A couple of weekends back, TNS travelled to Scotland in the Irn-Bru Cup (November 13). Livingston, I presume? Yes, indeed. I’ve been wanting to get that in ever since the draw was made.
For those who are not aware, the competition has previously been known as the Scottish Challenge Cup. With new sponsors from this season, it has also undergone a transformation.
Two clubs each from Northern Ireland and Wales were invited to participate, hence TNS’ involvement. Following on from the previous round’s 3-1 victory at Forfar Athletic, this time the club went one better.
Like Forfar, Livingston are top of their league except they are a division higher. So, to go and win 3-0 was an incredible result. When you take into account it was on a grass surface that was rained on from start to finish, you begin to get an idea of just how emphatic a victory it was.
Apart from the Champions League excursions in June and July, all the club’s competitive fixtures are played in the Welsh footballing system. Therefore, when the Irn-Bru Cup format was announced, I’m sure that many were interested to see how the club would perform. I was.
Well, the words ‘flying colours’ come to mind. As well as a great job done on the pitch, it was also quality off it as well, as the twelfth man performance was equally impressive. Gathered around a huge Welsh flag, the fans had plenty to get excited about, and accompanied by the travelling drum, that’s exactly what they did.
Back to domestic football and last Friday’s victory at Carmarthen was the 15th consecutive win this season. It equals Bangor City’s record for one campaign, although when you take into account the final-day 5-1 at Llandudno last time round, it’s currently 16 straight league wins.
There’s still a long way to go though to beat the European record. Back in the early seventies, straddling two seasons, Benfica notched up 29 consecutive wins. Even the British benchmark is still some distance on the horizon.
Set by another team that plays in green and white hoops, Celtic registered a quarter-of-a-century of straight wins back in 2003/2004. However, all you can do, if you pardon the well-worn footballing clichè, is to take it a game at a time. That next game, of course, is this Friday (November 25) at home to Airbus UK Broughton.
Talking of records, our goalkeeper and captain, Paul Harrison, made his 301st appearance at Carmarthen last Friday (November 18). The previous holder of the prestigious statistic was Scott Ruscoe. Following on from Phil Bakers’ European appearances earlier this season, that’s the second Ruscoe record that has been eclipsed.
However, regardless of a number on a list, the fact remains that Scott – along with H and Pip – is, and always will be, a footballing legend. Not only here at TNS but also in the wider Welsh game as well. The word ‘legend’ is over-used these days, but for these three it is an appropriate title indeed.
Plus Scottie still has 392 overall WPL appearances to his name, courtesy of playing elsewhere in the league over the years. So that’s one TNS-related record that will stand for a while. See you next Monday. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org