £2millions).
Meanwhile, on Thursday EFC published a balance sheet that shows a profit of £28.2 millions plus a debt reduction of about 38%, a capitalist hawk among the sparrows. In my book anything is welcome that helps Robert Elstone pay the window cleaner. It was largely due to TV revenues but anyone who discounts the combined efforts of Roberto Martinez and the players and the off-pitch efforts of Elstone and his team is an ignorant fool. What it also demonstrated yet again was the Las Vegas nature of footy capitalism, or indeed the entire system that pays just enough to keep you one salary payment from destitution. Of course, everything will revert when the initial effect of the "new" money wears off. Just as, if you think you have seen the worst of "austerity"......you ain't seen nothin' yet.
By now Swansea's excellent young manager Garry (sic) Monk was expected to burn up in the hothouse Premier League. Instead, his teams play a brand of football that does them great credit: they massacred us 3-0 when we met them in the League Cup a few weeks ago, and we were lucky to keep it at three. They play a similar passing game to ours, but much more incisively and much faster. Before our Saturday match we were tenth in the standings and they were sixth. The game was bound to be a big test of our mini revival despite their tiring midweek clash with our lovable pink neighbours. One to relish, one for goals, then.
It was about as bad as a 0-0 game can be: horrible, niggly, little creativity, virtually no goalmouth action, Our Boys quite incapable of anything despite playing ten men, all of it made even more ugly by the worst moronic refereeing since the likes of Elleray, Riley, D'Urso and Poll. For long stretches Swansea were clearly the better side. Much of the game was played out in a kind of morgue-like silence, and who could blame the fans? It was simply awful and there is little point dwelling on any of it.
Suffice it to say this bodes badly because we have so many players nearing or actually in veteran stage. We can now see our pre-season expectations, mine included, were ludicrously wide of the mark. It will take a miraculous turnaround to rescue the remaining three quarters of the season; the squad is good enough individually but unfortunately the team shape and playing format is almost completely imbalanced. Still, we must live in hope, laugh or cry, the choice is yours.
Frankly, this supporter felt like he had been hit on the head with a saucepan. Or is that sosban?