Our trip to south Yorkshire saw a couple of new additions – in the form of Simon Jack and Guffer Jack – to the ever growing membership list of the Dieters Bar Jacks. Biker Jack, Conker Jack and moi made up the rest of the 5 strong contingent for the day.
Up at the crack of dawn (behave you lot) we duly departed our meeting point in the Swansea valley at 06:50am and were well on time to pick up Guffer Jack in Cardiff. With time on our side, we thought it a worthwhile exercise to try and book some swimming lessons from some world renowned experts in that particular field.
Unfortunately, no one was available to take a booking so we opted to send our request via twitter instead. The response it received from several Cardiff fans provided us with much hilarity for the 255 mile journey ahead.
We made good time and duly arrived at our usual pee stop in Stencham services (get it?). It wasn’t long before we saw the usual hordes of Swansea fans milling around. It also didn’t escape my notice that – as always seems to be the case – we bumped in some Aston Villa fans. Distinctly no sign of a love-in though – thankfully.
Anyway, the weeks preceding this fixture had seen me utilise t’internet to find some decent establishments in the Barnsley area that would serve us well before going to the game. So with the traffic flowing smoothly (bar the roadworks and 50mph limit on the M42) we duly arrived in the rather seemingly stereotypical Yorkshire village of Hoyland around 11:45am.
A note to all car drivers at this point, NEVER listen to the jokes the passengers are telling, when you should be concentrating on the dialogue between Jane (the sat-nav bird) and yourself, otherwise you’ll end missing the turn-off!
Muchas gracias to the blonde lady whom stopped her car for me to take the above picture. If you should ever read this, Simon Jack would love to have your phone number and ‘hook up’ via Facebook 🙂
Our hosts at the Hare and Hounds gave us a warm welcome and we were mightily impressed by the size of the servings of the food – much to the delight of my stomach.
Whilst having our pre-match meal and tipple, we had a most surreal moment – when watching Sky News – of seeing a LIVE interview with Will Greenwood from none other than the liberty stadium! Quite bizarre, but thankfully we were saved from the horrors of watching the Ospreys.
The 8 mile drive (didn’t Eminem go that far once?) to Oakwell was a straightforward affair and we duly parked right outside the ground. It’s worth mentioning that contrary to popular belief there wasn’t a flat cap or ferret in sight. Although I suppose the best way of summing up the impression we got of Barnsley was that it was “like Morriston but with more shops” – I’ll let you make your own minds up if that’s favourable or not!?
The ground itself was proper old skool and it showed its age, but you’ve got to admit that the older grounds have a certain character and charisma that is sadly missing from the new stadia of today.
Please note the strong empty seat theme developing in these pictures!
We guestimated around 350-450 Jacks were present to witness the homecoming of little Leon and he got a warm welcome during the warm-up with the statutory chant of “Leon, Leon, Leon”.
Now I’m not one for writing match reports, as the professionals can summarise far better than I, but I will give my usual bullet point appraisal of proceedings:
* The pitch was more bobbly than a teenager suffering from acne;
* A sliced clearance from Jazz Richards set the tone for a half-hearted and lacklustre opening 45 minutes;
* From where we were stood (a rarity at football matches these days) there seemed some uncertainty as to whether the ball did actually cross the line for Barnsley’s goal;
* Messrs Allen and Gower were being out-muscled in midfield and I’d say we lost 90% of all 50-50 challenges;
* We could and possibly should have been more than 1 goal down at half-time;
* The home support was pretty mute, as appears to be the case with most home support these days – ours included!
* Rosie Webster – real name Helen Flanagan – was indeed sat in with the Jack Army (well platoon perhaps would be more apt given the numbers present);
* Buck had obviously given the boys a bollocking during the interval;
* We dominated from the start of the 2nd half – by getting stuck in and creating plenty of goal-scoring opportunities;
* The introduction of Leon and Dobbie – and VDG to a lesser extent – had a major impact and we were far more direct and purposeful as a result;
* Our initial reaction to the penalty award was that Sinclair had been reading “101 Great Dives by Jurgen Klinnsman” – but we weren’t going to complain!
* Barnsley weren’t anywhere as near fit as us and if we’d have played 5 minutes more I think we’d have sneaked a winner;
* Our man of the match votes were split between Dorus, Big Ash and Pratley;
* We didn’t bother with a stinker of the match award as there were too many of them!
* The “Brendans” and “Barmy Army” chant remix started by myself and compatriots – which lasted for the best part of 30 minutes – obviously had the desired effect 🙂
* Despite the rumours on twitter, I can assure Scott Sinclair that I didn’t keep Rosie company is his absence – although plenty of others seemed to be trying to!
Here is Scotty’s penalty from the away end…
…apologies for his “Blowing kisses to Rosie” goal celebration being omitted, but I had my own celebration to concentrate on.
So in reflection and on the balance of play, we felt it was actually a useful point gained rather than 2 points lost.
Content with our hoard for the day, we made our way home happy with our contribution from the away end and with dreams of the Swans hitting the Premiership with more new grounds to visit next season – today was my 44th – very much intact.