While not quite at the level of Sgt. Pepper in terms of years, nevertheless the remembrance of a particular date has as much relevance to me as it did to the band that was taught to play.
August 29 2014 was the day that I arrived at Park Hall, making my debut on the brand-new TNS Radio show. Originally getting into Welsh football via Sgorio a season or so earlier, as a football fan I didn’t want to just watch games on TV.
Therefore, with The New Saints being the closest team to where I live, that was where I set off for a midweek game. I can’t even remember who it was against now, but when I got back home and my wife asked me how I got on, my reply was ‘I loved it.’
I had a Wolverhampton Wanderers season ticket at the time and the experience was the opposite of what I was used to in the English game. One turnstile for all fans, no segregation, fans of both sides wearing colours and mingling, no police and no confrontation from opposition fans when one side scored.
I soon found myself following from afar and incorporating games into my schedule when time -and Wolves games – allowed. I’ve always been someone who follows the fortunes of football in general rather than being a die-hard supporter of just one team. For example, I must be one of a very small group that follows the fortunes of both Leeds and Wolves.
Therefore my particular approach meant that it was easy to add TNS to my list. The club became my Welsh team. Not just that but I had also developed a genuine love for the game in Wales. Although I’m English – and very proud of that by the way – I also have Welsh blood flowing through my veins on both the maternal and paternal sides.
The Cymraeg connections on my dad’s side go back way in time but on my mom’s it’s as recent as my grandmother. I’m very proud of my Welsh heritage and like the earlier football example, I am one of those people who loves both England and Wales.
So, how did I end up on TNS Radio? Although I had been following TNS for a time, I hadn’t connected with anyone other than Sez Roberts, a steward at the club, as we followed each other on Twitter. I had noticed that TNS was asking for a fan to have a go on the soon-to-be-launched radio show and although I thought it was a great opportunity for someone, I never saw it as something for me.
In fact it was Sez who suggested I should respond and it was only her persistence that eventually saw me getting a DM on Twitter that read, ‘Hello, I understand you want to feature on TNS Radio on Friday?’ To which I replied, ‘Yes, I’m definitely interested.’ Thus I did indeed turn up on the Friday.
In my mind I had a vision of an accomplished commentator with all the gear who would ask me every ten minutes what I thought of the game. Well, there was certainly the latter but not the former. I ended up ‘having a go’. I was pleasantly surprised when I was asked immediately afterwards if I could come back for the next home game and the one after that, in fact could I keep coming back.
It was just a few games in when I was driving home along the A5 that I thought to myself, “This is going somewhere.” Well, what an incredible journey it has been as I am now into my fourth year – and season – at the club. It’s a three-hour round-trip every time I visit Park Hall but it’s still a pleasure and never a burden. Thank you, TNS.
Stewart Bloor – Media & Communications Officer at The New Saints FC
Rev’s Ramblings is a weekly blog insight following my adventures with the champions of Wales.