Wales on the march

There were tremendous results for Welsh clubs in European competitions last week. The New Saints thrashed Bohemian 4-0 to go through to the 3rd qualifying round of the Champions’ League 4-1 on aggregate. The Irish club’s fans did not take defeat by a Welsh club at all well – see www.thebohs.com/forum for many examples of vicious, coarse and embittered anti-Welsh sentiment from our Celtic cousins. This does not surprise me: the Republic of Ireland has never shown any sympathy for Wales, partly because the Roman Catholic church that tells the population what to think doesn’t recognise Wales as an entity, and partly because Eire is a nasty, money-grubbing, right-wing statelet completely at odds with the inherent communitarian and socialist tendencies of Wales. Now that their whoring ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy has predictably imploded, Irish jealousy of Wales’s limitless possibilities and untainted principles has been uncorked, and how ugly and shameful it is. Note to citizens of a future independent Wales: DO NOT FOLLOW THE IRISH EXAMPLE.

So, at the 12th time of asking, TNS at last get through a European round. Their reward is a plum tie against Anderlecht of Belgium, 30 times Belgian champions and five times winners of European trophies. The first leg is tonight at Wrexham, the second leg next week in Brussels – naturally neither will feature on UK television or radio. The thought of a 250-mile round trip to Clwyd, plus the fact that, to quote Sarah Ferguson, I haven’t got a pot to piss in, means I can’t make it up to Wrexham. I will have to rely on my TNS contacts to keep me informed of developments by text messages. It would be a miracle if TNS got any sort of result against these European aristocrats, but they are guaranteed entry to the 1st round proper of the Europa Cup even if eliminated. This will give this extraordinary club a revenue windfall that will tighten their grip on the Welsh Premier in the forthcoming league season.

As for Bangor City, after their excellent 1-1 draw in Finland they completed the job with a thrilling 2-1 win at Wrexham Racecourse over Honka Espoo, both goals coming in the last few minutes (see www.welsh-premier.com for brief highlights). This was Bangor’s first European win since their incredible 2-0 defeat of Napoli in the old Cup Winners’ Cup in 1962. On Thursday they face Maritimo of Portugal in the Europa Cup 3rd qualifying round, the 1st leg away in Funchal on the island of Madeira. The Citizens should have no chance against a full-time outfit packed with Portugese internationals and talented Brazilians. I always expect the worst, to protect myself against disappointment, but whatever happens these TNS and Bangor wins have already done wonders for Wales’ ranking in the UEFA coefficient tables. Ranked 46th out of 53 before the season began, Wales should now rise to at least 41st even if TNS and Bangor go no further – a huge over-achievement considering the Welsh Premier is the most impoverished league in Europe and the only league handicapped by six of its clubs playing in another country’s pyramid. Imagine what would be possible if those six clubs worked for the best interests of Wales instead of cowering pathetically behind mummy England’s petticoats!