Saturday 9 September 2017

274 liberty stadium, swansea

Date of First Visit: 13th FEBRUARY 2010


Attendance: 15,188 (1,500 Toon fans)


(somewhere on the 'M4' sooth Wales)
"divvint worry lads!---aa'll get yiz ti Swanszee for the kick off!----ne problem!"


Aa had a gut feelin’ when ‘Sarnie Steve’ pulled up at mee front door at fower bells in the afternoon in a RED! Seat Ibiza car that sommik would gan wrang on this near 800 mile roond trip to sooth Wales. (ie: red is NOT mee fave colour!)

Wor forst port o caall was Tewkesbury in deepest Gloustershire where we’d booked a hotel for the Friday neet to split the jorney up, before heedin’ for Swansea the next day for the ridiculously timed 12:45 bells kick off at the bequest of Sky telly.

On arrival at the hotel just off the M5 motorway some five hours later at ‘8:30 bells’ we dumped wor bags and coats in the room and asked the lassie on reception where aall the ale hooses were and she pointed us in (wot we thought!) was the reet direction.

Before heedin’ for the bright lights of Tewksbury we made for the restaurant next door for a mixed grill ‘nose bag’ as we were clammin’

After leavin’ the restaurant we waalked around aimlessly ‘like lost sheep’ in the bitin’ wind in just wor tee shirts for aboot twenty minutes through Tewkesbury Industrial Estate in the direction the lassie had pointed, still digestin’ the gammon steak, when we realised that we must be heedin’ in the wrang direction as aall we could see were loads of brand new factory units? (but ne boozers!)
(women have got ne sense of direction---have they?)

So we did a swift u torn back towards the hotel where we eventually spotted a signpost for the toon centre. (at last!)

After wot seemed like three days (er! Anotha twenty mins actually!) we saw wot looked like an illuminated pub sign in the distance and quickened wor pace!----‘GULF PETROL’ the sign screamed as we got closer and we reduced to ‘snail pace’ strides in dispair! (“a gallon of unleaded pleeze, barman, on the rocks!”)

However!---wor despair soon torned to ‘unbridled joy’ as just a hundred yards alang the road from the petrol station we spotted anotha sign behind some trees which read -------‘THE CANTERBURY’------at last!---somewhere to quensh wor thirsts and waam up as we were f*****’ freezin’ by this time!(wish a’d brung mee ‘nanny goat’!)

It was half ten by this time and the barmaid informed us that last orders were at half eleven, so we had ‘ne choice’ but to make ‘pigs of worsels’ and shovel as many ‘liquid refreshments’ as we could doon wor ‘john o groats’ in just one hour!----several pints later we staggered back to the hotel for some much needed ‘shut-eye’ and we crashed oot big style!------------“ZZZZZzzzzz!!!”


There was ne brekky included in the £29 room price but as usual ‘Sarnie Steve’ had come prepared and like a magician pullin’ a bunny rabbit from a top hat, he pulled a plastic bowl and a spoon from his owerneet bag, filled it with a mini packet of Kelloggs cornflakes!, added some milk and sugar and chomped away merrily at the cereal as he sat on the corner of his bed!
(“the best to yoo each mornin’!”)

(Aall aa had for my brekky. by the way!, was a corled up at the edges, stale cheese ‘n’ tomato sarnie, left from the previous day!) (times are hard, yi naa!)

We set off from the hotel for the 2 hour drive to Swansea at 8:30 bells and aall was gannin well---- until!------aboot 3 miles from Cardiff West services on the M4 a loud bleepin’ noise could be hord. And at forst aa thought it was Sarnie Steve’s mobile phone. However!---Steve informed me that it was in fact comin’ from one of the dials on his dashboard which was flashin’ off and on!---not a good sign.

At forst he thought that it was the petrol gauge but on closer inspection it was the temperature gauge which was on red alert!

“Normally if the gauge is on red, smoke would be comin’ oot the bonnet, so aa’ll try and get to the services and see wot the problem is”, he said.

That was temptin’ fate!---and sure enough 10 seconds later smoke started porin’ from my side of the bonnet!

“Steve!”, aa shouted, “STOP!—STOP!”, and he pulled ower onto the hard shoulder brakin’ sharpish.

When he opened the bonnet huge plumes of smoke engulfed us and aa just knew that we were in trouble,----‘BIG TROUBLE!!!’

After lettin’ the engine cool doon a bit, Steve unscrewed the radiator cap to reveel that there was nee waata in it! Luckily he had some waata in a plastic container in the boot and filled it back up.

Then!---travillin’ at very low speed on the hard shoulder we made for the services----the temp gauge was OK at forst--- but!--- aall of a sudden it went ‘off the scale’! We managed to limp into the services and park up near the petrol pumps as smoke again engulfed us!

(Phew!---wi’d just made it!)

Steve again started to unscrew the radiator cap but it was still boilin’ hot and just before a’d finished sayin’: “Steve! divvint tek the cap off yet!” it suddenly blew off and we got covered in aall kinds of shit as the dorty waata went everywhere includin’ mee face and hair!

We spent the next 5 minutes searchin’ fruitlesleee for the ‘said cap’ before a litter picker spotted it underneath the front wheel! (“cheers mate!”)

An AA patrol gadgy just happened to be parked nearby and he telt us that in his opinion the car had probably blown the heed gasket and that it was ‘cattle trucked’! (ie: we wernt gannin anywhere!)

How were we gannih get to Swansea some 50 miles distant was the big question now, with anly 3 hours to kick off??? Sarnie Steve suggested that we get a taxi to Cardiff train station and then catch a train---but!---that was a ‘non-starter’ as the roondaboot beside the motorway was chocker with traffic heedin’ for the centre of Cardiff for a international rugby match between Wales and Scotland in front of an anticipated 70,000 plus crowd!

The otha alternative was to get a taxi aall the way which would cost us ‘an arm an’ two leg’!

Then Steve had ‘a brain wave’---“The rest of the lads flew to Bristol last neet and hired a car tih tek them to Swansea. Hopefully Russ (the driver) will be able to come and pick us up if he hasn’t went ‘on the hoy’!”

One phone call later and Russ was on his way to save us! (praizzze the lord!!!)

The plan was to leave the car at the sorvices and get the ‘AA’ Relay’ to toe us back to the Toon, provided we could get a lift back from Swansea after the match (fingers and toes crossed!)

From wot seemed like 20 hours (as time was tickin’ by very quickly) and like a scene from ‘International Rescue’, Russ suddenly appeared in a bright silver hatchback to, er!, ‘rescue us’ (Thunderbird One, perhaps?) and before we knew it, we were on wor way to Swansea with less than 2 hours to kick off

By amazin’ coincidence ,with his thick black hair and dark eyebrows, Russ actually looks remarkableee like ‘Scott’off the Thunderbirds cult TV series (“er!”---or was it ‘Virgil’???) and he sped us on wor way doon the ‘M4’ at break-neck speed!

He wasn’t in a happy mood as he thought he might have been ‘done’ by a mobile speed camera on his way to pick us up, but ‘duty caalled’---he had to get us there for the kick off!

Less than an hour later we spotted Swansea’s gleamin’ white new stadium in the distant valley with just 55 minutes to spare before kick off. (wi’d made it!---special thanx to International ‘Russ’cue!)

It was then a mad dash to the nearest waaterin’ hole we could find for a much needed couple of ‘liquid lubrications’, before heedin’ for the groond.

Once inside the concourse we then had to find some ‘kind soul’ to give us a lift back to the services and amazingly the forst fan we asked caalled ‘Trev’ was actually gannin’ there after the match to pick somebody up who’d been to the rugby match in Cardiff. He was on his own so there were spare seats in his ‘jam jar’-------problem solved!

The Liberty Stadium is one of them---‘lets build a one the same as they’ve got at Boro/Derby/Stoke/Leicester etc etc.’ It is certainleee better than lopsided and disjointed ‘Vetch Field’ which was the Swans aad groond on the other side of town. ‘The Ospreys rugby union team aalso plays at the new venue, which (of course) doesn’t help the pitch, but surprisingly it wasn’t in too bad a state for this time of the year.

The Toons followin’ was the lowest of the season with just 1,500 diehards mekin’ the ridiculous kick off time and there were plenty of empty seats in aall parts of the groond as the game kicked off (includin’ 1,000 in wor end!)

It didn’t help that there were ne tickets on sale on the day to any of wor fans who were exiled in this part of Wales and aalso the fact that the big rugby match in Cardiff was aalso televised at the same time didn’t help with the attendance from the home fans eetha!

This match was a special occasion for me as this was the forst new groond a’d visited of the new decade and it meant that a’d now followed the Toon away from home for SIX!? decades! (1960’s—70’s—80’s—90’s---2000’s and now the 10’s (am aa reeely that old????)---------------(The silence is deafenin’!---quick!---pass mee ‘ear trumpet’!!!!)

Lately we hadn’t played well away from home (ie: a 3-0 defeat at Derby orlier on in the week!!) and the same scenario started to unfold as the game progressed with the Welshmen havin’ much more of the baall and chances. Somehow we managed to get to half time still on level torms, but wor luck was aboot to change as the second half restarted when Swansea’s David Cotterill shot past Harper 10 minutes into the second period.

This produced wild celebration from the home fans includin’ the ridiculouslee lookin’ mascot ‘Cedric the Swan’ (or whatever he’s caalled?) dressed up in a swansuit, would yih believe!

(as mascots gan, this one’s really doon the swanny!) (sic!) and he was flappin’ his wings aboot and jumpin’ up and doon like a flyin’ swan from the Swan Lake Ballet! (“Er!”---or shud that be ‘dyin’ swan???) (“a’m not ‘into’ ballet!---a’m not a ‘puff’ yi naa!”)

Anyway!---it was backs to the waall stuff after this as ‘The Swannys’ missed several chances to double their lead with Stevie Harper in ootstandin’ form in the Toon goal. Near the end of the match Andy Carroll got away with what looked like an elbow in a Swansea defenders face and and he was lucky not to get his ‘marchin’ orders’ as the ref missed the incident.

This torned oot to be a key moment as with just 3 minutes remainin’ Leon Best ran doon the reet hand side of the pitch to send in an inch perfect cross onto Carroll’s bonce and he heeded it into the net givin’ the home keeper ne chance. It was wor torn to de the ‘flyin’ swan’ routine as we celebrated in the half empty seats! (or shud that be ‘the flyin’ magpie’ routine?)

That’s the way it ended and we were fortunate indeed to ‘steal a point’. Some of wor fans however, never got to celebrate the equaliser and missed Andy’s goal as they had to leave orly to catch the last train back to England (Skys got a lot to answer for!)

The result left us on course and ever closer to a swift retorn to the top flight as we regained top spot from West Brom in wot was wor 14th ! live televised game of the season!.

With the ‘celebrations’ ower, it was now time to face the dreaded jorney yem and ‘Trev’s’ forst mistake was to park his car in a car park ower the road from the groond as it took ower half an hour to get oot ! (great start!)

We wern’t complainin’ though as we were more than grateful for the lift and he soon had us back at Cardiff sorvices where we phoned the ‘AA’ at ‘fower bells’

“It will be at least an hour and a half!”, the lassie said on the other end of the ‘telling bone’ and so we had ne choice but to watch the traffic gan by once again as we listened to a match on the car radio

We’d now spent more time in Cardiff services than we had in Swansea and we were a bit pist off by this time!
Eventually the ‘AA’ van torned up and he telt Steve to start it up
When Steve torned the ignition on there were strange noises as the engine coughed and spluttered into life “I don’t like the sound of that!” the ‘AA’ gadgie said in a broad Welsh accent and he added that it would indeed have to be towed aall the way back to The Toon.

To cut a (very!) lang story short we eventually left wor ‘second home’ at six thorty bells’ with the wreck (er!—sorry!) ‘Steve’s pride and joy?’ on the back of a tow truck for the forst leg of wor retorn jorney to Ross on Wye which is on the Welsh border. From there another ‘AA’ truck would be waitin’ (hopefully!)

It was!—but the driver had to tek an hours break and as luck would have it (luck!???) we used wor special ‘nostril radar’ and ‘sniffed oot’ ‘The Travellers Rest’ waaterin’ hole’ some qwaata of a mile in the distance and asked him to pick us up from there.

After mekin’ pigs of worsels once again it was back on the road (9:15 bells) for the next leg of the jorney to Lymm Truck Stop on the M6 near Manchester where we were to catch wor thord and last breakdoon truck to the Toon.


It was just after midneet when we got to Lymm and the ‘jam jar’ was transfered to truck number three for the final leg. After another break at Hartshead Moor sorvices on the M62 (closin’ time by now---so ne drink here!) we set off again at ‘2 bells’ and as Steve took a huge bite from his last sarnie (he’s not caalled Sarnie Steve for nothin’!) he said in a half cheerful voice: “Look on the bright side Fink----at least we haven’t had to pay for any petrol on the way back!”

(Must de this more often aa thought------NOT!)

We finally made it back to Tyneside in the late orly hours (if yi see wot aa meeen?) shattered –knackered and ready for a lang lang kip!

It was 5 past 4 bells as aa put mee key in the front door, some thirteen and a half hours since the final whistle!---yet another ‘disaster day’ to add to the neva endin’ list!----goodnight from him---and goodnight from me! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!

©Fink™ (the mad-sad gr☺undh☺pper!)

Footnote: it wasn’t the heed gasket that was knackered---it was the waata pump, which cost ‘Sarnie Steve’ a couple of hundred quid to get fixed

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