What a pleasant sunny day in North Wales, visiting magnificent castles and walled towns in CARNAERVON and CONWY and some photo opps. at the longest named railway station in the world, in LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGOGERYCHWYRNDROBWLLLLANTYSILIOGOGOGOGOCH, on the Isle of Anglesey, plus a visit to the new football ground of LLanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogogoch FC. You can purchase their unique club badge, with 26 letters around the crest. The name means St. Mary's Church by the white hazel pool, near the fierce waterfall, with the church of Tysilio by the Red Cave. www.llanfairpwll.org/Peldroed. is their web site in Welsh and English.
Finally, back along the splendid North Wales coastal highway to RHYL, a famous seaside resort, for the first round of the UEFA Champions League, first leg: Rhyl FC v FK Partizan Belgrade of Serbia. It was the most important game of the Lillywhites history, as the club at the trim Belle Vue stadium is nicknamed. They won the Welsh Premier League title over full timers Llanelli from South Wales, and this was their reward. The league has 18 clubs, far too many, and will be trimmed to just 12 next season and then further to only 10. Look at www.footiemap.com for all clubs.
Outside I greeted the referee team, whose nationality (Spanish) was obvious from their slicked and greasy hair, as greasy as the local Welsh mountain sheep need to keep dry from the rain, and just like John Travolta. I also spoke with a couple of cameramen from the Welsh language sports programme SGORIO who were covering the match live. A large crowd for these parts, 1,750, turned up paying £15.00 a ticket, about twice the Welsh League prices and about 3 times the regular crowd. We had chanting and banners in the Netwell Scaffolding Stand - 'Rhyl West End Boys', 'Sunny Rhyl Liverpool Arms' (a nearby pub), and even the swallows got excited flying around the ground. www.rhylfc.com. www.partizan.rs for more information.
No national anthems of course for UEFA matches, since many teams are full of foreign players. It would be nice to play the European anthem, ODE TO JOY. The UEFA FAIR PLAY Flag and the RESPECT flag, alongside the Welsh and Swedish flags(maybe for the UEFA match delegate?) although they were from Italy and Iceland !!, were flying from the roof of the stands.
Referee Cesar Muniz Fernandez blew his whistle and we were away. Partizan, losing finalists to Real Madrid 1-2 in the 1966 European Cup Final, are more used to be playing Marseilles, Porto, Rangers etc. while Rhyl's usual opponents are Bala Town, Prestatyn, Bangor City, Newtown. It took 17 minutes for skill to prevail, with Mladen Krstajic scoring from a free kick on the edge of the area, and within a minute they doubled the lead through Cleverson.
Although they wore the VW logo on their black jerseys,their midfield engine purred like that of the black Bentley Coupe of the Rhyl FC President, Peter Parry, parked ostentaciously outside the main entrance. Peter was a prolific striker, whose playing career was cut short by injury at just 23 years old. A minute before half-time and it was 3-0 through Diarra and the only excitement left was who would win a prize in the draw for the T.V. set, sack of coal and Welsh leg of lamb !! or whatever the other prizes were.
One more goal after the break in the 69th minute from Nenad Djordjevic, but the Lillywhites did well, with limited resources, to keep the score down, but Partizan coach Slavisa Jokanovic can relax on the flight home with a glass or two of slivovic plum brandy. Despite the score it was a very entertaining evening and a reward for all the backroom hard work by the volunteer committee. and a greatshow of how the beautiful game should be played for the many young players watching. Maybe another Ryan Giggs, John Charles or Ian Rush will emerge from here.