Things to do in Aberystwyth when you're dead
By Bruce Edhouse
There comes a time in every person's life when something happens to turn all
your plans into shite. Sometimes this is a good thing, as you end up with
better than you'd hoped for, and sometimes it's bad. Occasionally, it can be
This happened to me in June. I was planning to go to University and,
let's face it, wanted to get quite a long way away from Hemel Hempstead -
I'd lived there for 21 years, which is quite a long time when you bear in
mind that I'm 21 years old. I went through the pros and cons and settled
on applying to a college in Plymouth, as a) it looked like they were going
to be promoted last year and it looked like Watford would be relegated, so
I could at least see the Horns play while I was there; b) Errrr, nope, that
was the only reason.
(But if you think that's sad, I know a bloke who studied Chemistry
for 3 years at a poly in Manchester, just so he could be near Man Utd, even
though he hated Chemistry and probably wouldn't be able to get tickets for
any of the matches. Doh!)
I applied to do a Media Studies course, with Sociology, which I hate
doing but it went as a package - you can't just do Media Studies. But, to
cut a long story short, I got better exam results than I thought I would
and ended up phoning Aberyswyth on the off-chance I could get into their
brand new Film & TV Studies degree. And somehow got in.
Without a second thought, I accepted the place (it was, after all,
exactly what I'd been trying to get to study for the last 2 years) and it
was only in about the end of July I realised what I'd done. I had accepted a
place at a University THAT DIDN'T HAVE A LEAGUE FOOTBALL TEAM ANYWHERE EVEN
VAGUELY NEAR IT.
So, here I am. Starved of decent football, going to pubs to watch
matches and just ending up getting pissed instead, trying to motivate
myself to go and see the local side play but never getting round to it.
The local side, Aberystwyth Town FC, are a bit of a crappy club,
really. I think they currently reside at the bottom (or near it) of the
Konica League of Wales and there always seems to be the same headline on
the back page of the Cambrian Times - "Aber Boss Issues Ultimatum - 'Back Me
Or Sack Me!'" You know the score already. The club looks likely to end up at
the bottom of the table and the manager's going to say "Back Me Or Sack
Me!" once too often, probably around February.
And there seemed such optimism for the new season, after the club
announced that they had pulled off the transfer coup of the century - they'd
signed... wait for it... Mark Aizlewood! The last time I saw him was being
sent off along with 2 others for Bristol City at the Vic on the last day of
the season a few years ago...
But this really sums up the level of Welsh football. They have
highlights of the LOW on every Saturday, in the regional news on BBC1, and
you can count the number of supporters on one hand. Well, one finger, even.
I walked past the ground the other week and I saw the floodlights on. I
thought, "Aha! There must be a game starting soon." The crowd obviously
hadn't turned up yet. But it was 8:30. It must have started by now. So, I
looked through a gap in the gate, out of interest, and saw the players
playing, their shouts to each other as audible as those when you're playing
5-a-side, and there was the sight of a stand, which could hold about 600
people, empty apart from about 6 people. All sitting in completely different
bits of the stand.
What makes this even more... (I don't know how to describe it, but
it made it more so, anyway) was the fact that this was an important LOW Cup
match, second leg, which Aberystwyth won on the away goals rule after the
tie had finished 6-6.
The point I'm trying to make is this : I'm in an alien environment
here. I'm an outsider. Yes, there are other football fans here (amongst the
butch, close-cropped, close-harmony singing, lager-guzzling rugby fans) but
they're all supporters of big Premier League teams, who don't feel any loss
as they read about their teams in the papers every day, or Wolves fans, and
they don't really count as people. (Prejudiced? Me? Never!)
I can't bring myself to go to matches at the local ground, even
though it's only 10 minutes walk from my house, because they're just TOO
shit to pay money to see. But there is a vaguely silvery lining. Every
single time I go home to visit the family (they usually pay the train fare,
as I'm so skint), it just happens to co-incide, by chance of course, with a
Watford home match. Weird, that, eh?