I’m often asked how someone from the Black Country area of England found his way into the Welsh game. Well, several TNS games per season are covered by the Sgorio cameras, and that’s where it all began for me.
I’d had a Wolverhampton Wanderers season ticket for many years (in fact I went to my first game in 1963 when Stan Cullis was still on the throne). One Saturday, Wolves were away and I was channel-hopping, as you do, when I came across S4C.
I could see that a game was due to get underway, so I decided to watch. I can’t remember who it was now, but I liked what I saw. It took me back to what football used to like when I was a kid. I sensed the passion and the freshness. It was like going back to nature.
Now I’m not being critical of the modern game. There have been some great advances but chat to people of a certain age, like I am, and they’ll often talk about the ‘old days’ in terms of fondness and affection.
I started watching Sgorio whenever Wolves weren’t in action and I found myself getting very much into the Welsh game. Let me say at this point as well that I have Welsh heritage. Although in the distance past, it is nevertheless something that I am very, very proud of.
Of course though, being a football fan, I didn’t just want to watch games on a screen, I wanted to go to live matches. With TNS being the closest club to where I live, I made my way to Park Hall for the very first time one evening.
As soon as I went into the ground, it was definitely a case of love at first sight. Even now I tell people, when I’m evangelising on behalf of the Welsh game, that there is one turnstile, no police and all the fans, in their respective colours, mingle with each other. Its how football should be.
I started to return for more matches and found myself checking both Wolves and TNS fixture lists, so that I could plan games in advance. Like most of us, I’m a creature of habit, and I found myself occupying the same seat behind the goal every time I attended Park Hall.
I used to pay my money, watch the game and then go home afterwards. I didn’t know anyone at the club, the only person I had contact with was Sez Roberts. She was a steward and we followed each other on Twitter.
It was the start of the 2014/2015 season and TNS was launching a radio show with match-day commentary. I has already been in the crowd for the Bangor City opener, and with Rhyl FC coming up next, the club was after a fan to go on.
I saw the tweets several times – asking if any supporters were interested – but never thought of it for me. Sez, however, said I should apply. Well, it wasn’t for me but she kept at it, so in the end I gave in to the power of female persuasion.
I then had a tweet from the club that led me to turning up one evening. The result was I ‘had a go’ on the fledgling TNS Radio show. I enjoyed it but saw it as nothing more than a one-off. However, the press officer at the time, Gilbert Woolley, asked me afterwards if I would return. Like a boomerang, I’ve been going back ever since.
From the early days, my involvement began to grow. I started to write a page in the match-day programme, doing post-game interviews, a weekly column on the website. As a fan, getting involved in the club that I used to go and watch on a regular basis was a real honour.
From that first game in August 2014, the journey has been an incredible one. Fortunately I’m one of those people that follows the fortunes of a number of clubs, so I haven’t had to swap allegiances by getting involved with TNS. All I’ve done is extended my heart to allow another club in.
It’s a heart, by the way, that has encompassed the Welsh game as a whole, not just one part of it.
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