The past week was very much Irn-Bru Cup focused as far as I was concerned. From a personal point of view, the competition is more than just a game of football, there’s more it than that.
I’ve been at the draws and also the promotional events prior to matches and it was the latter that kicked the week off. With the captains in attendance, an early Tuesday start at the Irn-Bru factory meant that Paul Harrison and I travelled the day before.
With no fixed meetings in place, I boarded the 11.37 from Wolverhampton en route to Glasgow Central, so that I could enjoy a full day north of the English border. Albeit with a patchy internet signal at times, I used the time wisely by getting some work done on the way.
With H not joining me till fairly late in the evening, I took advantage of the workspace in my room by doing some more TNS stuff, this time with a perfect signal. I also had a walk around Glasgow, and as the hotel close to the River Clyde, I took that in as well.
I love football-related travelling and if it involves staying over somewhere, so much the better. The only thing to rival it is a night out at the water’s edge, apart from a holiday with my wife of course, that goes without saying.
Meeting our goalkeeper and captain at the station, we walked back to the hotel together as we both retired to our respective room for the night. The rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of the football world, eh.
Up bright and early next morning, following breakfast we headed for the taxi rank around the corner and set off, driven by Jim Watson, for Cumbernauld and the centre of the universe. Well, as far as Scotland’s favourite soft drink is concerned anyway. You really do have to visit the nation to fully appreciate just how popular it is.
Once at the factory it was a case of familiar faces, as my regular trips have developed friendships with the likes of Iain Telford from Irn-Bru plus Andrew Boocock and Tom Hallam from Stripe Communications, the PR and Communications company that works alongside the Scottish fizzy drinks giant.
In addition, throw in the people from BBC Alba, SFA and SPFL and you’ve got some high profile connections made and links forged on behalf of The New Saints. For as much as the importance of the professional links though, what I’ve valued more than anything are the personal friendships that have been birthed.
On the train journey home, sitting across from us was the well-known Glasgow comedian, Kevin Bridges. It was a good job H was there to point that out though as I hadn’t even heard of him, never mind recognise the face. Along with a photograph of Paul and Kevin for some TNS media publicity, I also got a selfie. Always a selfie.
Our two days in the Glasgow area were excellent. However, it was very much back down to earth at the weekend as the bittersweet emotions of the week swung the opposite way. For the second season on the bounce we made it to the semi-final stage of the competition, only to stumble again against Scottish Championship opponents.
Still, there’s always next season. Assuming we finish in the top two in the JD Welsh Premier League and the format remains the same, we’ll be back. I know that I speak on behalf of everyone at Park Hall – from the boardroom to the stands – when I say that we have thoroughly enjoyed our time in the competition. And long may that continue.
Rev’s Ramblings is a weekly blog, following my adventures with the champions of Wales from a personal perspective.