Life as a football fan is seldom dull.
Oh, occasional games fade from the memory of course. And, over the years, the odd promising youngster or continental trialist may sometimes prove hard to recall.
But on the whole, there is usually something going on.
The charity Gôl! founded by Welsh football fans in 2002, works hard to project a positive image of Wales, and Welsh football in particular, whenever Wales play. Doubtless you’ve read of their trips to children’s homes and other institutions in Bosnian outposts or Georgian causes. You may have met the kids we brought over from Serbia when we took ‘em to Barry Island.
Such events tend to cluster around actual matches of course, but they don’t just happen overnight. A drive to Macedonia takes some planning. Gôl is a 12-month thing.
A few years ago, Welsh Government launched its St David’s Awards. These are the national awards of Wales, with recipients nominated by the public across a range of categories. (Chris Coleman was a winner in the Sports Category in 2016.) Gôl! were nominated in the International category this year and reached the final!
Representatives of Gôl! attended the Wales Millennium Centre last month when the finalists were announced. Gôl! were delighted to share the stage with other hard working good causes and humbled by the citation, which described how Gôl! helps present a positive image of Wales to the international community.
But there was no resting on laurels here, for later in February, three of us from Gôl! headed up to Wrexham, where the Saith Seren pub hosted a fundraising quiz…..and I even tossed in a round on Wrexham! The following morning, saw us up early to take in a visit to Wrexham’s Bellevue Park where Bellevue hosted Wrexham Inclusion FC as part of the kick it out campaign. No game for the faint hearted this one.
A quick check of our Football Grounds of England and Wales Atlas threw up another gem for the afternoon. Port Vale we, discovered, was less than 90 minutes drive…….and a new ground for two of us. Toss in the fact that Vale would be entertaining Newport County, and well, the decision was made for us really.
Sadly the romance of a day in the Potteries was not matched by events on the field. A dire game, played in freezing cold conditions ended 0-0. But, as often seems to be the case, the off field memories were the ones which lingered. The desperate home fans urging their beloved Port Vale on; the evocative match programme, which hinted at days gone by; and 300 away fans crying “Amber Army” for all they were worth. Only a Game? Yeah, right…..
By the time we returned to Cardiff, this hectic schedule was taking its toll. But there was little time to relax. The Championship beckoned. Cardiff City v Bristol City. More low quality fare, as these two local rivals pushed and shoved each other to a standstill. Of the three matches in 24 hours, it narrowly eclipsed Port Vale v County but fell some way short of the meaty encounter at windy Bellevue Park.
But isn’t that we do it? It’s the drama we seek, week by week.
I could just pop in a DVD I guess, where I know that Batman will win in the end. Or take in a West End show, where Harry meets Sally. Again.
But no, we fill our days worrying about directions to Port Vale or where to park to watch Bristol City on Sunday lunchtimes. If there are no games on, some of us fill our time in other ways, taking gifts across Europe in pursuit of wider goals, or arguing over the picture round in a Wrexham pub. Friends made up and down the land. Rivalries formed, rivalries set aside.
Isn’t football great eh?
David Collins is a Welsh football fan. Like, all of Welsh football. He’s also a keen supporter of Welsh football fans charity Gôl, which raises money for children who really, really need it. You can find their JustGiving page here:
We're all about Welsh football.