Archive for November, 2007

Time for the FAW to support the fans

Posted: November 28, 2007 in Uncategorized
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Is the Football Association of Wales going to slash the extortionate prices of tickets at the Millennium Stadium?
Well, possibly, if you read today’s papers.
Average turnout at matches during the Euro 2008 qualifiers was just over 24,000, with middle tier seats costing £35 plus booking and postage fees.
The Western Mail today reported that a cut in prices was the last thing on FAW secretary David Collins’ mind.
According to Collins: “I have heard people say tickets were expensive for the Euro campaign just gone, but you could still purchase them for £10 and £5 in the lower tier.
“In my eyes, that represented terrific value for money. And remember, the lower tier holds 23,000 seats, which is almost a third of the ground.
“Tickets for other parts of the ground ranged from £35 to £25. But, with respect, people pay four times that to watch Premiership matches.”
However, not all FAW suits appear happy to think of a stadium with just the lower tier filled.
The South Wales Echo reported today that the governing body does look set to slash prices in a bid to boost John Toshack’s assault on World Cup 2010 qualification.
“The Football Association of Wales hierarchy want a return to the capacity attendances that roared on Mark Hughes’ team to within a whisker of the Euro 2004 finals,” claimed the Echo.
The decision would mean a return to the £5 and £10 ticket policy – and a cut of around £15 to sit in the middle tier.
“We want to get behind the team and we want the supporters to be there,” said an unnamed FAW official – presumably not Mr Collins. “We see no point in 20,000-30,000 fans rattling around a 70,000-seater stadium.”
Interestingly, Welsh fans have just returned from Germany, where supporters pick up tickets for the top flight Bundesliga for an average price of under 19 Euro.
The 98-page A4 programme produced by the Germans for last week’s international cost just one euro. Welsh fans pay £3.50 for the far less impressive product sold here.

Jesse James’ Welsh roots

Posted: November 27, 2007 in Uncategorized
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Family history is one of the most popular subjects on the internet.
And our fascination with genealogy reveals an interesting truth.
It’s embarrassing to find your father is a shoplifter; but discovering your great-great-grandfather was a cattle rustler is a matter of great pride.
We long to dig up something interesting, even if it makes us a descendant of a criminal.
In this week’s Big Issue I’ve a feature on trigger-happy Jesse James, currently being played by Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
It explores James’ likely Welsh roots with family historian Eric James.
By the way, if you are a male with the surname James and come originally from Pembrokeshire or Caernarvon you can participate in the James Family DNA Study.
“We are actively searching for today’s James relatives in the Wales and the UK,” Eric tells me. “The cost is $199.00US. Individual results are not publicly published. Parties who match other parties are notified and it is their choice to contact each other or not.”
And a positive result does not entitle you to say you look like Brad Pitt.

Frankfurt Joy – Germany 0 v 0 Wales

Posted: November 24, 2007 in Uncategorized
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Great atmosphere in the cold, dark woods outside Frankfurt on Wednesday as just under 50,000 fans made their way to the Commerzbank-Arena.
Few believed, though, that Wales would come away with anything other than a four or five goal defeat.

In the end, it was a night of celebration. One of those nil-nils which feel like a victory.
Behind me a group of fans counted down the clock to see who was going to win a sweepstake on the first German goal. Two minutes gone. Then five. Seven. Ten. Twenty-two. Suddenly, it was half-time and Wales were doing more than holding their own.

On the hour mark thoughts went back to the San Siro during the last European championship campaign. We were keeping the Italians out that night after 60 minutes but got well beaten by four late goals.

It wasn’t to be the same on Wednesday, though. A great and passionate performance by Toshack’s men.
There was something else different from the night in Milan: the home fans.

Many Italian fans acted appallingly that night. The Germans were gracious and friendly.
There was no segregation so in Block 17N Welsh and German fans mingled and chatted.
Many celebrated the score coming through from Wembley; others laughed at the Welsh fans who suddenly discovered that the ‘bier’ they had been allowed to bring to their seats during the game was actually alcohol free.

Asylum Justice

Posted: November 13, 2007 in Uncategorized
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This week’s Big Issue Cymru highlights the case of young mum Veneera Aliyeva who the government is trying to deport to Azerbaijan.
She is currently in Yarl’s Wood removal centre with her two children.
But campaigners in Swansea, where she has lived for more than a year, are trying to get her returned to South Wales.
According to Asylum Justice, 40-year-old Veneera (sometimes Venera) has been persecuted on two counts in Azerbaijan: because she is a Baptist and an Armenian.
During several years of persecution, she went through a series of horrific experiences, including being raped twice.
Asylum Justice, supported by Bethan Jenkins AM, is also trying to help another resident of Swansea.
Zola Gidi has lived in the city for 16 years. She is described as “a wonderful neighbour”, “a loyal friend”, “an extremely hard worker” and “generally a good member of the community”.
All the same, she now faces forcible removal to South Africa.

St Athan, Raytheon and the Cluster Bomb

Posted: November 9, 2007 in Uncategorized
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Raytheon, one of the companies behind the St Athan development, today distances itself from the dreaded cluster bomb.
But, as reported here before, the arms trade – including Raytheon – rarely does what it says on the tin – or the shell casing: there are no “New! Improved! Limb-Remover Landmines!”
The Western Mail today quotes a company spokesman as saying: “Raytheon does not manufacture cluster bombs or any associated delivery vehicles. Any assertion to the contrary is based on dated information that is no longer valid or correct.
“To clarify, Raytheon has never manufactured cluster bombs, but in the past we have been associated with their manufacture because of our contract to produce a missile that can carry different types of munition payloads, determined by the customer…”
Well, there you go. It never made the bombs. But it did make a delivery vehicle.
And what a delivery vehicle.
The item in question was the AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon, used extensively in Iraq and which in 2006 it sold to Turkey.
According to Raytheon’s own press team in April 2006: “The AGM-154 A (also called JSOW-A) variant dispenses BLU-97 combined-effect bomblets for use against soft andarea targets. It is produced for use on the F/A-18, F-16, F-15E, B-1, B-2 and B-52 aircraft.”

Ebro Memorial

Posted: November 2, 2007 in Uncategorized
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Vandals defaced a plaque in honour of the International Brigade volunteers who were killed nearly 70 years ago in the Battle of the Ebro.
But on Saturday, November 10, a new plaque will be placed in memory of the dead of one of the Spanish Civil War’s bitterest battles.
The memorial is set at the top of a hill near Gandesa, overlooking the battlefield in north-eastern Spain.
The original plaque – which was inaugurated in May 2005 – was stolen earlier this year when symbols and slogans of the Spanish fascist party, the Falange, were daubed in its place.
The memorial is on Hill 705, near the village of Pinell de Bray in southern Catalonia. The site in the Sierra de Pandols mountain range was the scene of fierce fighting between the British Battalion of the International Brigades and General Franco’s rebel army from July to September 1938.
Franco was backed by German and Italian troops and aircraft sent by Hitler and Mussolini to crush the Spanish Republic.
The cost of the new plaque is being met by the local council of Pinell de Bray.
The Welshmen remembered on the plaque are: Alec Cummings (Cardiff); Harry Dobson (Rhondda); Willie Durston (Aberaman); Sid James (Treherbert); Dai Jones (Mardy); Tom Howell Jones (Aberdare); Alwyn Skinner (Neath); Jim Strangward (Neath); Brazell Thomas (Llanelli); James Watts (Swansea).