Saturday 30th November 1991 Portmere vs. Newtown 14:10
In the past, we have always tried to go to the first few Portmere matches of each new season. We would arrive at these games with rekindled optimism and, sometimes, even buy programmes. This year, the team’s form was so bad that we hadn’t been to a single game until today. Dad had been ‘too busy’, Mum had had a series of afternoon teas (previously held on Fridays) and, to be completely honest, Declan and I couldn’t be bothered.
There is no doubt that we hadn’t played as badly for years. Dad said that Drew Milburn, our manager, who had been suffering from anxiety and severe panic attacks for the last 12 months was now clinically depressed. He sounded agitated when he spoke on the radio and, as the heavy defeats built up, there were hints of paranoia in his post-match interviews. Drew had had an awful start to the season. He had not managed to find substantial replacements for our two hefty and ruthless centre backs who had hung up their boots in the Summer. Then, in the middle of pre-season training, our entire midfield engine departed for Bethesda Athletic. They had been promised an extra £2.50 a week plus a £1 goal scoring bonus.
Our loyalty as supporters, which had been shaky for a while, evaporated. We probably wouldn’t have come to a game at all but there had been a relatively good result last week: our first goal in a 4:1 defeat against Caersws who were sixth in the league. There was also a rumour that we had signed an experienced attacking midfielder from Porthmadog but it seems as if this may have been a publicity stunt.
“What’s the point in having an attacking midfielder if you haven’t got a decent striker, anyway?” Declan had asked.
“God . . . it looks as if Reg Rowlands has put on another stone,” muttered Declan as the players came out. Reg was our right winger but looked more like a prop forward.
Newtown won the toss and decided to change ends. Our lads were horrified and, at first, looked as if they were going to refuse to move. By the time they had jogged over to the other side of the field and shuffled into position most of them were gasping for breath. Reg signalled to our manager that he was ready to come off but there were no substitutes so his request was ignored.
Declan and I settled back into our seats to enjoy the game.
By half time, we both wished we’d brought our homework.