A well-oiled machine like TNS doesn’t just happen. Like a swan moves gracefully above the surface of the water, just beneath it are a couple of feet paddling away energetically. In the same way, although the organisational side of Park Hall ticks away smoothly to the onlooker, there’s a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes.
I was at a Champions League meeting last week, chaired by Ian Williams. From cones and car parking barriers through to photo-shoots and UEFA delegates, they were all covered. For those who attend Park Hall very shortly it will be a case of turning up, watching the game and then going home afterwards.
Away from the public eye though there will be a small army of people, led and directed by Ian, who have all worked hard ensuring that everything has gone well. Not just the Champions League either but right through the year whether directly football or otherwise, the Park Hall swan is busy paddling away.
Talking of Europe’s – indeed the world’s – premier club competition, it won’t be long now until the draw. Like all of us associated with the club, whether the Chairman right through to the casual overseas fan who has never been to Park Hall, we all await the event with anticipation. I know I certainly do, I’m really looking forward to seeing who we get. June 20 has been in my diary for a long time.
In the meantime of course, there’s European football of a different kind going on. Euro 2016. Straddling the border, TNS occupies a unique position in that it is a coming together of two nations – England and Wales. Not only geographically though, even the club’s family tree features Llansantffraid and Oswestry. Plus, the people involved at Park Hall reflects a mix of both countries.
The uniqueness of the The New Saints is reflected in my own background. I’m English born and bred but I have Welsh roots and I’m equally proud of both. Although there is a rivalry between the two nations – and certainly as far as the football fan is concerned – I don’t feel that way. On Saturday just gone, I was Welsh at 5.00 pm and then a few hours later I was English.
However, what happens when the two meet? Well, that scenario is about to unfold this coming Thursday! Without doubt the English part of me is more dominant than the Welsh in that, as just mentioned, I was born and have always lived there. The Welsh blood that flows through my veins is very much diluted. We are talking dim and distant.
However, I love Wales and have some fantastic memories of the nation. From going to Rhyl every year as a kid on the family holiday right through to the present and my involvement in Welsh football, it’s all positive. So, on Thursday will it be a case of Come on England? Or Cymru am byth? Or will I have splinters in my bottom from sitting on the fence?
If you’re within a reasonable distance of Oswestry though the place to be is definitely Park Hall. The game is being shown on the large screen at the Venue plus the likes of ITV Central News, BBC Five Live and SKY Sports are going to be in attendance. Fancy an appearance on TV yourself? Well, the latter are looking for a couple who have divided loyalties.
So if you hail from Shrewsbury and your other half is from Swansea then get in touch with Charlotte Ruscoe (Charlotte.Ruscoe@tnsfc.co.uk). Finally, do you like the new TNS website? If you haven’t checked it out yet then make sure you take a look. You can also listen to the latest podcast on there. It’s a Mike Harris special. The thoughts of Chairman Mike.
See you next Monday. Feel free to contact me at Stewart.Bloor@tnsfc.co.uk