This game had been billed as the inaugural “TwitterJacks on Tour” trip and with the Swans needing a win to stay in the hunt for automatic promotion – the excitement levels were at fever pitch for those making the trip.
Our journey north to the Lancashire market town of Burnley, started bright and early at 7am with a rendezvous in the Swansea valley – the usual meeting point for Ynysforgan Jack, Hazza Jack, Porn Jack (aptly named due to being the owner of Carmarthen’s only porn production company) and yours truly.
We opted to take the scenic route through mid Wales in order to (a) shave 50 odd miles off our journey and (b) to savour the stunning views that Powys had to offer. However, the early morning mist and Hazza Jack requesting a vomit stop early doors did nothing for our appreciation of hidden gems such as Llanwrtyd Wells.
Thankfully by the time we reached Rhayader the sun had burned away the mist and we were able to lap up the rolling mountains and bright blue sky. Those of you familiar with this stretch of the A470 will probably be well aware of the large pheasant population in the area.
What we hadn’t realised was that April 16th is THE day each year when all male pheasants get to show off their daring and sexual prowess to potential partners by playing “chicken” with the passing cars. Judging by the number of pheasant fatalities we observed, we concluded that there might well be quite a few pheasant harems in the making. It really was a field day for any passing pheasant pluckers.
Once we’d passed the kamikaze pheasants it was plain sailing right the way through to our chosen toilet stop at Chester Services on the M56. Unusually, we didn’t see any other Swans fans, or any other football fans for that matter.
Our next stop was to be for our pre-match meal and having done my homework, I’d found the ‘Farmers Glory’ in Haslingden – some 10 miles from Burnley – which had been given some favourable recent reviews on trip advisor (after some dodgy ones it has to be said!).
My passengers were somewhat alarmed by the name of the establishment and I had to put up with jibes of “squeal like a pig boy” and horrible things about banjo players, etc. This wasn’t helped by Jane the sexy sat nav lady directing me up what could only be described as a farm track!
Thankfully after a slight detour we duly arrived at noon and were greeted by some pleasant (no not pheasant) staff.
A breakdown in email connectively on my phone meant I couldn’t tantalise my twitter followers with the range of food on offer, which was a great shame as it was very nice – if a wee bit pricey perhaps. How does £10 for steak pudding, mash, peas and gravy – with the chunky chips an extra £2.50 grab you?
With our stomachs at bursting point, we departed the premises – which incidentally could easily have been the setting for Emmerdale – and were on our way to Turf Moor.
For anyone planning a trip to Turf Moor, here’s a top tip – head for Burnley cricket club which is literally right next to the ground and where for £5 you can park your car without any hassle.
Upon our arrival we were met by lots of Swansea and Burnley fans happily mixing in the clubhouse, eating and drinking (even singing) to their hearts content. It was also great to see young kids from both clubs playing football against each other on the outfield in the glorious sunshine.
Contrary to what Andrew Flintoff had said about Burnley folk earlier in the week, I didn’t see any 6-fingered locals and all the ones I spoke to could indeed read and write.
According to my twitter stream, it appears as though there were numerous other TwitterJacks at the cricket club at the same time, but unfortunately our paths didn’t cross.
A 5 minute walk around the perimeter of the cricket ground and we were at the away turnstile and heading into the dated 1960’s era David Fishwick stand – complete with wooden seats and steel frame! This was football stadium retro style (well ok, apart from two stands it was) and we loved it.
We estimated around 700 plus Jacks present, whom were in good voice, even if in some cases a little inebriated and everyone seemed happy with the news of Britton and Pratley returning to the midfield.
I’m no match reporter, so I’ll summarise my own take on the 90 minutes with a series of bullet points…
* We were composed and created enough chances to be ahead before half time – especially having hit the woodwork twice (Sinclair and Pratley);
* Dyer in particular was causing problems for their left back and Sinclair was once again double marked;
* Gower was once again having a good game in midfield – spraying long pinpoint passes to the wingers;
* The home support was muted to say the least;
* I’d never witnessed claret and blue vertical blinds in a hospitality box before;
* Rosie Webster (or Helen as I know her) was present and was sporting a look more akin to Melissa from The Apprentice than a Championship footballers WAG (but I’m no expert on fashion it must be said);
* We initially started the half where we left off in the 1st;
* Borini’s finish was well taken and we looked like we’d go on to score more with our new found confidence;
* Did the introduction of Iwelumo make Williams wary of the aerial threat posed and consequently make him attempt the clearance (rather than leave it for DeVries) that lead to the freaky own goal?
* The manner of the goal seemed to knock us more than the fact it was the equaliser;
* The introduction of Priskin and Moore at 1 apiece was baffling – why not introduce Dobbie for some creativity first before the last chance saloon substitutions?
* It was never a penalty in a million years – Rangel didn’t touch Rodriguez, but he still went down like he’d been taken from behind by John Holmes;
* The frustration of the players was extremely evident, especially when decisions went against us;
* When Dobbie did come on, it was too late as our confidence seemed shot;
* The travelling Jacks gave Graham Alexander – the Burnley player making his 1,000th league appearance – a standing ovation when he came on, which was a nice touch;
* After we scored, a rather large (in waist terms) middle-aged man was ejected from the away end for what appeared to be either (a) talking too much to Helen Flanagan or (b) for allegedly having a canoe in his light grey tracksuit bottoms. Whatever it was, there was a heated verbal exchange between said tracksuit owner and police officer;
All in all it had been an extremely eventful 95 minutes, but what happened AFTER the final whistle deserves a mention all of its own.
As the players were departing the field – and we were retrieving our flag – there were a few Swans fans whom decided to boo the team and one fan in particular choose to single out Mark Gower for some vitrolic abuse.
Gower’s response was a mimed “Who me?” with a look of sheer disbelief on his face, which saw a further foul-mouthed outburst from this so called fan. Gower clearly angered by this treatment responded to the fan with a mouthed “f*ck off” and middle finger salute, before disappearing down the tunnel.
For me, Leon Britton’s face summed the whole episode up as it was one of sheer disbelief as to what he had just heard/seen from our so called “fans”. Whilst Gower was probably wrong to respond to the personal barracking he took, the individual whom had a go at him and the minority whom booed the team really need to take a reality check.
We were ALL disappointed, frustrated, even angry but did we ALL travel over 450 odd miles to slag off the players whom have helped take the Swans to where they are in the Championship and whom could quite conceivably see us into the Premiership? No I didn’t think so.
Reflecting on how we’d managed to lose the game, we trudged off back to the car and by 17:30 we were off on our long journey home. We did however incur the wrath (or rather road rage) of a forty-something local chap on our way out of Burnley town centre – whilst changing lanes.
Despite having indicated, obviously an outstretched arm and accompanying wave (as a thank you) in Burnley is considered as an invitation to call the offending driver “a w*nker” and “queue jumping f*cker” whilst waving your fist. Mind you a number plate of T3 TOY on an old skool silver Ford Fiesta tells it’s own story I guess. Apologies to anyone who’s reading this whom owns a Fiesta (car that is not magazine) no comparative offence is intended.
With my foot to the floor, we made good time and by 22:15 the TwitterJacks Tour Bus was parked up and unloaded. Taking into consideration that we’d abandoned Porn Jack on top of the Black Mountains (momentarily) and had to avoid a crazy woman crawling in the middle of the road in Cwmgors, I think it we’d made really good time.
Despite being tired and weary, the rollercoaster ride that is Swansea City still has 3 weeks of twists and turns left and who knows come May 7th where it’ll stop. I still believe, do you?