Tuesday, July 02, 2019

2018-19 Football Season Review - breaking records again

I feel embarrassed that I'm only publishing my 2018-19 review after my 2019-20 season has already started, thanks to Barry Town's appearance in the Europa League Preliminary Round on 27 June!

Last season I went to 30 matches and made much of that in my season review. But I went between 16.6% and 20% better this year, depending on whether we count the 15 minutes of an abandoned match as a game. I've been told that if you've turned up, paid for your ticket and seen the game kick off then it counts, although the goal that was scored doesn't officially count for anything. What an anomaly.

So, let's say it was 36 matches. As per previous seasons, here are the overall stats:
Season: 2018-19
Total games: 36 (includes one game abandoned after 15 minutes)
Most goals in a game: 7
Fewest goals in a game: 0
Total goals seen: 104
Number of football grounds visited: 12 (2 of which I’d never visited before)

So, what games did I go to?

15 of the games I saw featured Barry Town. I went to 12 at Jenner Park, two away games and the Welsh Cup Semi-final at Latham Park in Newtown.

Jenner Park - a magical place

All the way to Connah's Quay

Semi-final line ups

I loved following Barry this season. It's friendly, affordable football at a better standard than most people expect. They also have brilliant programme covers.

Barry's season went beyond expectations as they finished third and qualified for the Europa League. At the end of the Welsh Premier League first phase they were topping the table.

The team I saw the next most often were Cardiff City. My friend Sara is still trying to convert me. I saw City 8 times last season, including an away game at Arsenal. That worked out because I had a meeting in London that day and I saved £88.50 coming home on the supporters coach instead of getting a return train ticket. I should have put my match ticket on expenses really as my employer would still have been in pocket. But I didn't.

I love The Emirates as a stadium. I was very tempted to buy Cathy a Gunnersaurus Rex.

I think this is the first time Sara has featured on my blog. (It's also her photo)

Cardiff had a tough season, a long drawn-out relegation scrap limited their Premier League sojourn to a year. Given the hype there is some desperate football played in the Premier League. Newcastle United were abject in the extreme, and with Cardiff served up my only 0-0 of the year.

Talking of abject, desperate football, Shrewsbury had a really disappointing season with several weeks in the relegation zone. I saw one game under manager John Askey, and they won. I saw 4 games under Askey's replacement, Sam Ricketts, and it was a real mixed bag. A good away draw in Bristol (as part of my failed attempt at a 'twofer'), a lucky home win against Wycombe, and a couple of pathetic losses.

I did get some photos of the Shrewsbury mascots having a dance off, though.

I also made it to three Newport County games, including their fabulous, famous win over Leicester City. Beforehand Spytty the Dog didn't look very optimistic.

Newport had a decent fist of a season with a cup run and a play-off final. I saw them three times and they won all three games. Shame I didn't make the effort to go to the play-off final, really.

And then there are the other games, that get collected up in the "randoms". My first game of the season was The New Saints versus Midtjylland of Denmark in a European game held at Cardiff City Stadium. I also went to see my friend Ben play for Goytre AFC, except at the last moment he was benched, which was disappointing for both of us. I saw Wales get beaten by Denmark in the UEFA Nation's League.

And then in January I went to see Telford versus Kidderminister Harriers in a game that has taken on poignant significance for me. It turned out to be the last game I went to see with my Dad before his unexpected death a few weeks later. Now I have mixed feelings seeing pictures of Benny the Buck.

Funny story. We'd parked up and were walking round to the turnstiles at the Buck's Head. As he always did, Dad felt the need to talk to anyone we met on the way and explain who we were and why we were there, so he loudly told a Telford fan that "Really, we're Shrewsbury fans, but we've just come over to watch the game..." He saw no reason at all why telling people we were fans of their local rivals could have been a problematic announcement to make. Bless 'im.

And then I finished the season with a rare June game. Wales women against New Zealand women at the Cardiff Athletics Stadium across the road from the Cardiff City Stadium. New Zealand had qualified for the World Cup and this was a warm up game for them. Wales won with a very late goal, having saved a penalty in the first half.

I really enjoyed going to the Women's international and it was a great way to round out the season.

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