Sorry for the delay. I've only just arrived back from Wales. It took me that long to recover after a party with the Motherwell fans anyway Thanks for your incredible hospitality.
For the full version with photos including a few of the away support CLICK ME
All's well in Cymru
Deep breath now: UEFA Europa League 1st Qualifying Round 2nd Leg
A European tie played over two legs, winner goes through to the next round, perfect. Don't give me any of that group stages nonsense, nobody wants it aside from a couple of suits at UEFA HQ and half a dozen Channel 5 viewers.
This match caused me to look up Llanelli on the old map as shamefully, I didn't know its exact location. There she jolly well was, just to the left of Swansea - I've heard of that, or moreover them, Swansea City - and not too far from the Brecon Beacons where the wife and I were on a walking holiday for the week. BIN and if you would GO. Impromptu EFW anyone!? Rather.
The day started (get on with it - Ed) with a 16km walk around the Three Cliffs Bay and the Gower Peninsula. I say 16km, the walk was actually slightly elongated. Due to not being totally focused on directions and more on the evenings entertainment, I goosed up with my map skills. The wife and I ended up getting horribly lost. Luckily, help was on hand in the shape of Welsh Alun who was passing by in his car and took pity on us. He dropped us off in the only place en route *blink blink* that I could remember, The King Arthur Hotel in Reynoldston. The areas best pub. Worse things happen at sea eh!?
After that early drama, it was time to wave a little white flag to the walk and commit ourselves to a three hour pre-match over in Llanelli. The joy of running this website is the links and friendships that stem from it. Brothers Andy and Stew had been sending in photos from their travels to EFW for sometime. They follow Motherwell and Scotland - absolutely everywhere - and so I dialled them up and arranged to meet them for a couple of polite ones.
The match had been moved from Llanelli's normal HQ; the 3,700 capacity Steboneath Park due to the fact that it only has 1,012 seats and UEFA rules dictate fans have to sit at these games. Motherwell fans travel to European away games in their thousands and as such common sense prevailed and we shifted up the road to the new Parc Y Scarlets rugby stadium in which 14,870 people could squeeze in.
Conscious of losing out on thousands of pounds worth of beer money. Llanelli AFC set up a very welcome 'fan zone' at the football ground during the day. It was organised to perfection. As expected, two thousand or so Motherwell fans had descended on South Wales and most of them were here. Drinking lots, singing, dancing, enjoying themselves, causing no bother to anyone and putting smiles on peoples faces. It was pre-match heaven.
I was a trifle concerned prior to my arrival. I'm English and this was a party reserved for Welsh and Scottish fans. I needn't have worried. The only arguments taking place in the social club were over who was going to get the rounds in. Beers arrived at our table at (very) regular intervals and before you knew it, my wife and I were loosening our vocal chords and partaking in the full repertoire of Motherwell songs. 98% of those present were away fans.
Just as they'd done in
, Motherwell fans
en masse. Quite a spectacle. Trouble is, we didn't quite make it. You know how it is. The pre-match session is often the best part of any matchday. As such we opted for an extra couple of beers with our new pals and delayed our departure to the ground until the last moment.
Never ones to spurn the opportunity of a party, the EFW team decided to go in the away end. We had tickets for the home end but hey, minor detail. They let us in with no bother (nae bother pal). Inside the stadium and more good organisation. A Welsh choir struck up some rousing hymns including 'Flower of Scotland' which naturally brought the house down. Also, if I didn't know better, I'd say there appeared to be a huge red saucepan on the centre circle just before kick off. I'd love this confirmed if anyone is reading this and was at the match. What was all that about!?
Llanelli player manager Andy Legg once held the world record for a throw-in at 41 metres. Talking of world records, following the reds shock 1-0 win away at Motherwell (Airdrie actually but that's another story) last week, fans of the Steelmen may well have opened another category; Fed up with your own team in the first week of July.
The match itself mirrored that of the previous week save for one detail. Motherwell had their scoring boots on. Actually they had their scoring heads on. Despite the lush outfield, Well took the aerial route. John Sutton missed an early sitter with his nut but made up for it with two headers to put the away side two up at half time. Another header sealed a fairly comfortable away win in the second half. Jim O'Brien skipped down the line like a spring chicken and delivered a telling cross for grateful substitute Jamie Murphy, who with his first touch made it 0-3.
Motherwell fans responded to their teams efforts with 90 minutes worth of singing. "We are the Motherwell FC, we hate the Hearts and we hate Dundee, we will go wherever you may be, cause we are the boys of the MFC" I rather suspect Dundee find themselves in this song, purely because it rhymes quite nicely. I think they should exchange Dundee with Airdrie myself. They aren't liked too much by MFC and all importantly, it rhymes as well.
So what of Llanelli AFC!? I don't want to say plucky because nobody likes that. They were though. Nobody can take away the fact they beat Motherwell away. A result which will go down in their clubs history and the 51 reds fans who made that journey will have that memory with them forever. Despite being the butt of many jokes, Andy Mumford is a decent player (he nearly scored twice). The jokes came because Mumford is a bit beefy. I think they call it a beer belly, not that I'd know. Stuart Jones also looked a class act and good grace a higher level.
On reflection, it would have been much better for all concerned if UEFA had relaxed their all seater ruling for this match. The crowd of 3,025 could have all fitted into the Stebo and it may have made for a much better match. Anyway, Motherwell have now become European Football Weekends No.1 team of choice (thanks to their superbly hospitable and welcoming fans) and Llanelli and South Wales as a whole can be proud of staging a huge party. Nice one Cymru! Beth sydd yna i ddim hoffi!?