Saturday, 28 October 2017

Liberty Stadium.

Swansea 0-2 Manchester United

24th October 2017

The level of importance placed by this evening’s combatants upon this tie, and hence the trophy as a whole, could, I suppose be gauged by the number of personnel changes made by each manager from their respective most recent Premiership outings.  Swansea boss Paul Clement made eight amendments, with Jose Mourinho’s starting line-up showing seven.  The difference, of course, being that United’s seemingly bottomless pockets have facilitated the accumulation of a squad both big enough and quality enough to seamlessly allow such a thing.  Swansea City AFC enjoys no such luxury.

What it did mean though, was that I got to see Oli McBurnie – another in the seemingly endless conveyor belt of English-born players turning out for Scotland’s under-age sides these days.  The young chap did catch the eye with some neat touches and turns, but much of his best work was perforce performed rather distant from the visitors’ box.  He did come closest to scoring for the Swans in the first-half - but in truth he knew little about it - when a Daley Blind clearance cannoned off the Scot’s hip and bounced past the goal by a foot or so.

I did wonder how McBurnie would have fared had he been presented with the same service Jesse Lingard enjoyed.  The latter’s goals (one in each half) won this tie, and each was set-up for him by some fine work by his talented colleagues.  Although he did still have a fair amount to do, to finish off the moves.

McBurnie was replaced with around 20 minutes remaining by Tammy Abraham, whom I had most recently seen towards the end of last season running the Huddersfield defence ragged as a Bristol City player.  Abraham again looked a class act during his short spell on the pitch this evening, and yet he appeared at times almost disinterested in proceedings.  Leroy Fer, another second half sub for the home side, had an opportunity in the dying seconds to pull a goal back, but United ‘keeper Sergio Romero made a fine stop.  

It was, I think, the only time Romero was seriously called into action.

Swansea City v Manchester United - October 2017

Panorama of The Liberty Stadium, Swansea.

Swansea City v Manchester United - October 2017

Swansea City v Manchester United - October 2017

The Liberty Stadium, Swansea.

Cyril faces a half-time penalty

Panorama of The Liberty Stadium, Swansea.

Swansea City v Manchester United - October 2017

Oli McBurnie, Swansea City

Swansea's No 18 Jordan Ayew line up a free-kick...

...which he fires straight into Sergio Romero's arms.

A rare sight.................Luke Shaw

Romero's save prevents Fer gleaning a consolation prize.


The Liberty Stadium struck me as just about as perfect a 20,000 seater stadium as one could wish for.   The striking black and white livery, ample leg room and best of all, corners filled in.  There were a couple of large car parks, plus free parking to be had around the ground for a cheapskate like me.


Ivor Allchurch
His 23 goals for Wales included two at the 1958 World Cup Finals.

The Liberty Stadium - Swansea City AFC

Mumbles Pier

With a day to spare before leaving Wales, I spent the following morning first exploring Mumbles Pier in the unseasonably fine weather, before killing an hour in each of the Dylan Thomas Centre and the Swansea Museum.  The latter did appear to have an inordinately large amount of stuff pertaining to the city during wartime, but the real gem was discovering the exhibition of images of 1960s Swansea taken by local photographer Colin Riddle. I particularly enjoyed his Peter Sellars snap, and associated anecdote.

There was one last place I had kept the afternoon free for.  Somewhere I had long planned to visit, should I ever find myself in this part of the island.  And it was in a slightly sombre mood I typed the word “Aberfan” into my Satnav.

I am just a few years too young to have a “JFK” memory, but am fairly sure I can recall where I was when I heard of the Aberfan disaster.  I was in school.  I would have been aged 7 at the time, and I can clearly recall our teacher disappearing and leaving the class unattended for a length period that fateful  morning.  I assume all the teachers had been called to a meeting somewhere.  We must have been told of the disaster at some point later in the morning although, in truth, I have no recollection of that taking place.

What does stick in the mind, and I appreciate the utter incongruousness of this, was that a Blood Transfusion Service van arrived at the school in the afternoon, remaining parked there for some time.  This setting off the classroom rumour that we children were all going to be bled to provide blood for the surviving Aberfan children.  How foolish that sounds now.

Arriving at the village today, I first drove to the modest Garden of Remembrance built on the site of the former Pantglas Junior School which had been engulfed by the waste slip in 1966.  

Aware there is a very thin line between Paying Respects and Morbid Curiosity, I decided rather than just visit the two usual spots (the other being the cemetery) I would explore the village itself for half-an-hour or so.  The place was remarkably quiet, and I noted a number of houses, and car grills, were adorned with large bunches of ribbons, made into the shape of a flower.  I assume these had been there since the 51st anniversary a few days earlier.  

Making my way down to the metal footbridge which crosses the River Taff, I suddenly found myself surrounded by half a dozen primary school-aged children with a couple of parents.  Clearly school had just come out.  I realised to my astonishment I had, utterly illogically, not expected there to be any children in the village.      

From the bridge – indeed from most places in the village, one can see the white arches of the memorial in the surprisingly capacious cemetery; the arches overlooking the community, as I imagine the spoil heaps once did.  A number of mature trees have grown over the intervening half century and now obscure the arches from certain points in the valley.   Were it up to me I would have these trees lopped down.  But, of course, it is not.

As a confirmed anti-theist, I did find the religious messages on the memorial “Taken by God”, “An Angel in Heaven, now” and the like, difficult to read.  But I imagine grieving families had to take comfort where they could.  I did note one memorial – that of 10 year-old Victoria Symonds – had no invoking of the supernatural, her’s quite bluntly stating:


I found myself rather admiring Mr & Mrs Symonds. 

I took no pictures in the village.  Partly because these are so many already on the internet should anyone wish to seek them out, but mainly because they would have appeared utterly inappropriate on such a frivolous site as this one.

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