Tuesday, 7 August 2007

The longest journey begins with a single match.

I must be more excited by a trip to Darlington than anyone has ever been! It marks the beginning of an annual odyssey, tramping round the country watching Wrexham. My Dad and I, the Don Quixote and Sancho Panza of North Wales (though I don't know which one's which!) have been setting off to tilt at lower division windmills for the best part of three decades now.

It's a quest which usually ends having taken us absolutely nowhere, sometimes ends in crushing failure, but occasionally, just occasionally, concludes in euphoric triumph.

Like when we traveled to Bury in 2003, knowing we were already up and that we'd beat them, which we did 3-0.

Or Northampton in 1993, when Gary Bennett earned promotion and thrust his head through the net in celebration, giving the massed throng of Wrexham fans behind the goal a clear view of one of the most iconic sights in the club's history.

It's an epic undertaking, and I don't use that adjective lightly. Consider this: the cumulative distance to each of the other teams in League Two and back from my house is 4,844 miles. To put that in perspective, if you travel due west from Wrexham for that distance you'll pass Ireland, cross the Atlantic, leave New York, Chicago and Seattle in your wake and end up in the Pacific Ocean!

And that's ignoring all the times we'll get lost! We once stopped for directions to Rotherham's ground to be told by a bemused local that we were in Sheffield!

Traveling around has a subsidiary benefit of giving you a nice sense of the country you live in, a sense of belonging. Name a major town in Wales or England and I'll probably be able to give you an opinion on the place.

Some places charm you with their quirks, although my opinion might be coloured by how well we've done there! For example, Luton might appear run-down to most, but I like the ramshackle charm of a ground with a press box named after Nick Owen which is so hemmed in by terraces that you enter the away end through a gap between two houses and have a view into someone's bathroom as you make your way in up the stairs! However, that might be linked to the fact that in quick succession I saw us stick five past their bewildered goalie (a certain Andy Dibble!) and then win 4-3 despite being 3-0 down at half time.

Similarly, Doncaster is a town which doesn't strike as being too thrilling, and I've never seen a decent game of football there!

Driving back, certain landmarks along the way tell me how close I am to home. An Indian restaurant in the middle of nowhere tells me I've half and hour to go; I know there's twenty miles to go when I pass the sign by Oswestry that says Tourist Information is in eight hundred metres. (By the way, in eight hundred metres is a post-it note saying “Keep going!”)

I didn't realise how itchy my feet were until I reflected on my reading matter for the last month. Bill Bryson's book on trekking the Appalachian Trail down the east coast of America is a classic tale of a pointless quest of heroic proportions, and sadly an awful lot of our treks have ended up pointless in more than one sense!

Another was a book by Lloyd Jones which glorifies a bizarre march around Wales embarked upon, essentially, for the sake of it.

So I've substituted meandering aimlessly round with reading about other people all Summer! Roll on Saturday when I can start doing it for real!

No comments:

Wrexham Calendar