I would say, without doubt, that the vast majority of people involved with any football club want a home tie when a cup draw is made. Less organising, lower costs and no extra travel are all relevant factors that ensure you want your number coming out first.
However, purely on a personal level, I’m on the other side of the fence – and especially so when the Round 4 Irn-Bru Cup draw was made. I had no preferences, just as long as it was on the road. The ground-hopper in me was, of course, satisfied when Forfar Athletic preceded The New Saints and the stage was set for another new ground on my list.
Prior to the game even taking place, I got talking to Ash, Lesa and Louise on Facebook. Via a Messenger group that Ash set up, we had spent that much time chatting, by the time we met it was like we were all old friends. Social media, when used correctly, is a fantastic tool.
In fact, we were all so comfortable with each other, that as I filmed the TNS players getting off the coach, Ash and Lesa video-bombed proceedings. Five minutes later we were having a selfie in the stand. I love the friendships and relationships that I’ve made via TNS, and these are up there with the best.
Talking of journeys, I’m normally with the players but this time round along with media officer, Gil Woolley, I travelled on the supporters’ bus. This was so we could capture the journey, and if you followed the videos on the TNS Facebook page then you’ll be aware of the content.
Once in the ground, what stood out for me was the Welsh flag on an advertising board on the far side. Sponsored by Simon and Andrea Harvey from South Wales, we randomly asked on TNS Radio that, if Simon was listening, what was the story behind it.
Well, amazingly he was and even more incredible is the tale that unfolded. In fact, it all began three years ago when I played a game of football on a Saturday afternoon in South Wales. Simon and Andrea are going to visit Park Hall shortly, so, as they say, watch this space. All will be revealed then.
As well as the Facebook Live clips, we also recorded podcast interviews with fans and those can be accessed via the current TNS Radio Football Show, episode 58, which can be accessed via the website. The support was tremendous and watching – and hearing them – as they gathered around the huge Welsh flag in the stand made me immensely proud.
Another great moment was when we surprised Callum, the young mascot. His dad contacted us at TNS prior to the game saying that TNS is Callum’s Welsh team and how thrilled he was when the draw was made. Therefore would it be possible to take him a pennant or something similar.
Well, we went one better than that, and a shirt made its way to Station Park that was signed by all the players on the day, with Callum present. Steve Saunders, our Scotland international, was his favourite player and so we got a special photograph, courtesy of Brian Jones, of the two of them together.
Mom, Gillian, was also snapping away and they asked if I would also pose with Callum. I was honoured to do so, of course, but above all it was fantastic to see his face as we introduced him to the players as they signed his shirt. As I called them across, as they left the pitch individually following their pre-game warm-up, every one was brilliant with Callum.
Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Forfar? Yes, of course, the 3-1 scoreline was great. However, as always, it was just the icing on the cake. There was a lot more to the weekend than simply a result on a sheet of paper.
If you’re of a certain age, you’ll also know where the inspiration for this week’s heading come from. If not do an internet search for ‘Fiddler’s Dram’.
Finally, well done to Chrissy Breeze and Martin Davies who went for the correct score in Scotland and again Chrissy, joined by William Boulby, who went TNS 5 Llandudno 0 and so consequently #BeatTheBelle on TNS Radio.
Have a great week and I’ll see you next Monday. Feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org