Following the home tie against Apoel, the Champions of Cyprus, the wanderlust again kicked in. Due to a very early flight to the Mediterranean island, the team travelled on the Saturday afternoon and stayed in the Novotel at Birmingham International.
If I say it is literally a stone’s throw away from the airport I’m not exaggerating, as it is situated just yards away from the departures entrance. Even with no distance involved though, it still meant a 3.30 a.m. rise.
As a very keen angler, however, it was all in a day’s work. Over the years I’ve fished thousands of nights, arrived home in the early hours and beat the lark numerous times in order to get out bank-side. Following some waiting, flying and driving, approximately twelve hours later we arrived at the Hilton, Nicosia. I could get used to this. My vacations involve a week in a caravan in Wales with my wife.
In fact, on my own personal Facebook account I did indeed milk it. From photographs in the pool through to just posing in the impressive lounge, I posted them all. They were all accompanied with a ‘I don’t know if I told you, but I’m in the Hilton’ type of comment. Well, it’s all good fun of course, but yes it was indeed a very nice place to stay.
My roommate in Cyprus, as indeed for the overnighter in Birmingham, was Sam Thomas. If you listen to TNS Radio then you’ll be familiar with the name, and indeed the voice, as it’s Sam who is on air with me during the broadcasts. He’s also the technical magician as well, and gets us going when it seems like we have a behind-the-scenes mountain to climb.
I have so much confidence in his ability, that I know we will always be on air. He just knows what to do to make it happen. Occasionally we are really up against it from a connection point of view. In the early days of TNS Radio we struggled with getting online sometimes, but nowadays that is a rare occurrence, and any time-out is usually for a very short time only.
The broadcast, from the national stadium, went well. Even though we had competition from the likes of S4C, who showed the game on TV, through to BBC Radio, we had lots of interaction with listeners via Twitter. I want to give a massive personal thank you to everyone who does tune in, you are very much appreciated. And I really mean that.
The game itself was always going to be an uphill struggle, and so it turned out to be. However, as we said on air, like a high quality sponge, the team absorbed the pressure and we went into the break 0-0. It took a deflection on 54 minutes for Apoel to shatter the deadlock. From then on they added two more, but while I was disappointed in defeat, I also felt immensely proud of the never-say-die team attitude.
Connecting initially via social media (it’s a good medium when used in a positive way), and then in person prior to the game, I met with 2016 Face Of The Globe Wales winner, Natalia Mavromoustaki, while I was in Cyprus. It was great to get a photo outside the ground, with Nat wearing her sash, and then to interview her for a TNS Radio Football Show podcast. She’s a great girl and does a lot of good-works.
As someone who runs a small charity myself, that operates mostly in Africa, I always appreciate it when I see folks who sacrifice time to get involved in the lives of others. It’s even better when it’s young people that are getting their sleeves rolled up. Sometimes the younger generation are seen in a very negative light, but as indeed this example shows, there is a lot of positivity if you look closely enough.
Anyway, back to the football, and a warm welcome to our latest fan. We became friends on Facebook while I was in Cyprus, and it was great to see Natalia posting TNS-related stuff on her timeline. The plan is that one day she will be able to make a game in the Dafabet Welsh Premier League.
So far so good, great defending, cracking commentary from the #tnsradio boys 🙂
— Glyn Berrington (@GPB56) July 19, 2016
Talking of the WPL, the opening fixture draws closer, as we take on Aberystwyth Town at home on August 14. In the meantime though, there will be friendlies. Whether at Park Hall, or on the road, we’d love to see you at a game. If you can’t be there in person, well, the next best thing is to listen to TNS Radio. Either way, hope to connect with you soon.
— Maddie Ottaway (@MaddieOttaway) July 19, 2016
Finally, and back to the Apoel game, well done to Brandon Arthur and Glyn Berrington, who predicted a 3-0 win and therefore #BeatTheBelle. Poor Cortez, he hit the nail on the head in the opening game, but since then it’s been business as usual. What about tomorrow’s (depending on when you read this, of course) friendly v FC Oswestry Town?
— What Chris Tweets (@crusader120) July 19, 2016
Mr. Belle goes for 7-1 to TNS, but what about you? Let me have your prediction, and if you get it right, you’ll receive a shout-out in next week’s column. Send your guess, or feel free to contact me anyway, to: firstname.lastname@example.org