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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Tue, 16 Aug 22 : 08:25 :  refresh for updates

    To read all last season blog posts scroll through posts on the young guns page

    Little did I realize when hearing “When I’m sixty-four”, one of the many Beatles classics of the sixties, the significance of the number inferred in the song. That many years was a long wait, from having a memory of a Wales team participating in the World Cup finals, to when the next one would arrive. There certainly have been a couple of very disappointing circumstances in the intervening years, where the door seemed ajar and a passage through it available, only for it to be cruelly slammed and firmly locked, as entry was barred.

    There were some other occasions when the qualification picture was showing signs of having a rosy tint in it, only for colour to fade before full blooming could be witnessed. Now, there are still a few months of waiting for the process to be completed, but enjoyment can be eagerly anticipated, and I offer a congratulatory salute as well as a personal “thank you” to the team and all associated with it, for their well deserved achievement.

    That summer of 1958 was a time when much was different from the present. Amongst them, the World Cup finals, though admired by those in the football community, was not the spectacle it has developed into during those subsequent decades. The TV set was only a few months old in our home. Though starting to become more commonplace at that time, there were still a great many households where the main form of entertainment and news was still accessed on the radio. I am stretching my memory cells to close to their limit, to recall that I believe the only match transmitted live, was the final match.

    It was played on a Sunday afternoon, clashing with the time of Sunday school sessions and there was no option in those days as to what was considered more important, no matter how much I begged to be excused. I did manage to get home in time for some final minutes of the game, although any question as to who were to be champions was long settled by that time. I think I am correct that I did see some recorded highlights and short clips of other games on the news, but much of that was available late enough in the evening to be past that mandatory bedtime deadline, which generally was non-negotiable and particularly so on school days. I did get to read some amount about it and felt proud of the Wales team.

    Their path to being included as one of the sixteen finalists had been a somewhat circuitous and fortuitous route, but they had performed admirably and more than justified their inclusion amongst the best national teams in the world. Rightly so, it was a very good team, containing players very capable of good performances against opposition regarded as having numerous elite players at their disposal. Of course, Wales did have “Il Gigante Buono”, John Charles, who was included in that category, supported by some other very good players in the squad. Just to finish off my reminiscing. My thoughts were prompted to include a hope to play for Wales in one of those future competitions. More than a hope really, as I believed at that time, but what ten year old football mad boy, didn’t allow his mind to wander into such a fanciful future achievement.

    A lot of water has flowed under the bridge in the meantime, an ambition never remotely close to being fulfilled, but I was lucky to have managed to play football, in much lesser circumstances of course, for quite a few decades, enjoyed the experience immensely and even had a fleeting connection with World Cup history as a part of the pleasure it gave me. Even though I am obviously quite obsessed with football statistics, have been since a time before those summer of 1958 days, playing the game was even more important and I tried to do it for as long as I possibly could. Also, life in general has been extremely kind to me and I have been privileged to be associated with some wonderful people along the way.

    As Wales fans, we have had some pleasurable times lately, participation and success in the Euro’s, certainly firmly set in those valued memories. Can we have repeat occasions in November and December 2022? I believe that it is possible, even though the obstacles that could prevent it are very evident from the start of the competition. Group B is the one that has the highest average FIFA rankings, a system not to everybody’s liking, but one that no alternative can be suggested as a better option. The team will need to produce good performances, which they are very well equipped to do so, in order to have us excited once more. What is also very encouraging, is that the ten year old fans of the present, are unlikely to have to wait the length of time myself and my peers have endured to arrive at this scenario.

    After taking a couple of months break from the time club football came to an end last season, here I am back once more as a new one beckons. Once again, my intention will be to provide a weekly blog discussing the Welsh young guns. As has been the case in recent years, it will reflect an optimistic opinion of how Welsh football may develop as we move into the future. It does seem to have the potential of being a period when “The Red Wall” will be singing joyfully and vociferously as they witness many more positive occasions along the way. The squad at present, is an ideally balanced mix of youth and experience with the depth of viable candidates for team selection greatly surpassing any comparison with the past.

    The youthful part is also displaying a capability of becoming the focal point of the team when required and there are positive signs that the squad will be supplemented with quality replacements when necessary. As I move along during the weeks of the season, their candidacy will become apparent. Of course, this will be my perception of future events and an opinion that I must concede relies on an access to limited information. I do hope to produce a dialogue that you will at least feel is reasonably worthwhile the time you invest in reading. I welcome critique and suggestions for improvement and am always extremely grateful for any assistance forthcoming.

    Please excuse my digression, into what many of you will regard as the distant past, for the opening paragraphs of this presentation. I’m sure it is a case of my recollections being far more poignant from my perspective than any interest in it from elsewhere, but thought it was something I would like to share. To finish off I will refer to something that is much closer to the present. June 5th is a day that I am equally unlikely to forget. As the time for the day to arrive progressed through to its delayed occurrence, I tried to rationalize my feelings. It became a mix of increasingly nervous anticipation and some brazen assertions of success in equal measure.

    The time arrived, and after being inspired by a choral output of “Yma o hyd” and “Hen Wlad fy Nhadau” my confidence was boosted, but then challenged as the game progressed. The goal was an immense help in providing me some sort of calmness, though it was interspersed with mental referrals of “We surely can’t be denied again. Can we?”, particularly so as those waning minutes were played. The final whistle arrived, and my emotions were a scrambled mess. Elation, pride and a feeling I should shout a guttural celebratory scream at the TV screen were obviously amongst them, but also there was quiet reflection and a thankful realization that the long awaited moment had arrived.

    It was such a mix, that, although it was on the brink of developing, I couldn’t even produce a tearful outpouring of relief. About all I could muster was to walk about the house in a slight daze, my chest leading the way and a feeling of Welshness as big as any time in the past. I think I’ve rambled on enough. Until next time.

    page posted  Tue, 16 Aug 22 :08:25 : refresh for updates

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]
    Posted: Tuesday 16th August 2022
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