My WC OG

The thing about celebrities is this. We know them, they don’t know us.
They are celebrities, in fact, for that reason.
This all might some pretty basic stuff for you lot but I’m getting it straight for myself. And I’m a little slow.
Take my recent encounter with John Toshack, the Wales football manager.
In my defence, I’d point out the meeting took me by surprise. It was in the toilet of a rather pleasant hotel in Dublin.
I’d enjoyed a liquid lunch and an equally solid-free high tea.
On wandering into the gents to make myself more comfortable, I saw a figure at the sink. Although he had his back to me, the centre forward’s build was a familiar one.
“John!” I blurted out, from my unsteady position at the cubicle.
He spun around, no less nimbly than had he been getting on the end of a pass by his 1970s Liverpool strike partner Kevin Keegan.
Tosh stared. I’d say he was trying to put a name to the face but there was, I can say without any doubt, absolutely no recognition in those eyes.
And why should there have been? We’d last met around 1980 when I’d got his autograph during a charity event at Llandysilio. I’d been about 11.
“It’s Greg,” I said, only half stumbling on my own idiocy. “I’m from Wales.”
Silence.
Faced with this bumbling idiot who, after all, was using the function for which the curved porcelain was provided, what would Tosh do? Smile politely, then turn on his heel and leave, surely.
Well, no, actually, he gave me his thoughts on Wales’ upcoming spring contest with Ireland and talked through the different permutations which could still see the side qualify for Euro 2008.
Great quotes, but I didn’t get any of them down.
Some journalist, eh?
Though I wasn’t in the best position for making notes.

This is a cold, telephone-talking, computer-communicating call centre world designed, in spite of what they say, for the seller, the business, the multi-national, and not for you and me.
That’s why unassuming consumer champions often find themselves celebrated local heroes.
Take Roger Annies, the postman who showed people on his round how they could put a stop to junk mail.
When he was suspended by Royal Mail, there was an outcry. He was reinstated after a disciplinary hearing but hasn’t returned to work through stress.
He must be heartened by the campaign started in his local paper, the Barry and District News.
The News wants German-born Roger nominated for one of the Royal Mail’s own First Class People Awards.
The ceremony honours posties who carry out public spirited acts.
Well, if like me you’ve a bad back from transferring junk mail from the door mat to the bin, you might want go along to the News’ website and post your support for Roger.

:First published The Big Issue, December 4-8

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Brazil v Wales

Excellent performance by Wales last night.
I know you are not supposed to say that after a defeat, but it was Brazil.
Wales held strong until the second half, run-out substitutions.
Bale, Duffy, Giggs and Collins, all had excellent games.
So did the fans in the Wales end.
Two great goals from the Brazilians and as a first half shot went wide from the South Americans and spun in our direction it met a crowd of hands and then hit my wife on the head.
She had her eyes closed but she is very pleased to have got on the end of a ball by either Baptista or Edmilson (we were too excited to see who struck it).
I’m proud of her work.
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The Gentle Giant


I don’t know why this picture came out all orange but it shows Ian Rush opening The Gentle Giant exhibition at Rhydycar Leisure Centre in Merthyr Tydfil yesterday.
Rushie – back from watching a couple of games in the World Cup – paid quite a tribute to Wales’ greatest ever footballer, John Charles, before taking a look around the exhibition.
Some great stuff there, including a ball suspended in mid-air apparently at the height Charles could reach to header a cross into the back of the net.
It is very high. Exhibition creator Phil Cope made me have a leap for it as assorted Merthyr councillors and Dowlais choristers looked on.
I probably wouldn’t have reached it if I’d sat on the council chief’s shoulders.

Latest football dilemma

Today considering the latest dilemma thrown football fans’ way by the FAW: whether to travel to Graz in Austria to see a Wales friendly against Trinidad and Tobago.
Bearing in mind the May 27 fixture falls only a fortnight before the World Cup kicks off one wonders what sort of side T and T will put out.

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Missing caps

Scottish football fans are campaigning for the late Stewart Imlach who played four times for his country – including during the 1958 World Cup – but never received an international cap.
Apparently, the Scottish FA then only awarded actual caps for matches played against Wales, England and Northern Ireland.
I wonder if any Welsh players, including those from the squad which went to the tournament in Sweden, also missed out?

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A Night At Liberty

Headed to the Liberty Stadium last night to see Swansea City’s sell-out clash with Yeovil.
Lee Trundle was on fire and all the talk was as to whether the Swans could hold on to him come the January transfer window.
His second goal was a remarkable 40-yard lob which, had this been a Premiership game, would have been played over and over on TV this weekend.
It was greeted with a mixture of awe and wonder by the 19,288 crowd.
So too was the last minute streaker who burst from a lower stand in the dying minutes to cling on to Yeovil’s shocked keeper Chris Weale.
Two stewards grappled with the young woman, who wore only a thong (regulation winter clothing for the rest of the 19,287 in the stadium was a minimum three layers).
“That’s why we’re top o’ th’league,” sang the home fans in tribute to her performance.
On the way down to Swansea I’d stood in the buffet car with a £2.40 can of Carlsberg listening to the conversations around me.
One man, an off-duty police officer, was bragging to a newly-acquired friend about how to challenge a suspect: “I’d say, ‘I have reason to believe you have been involved in… etc etc.’”
He then took the man in some sort of arm lock, while demanding he turn out his pockets.
Later on a young teen egged on by a friend went up to the bar to try to buy some alcohol. The friend hung back out of sight.
“I’ll have some crisps,” said the rosy-cheeked youngster. “Hmmm… and a can of lager.”
“How old are you?” said the woman behind the bar.
The boy crumbled.
He wandered back to his friend with crisps and a bottle of Coke. “They didn’t have any lager,” he said.

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