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No Saintly intervention for the Swans

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By Jonathan Twigg

KEEPERS of the faith or a question when football rivalry becomes a ‘Holy War’ where your life depends on it.

Kevin Johns MBE, a pillar of Swansea City, spoke of martyrdom before defeat by Southampton, on Tuesday (May 8). Saint Mary, a team from the Church Young Men’s Association of 1885 born the banks of the ‘Itchen’ currently managed by ‘Welshmen’ Mark Hughes. A eulogy which encapsulates Peter Rodrigues, 1976 cup winning captain and the towering Paul Jones in goal; best of all from the pearly gates, none other than Gareth Bale.

Many thought godly intervention occurred with the appointment of Carlos Carvalhal prior to Christmas, divine intervention immediate, but the current situation, no goals and no points stretching back a month.

Wales and football have always had a heavenly ring when it comes to looking for signs but compare Scotland, Rangers vs Celtic for a view on how religion and sport cannot be separated. After Tuesday evening, a hope for a shared appreciation with Cardiff City in the Premier League once more, now hangs by a thread.

There was no cross carrying to the altar on this occasion, 20,000 white flag bearing emblems whipping the pilgrims to a frenzy. Andrew and Jordan Ayew the early disciples, Ki Sung-Yueng strong like St Barnabas, allowing Andy King having space to go for goal.

Luigi Scrosoppi (1804-84) the patron saint of footballers extended his care to all players but maybe, just maybe he had an inkling of companionship with George not David for the night. He was a battler against the strong anti-clerical feeling in Italy to bring hope and comfort to the poor; boy did Luigi, the son of a jeweller know when to kick sand.

The business of global football is humungous, still growing, the Premier League of course the place to be. Thursday, June 14, the start of the 2018 World Cup wouldn’t be able to match the energy of the Liberty Stadium, viral electricity in the form of a ‘berating Sparky’.

Kevin Johns’ reverence a catalyst for a chapel just off the players tunnel, encapsulating the imagery of ‘Camp Nou’? Peering back a replica of the Virgin of Montserrat, Catalonia’s most famous religious icon and its patron saint, with Baby Jesus on her lap exchange for St David, proudly inhaling a full choral rendition of ‘Land of my Fathers’. The Swans held sway, thirty minutes of football to their advantage, but no goal, Fabianski, the ‘big pole in the goal’ a saviour from Charlie Austin; twice.

One part of the epiphany, patron saint of the lottery, ‘Pantaleon’ although the Swansea players inspired by Saint Sebastian, extremely fit and able to withstand long physical endurance. Praying didn’t win the crunch game, when it mattered.

the ‘Jack Army’ a congregation of little ill repute registering the pressure, heading every ball, drumming pace and trickery. Sam Clucas saw his header slide across the face of the Alex McCarthy’s goal, the throng now not committed to the Sunday service Kevin asked of in his prayer.

The second half tension, flaring tempers and Jordan Ayew off like the clappers in tune with the stand, Austin chance after chance, enter Tammy Abraham, a tactical change replacing wing back Martin Olsson, Kyle McNaughton flying as Tammy called the tune, Jan Bednarek flattened by his own goal keeper, left to take a seat on the pews, Abraham cranked up the crescendo before substitute Manolo Gabbiadini broke the deadlock and the spirit.

Narsingh came on for McNaughton in the final quarter, Tom Carroll for King, Ki wasteful with Michael Oliver awarding six minutes of extra time, Abraham close before the emotion drained away.

The singing voices now clearly ‘the saints come marching in’ reminding us of St. Jude Thaddeus, cousin of Jesus and one of his Twelve Apostles, the patron saint of hopeless, desperate situations and lost, impossible, or forgotten causes. Read, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Kevin Johns, a Swan through and through and hope reigns eternal, perhaps with some ‘Hail Mary’s’ church bells will continue to ring loudly across West Wales.

Sport

Goodwick bow out of West Wales Cup

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GOODWICK United bowed out of the West Wales Cup as they were beaten 1-0 by South Gower on Saturday (Dec 4).

The West Wales Premier League side travelled to Pembrokeshire on the back of four straight wins, including their 21-0 demolition of Hendy in the second round of the competition.

This time though they came up against a Goodwick United who were yet to taste defeat this season.

The only goal of the game came sixteen minutes in as Ieuan Priede headed South Gower ahead.

Goodwick had a number of chances throughout the game but were unable to find an equaliser.

Nathan Greene and Johnny Horgan were both brought on to try and change the outcome but their opponents held on to book their place in the next round.

On Saturday, December 11, Goodwick return to Division 1 action with a trip to St Ishmaels.

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Sport

Carew go through in extra time

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CAREW needed extra time to beat Tumble to book their place in the next round of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Dec 4).

Shaun Whitfield had put Carew ahead at the end of first half stoppage time but just four minutes into the second half, Trystan Leech pulled Tumble level.

Jordan Richards then scored Carew’s second to put them back ahead and Whitfield’s second goal looked to have sealed the visitors’ passage into the last sixteen.

However, Leech grabbed his second five minutes from time to give the home side hope of forcing the game into extra time.

And Leech completed his hat trick in the 92nd minute to make it 3-3 and to ensure the teams would be playing another 30 minutes.

In the first period of extra time it was Carew who got the goal to put them back in the lead with Harvey Langston scoring.

Tumble were unable to find a way back this time and Joe Williams’ goal two minutes from the end secured the win for the Rooks.

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Sport

Narberth seconds earn bonus point win over Aber

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NARBERTH seconds (also known as Narberth Athletic) travelled to Aberystwyth as they looked to leapfrog Newcastle Emlyn at the top of the West Wales Conference League.

There was a gale blowing straight down the pitch from the clubhouse, which made attractive rugby difficult in such cold weather conditions.

Narberth lost the toss and played with the wind. They put the home side under pressure for most of the first period using the elements to their advantage and scored two good tries through scrum half Jordan James and livewire flanker Dylan Walsh and, converted by Shane Rossiter but was a 12 point advantage enough going into the second half?

Narberth coach James Merriman sent on two heavyweight replacements at half time in Daf Walters and Jac Norcross to help carry the ball against the elements.

The tactics worked superbly with Walters rumbling over for two tries and centre Ryan Scourfield rounding off a tremendous second half performance for the young Otters going over under the posts to put the score beyond doubt and an excellent bonus point win.

After the game and changing out of their playing strip, the boys then put on their Santa outfits for the Christmas social and long drive home.

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