Tonight I am one chuffed Dad, as my 6 year old son has now been to see his first EVER Swansea City football game.
In years to come, will he remember that his first game was a 3-nil win for the Swans in a Carling Cup 1st Round tie against Barnet at the Liberty Stadium? Well maybe, maybe not, but at least he’s now been and what’s even better was the fact that he loved every minute of it and wants to watch the Swans every week!
It’s somewhat ironic to think that just under 20 years ago – Tuesday, 7th October 1980 to be precise – my Dad took me to my first ever Swans game. I can remember it as if it were yesterday. We were sat in the old wooden double decker stand at the Vetch Field and the Swans were up against Oldham Athletic in the ‘old’ Division Two – we also won that game 3 nil as well. Memories eh!
My son has asked about going to watch the Swans several times before over the last 2 seasons – usually when I’m going out of the door to a game – but every time it came to getting a ticket, he’d decide that he really didn’t want to go as he’d be “bored” – much to my frustration. I did begin to wonder if this day would ever come, but alas I did need to remember that he was only 6 after all.
So last Thursday you can imagine my surprise when – as someone who shows no interest in football on TV not even during the recent world cup – I casually asked him about going to “watch the Swans” he jumped at the chance to go!
Seizing the opportunity, I bought a ticket for us both (and a friend and his son – also a first timer) to go along to the match.
I’ve been a bag of nerves all day, wondering and hoping that he’d enjoy his match day experience. I needn’t have worried.
From the time we got to the Liberty Stadium at around 19:15, he was a bundle of excitement – even before he started on his bottle of pop – and we took our seats some 15 minutes prior to kick off.
The questions started flowing… “What are they doing that for?”, “Why has he got a yellow flag?”, “Where is Barnet?”, “Why is he wearing yellow boots?”, “Who’s the man with the whistle?”. This inquisitiveness continued into the game – much to my pleasure. Here was MY son and he was loving the football – the thing that most Dad’s dream about.
The game itself made it all the more interesting for both of the junior jacks – what with a missed penalty, 3 goals and plenty of nearby and goalmouth action (we were sat in the very front row of the West Stand!).
The atmosphere was quite muted and certainly nowhere near as intimidating as what greets a Championship game, but there was enough noise and banter to provide additional amusement for the kids. I’ve little doubt that the pop, sweets and chips helped a little as well.
I also managed to restrain myself from bellowing out the usual repertoire of East Stand songs/comments (obscenities?). The only exception really being me calling Barnet’s No. 4 (Mark Hughes) – no not THAT Mark Hughes – a “Donkey” due to his continuous clumsy challenges, which eventually resulted in a yellow card.
The “Donkey” comment also made it’s way home with us and my son took great pleasure in explaining this little episode to his mother and the rest of the family!! Although the “Donkey” had transformed into a “Cart Horse” by the time it was retold 🙂
He also spoke excitedly about his “favourite player”, the “really small and really fast number 12” – referring of course to Nathan Dyer. So it looks like Alan Tate will be struck off as his favourite player on his Cygnets membership now!
So there we have it, a memorable night for me and my son and perhaps his request on the way home of “Daddy, can we go every week to watch the Swans please?” – was the best result of all.
Who know’s, but a lifelong passion might just have begun tonight.