Monday 18th January 2016 ko 20.00
SWANSEA CITY 1 (A Williams 27)
Entry (Premier Lounge), programme, teamsheet, and match badge – Complimentary
People can be very kind. GroundhopUK owner Chris Berezai had been offered two tickets to his home-town club, and quickly worked out that would be ideal for me to collect Bristol-based Robyn for her first ever Premier League game. Of course me being me, it turned out to be far more than either of us expected.
The unwritten rule of the complimentary ticket is that they are seldom anything other than excellent seats, they are usually for sponsors to impress clients, so a trip to the infamous toilets in the away end at the Swans’ old home at the Vetch Field was unlikely to be on the agenda! What I didn’t expect was hospitality, Robyn had gone to buy two programmes while I collected our tickets from the office, and received a lumpy envelope!
The lumps were of course the match badge and access lanyards, and from then on the the easy competence of of back-stage luxury took over. It may be far removed from the footballing experience I seek out but I have learned how it works and I do appreciate it for what it is. And in the final analysis a seat behind the away dug outs should never be sniffed at. It was slightly unworldly to watch a steady succession of people spot Swans’ newly appointed manager Francesco Guidolin in the directors’ box and go up and shake his hand.
Yes, it was luxurious, and Robyn could watch her first Premier League in comfort and safety but I felt slightly divorced from it all. The quality of passing and movement was superb even if the goal did come from that most British of routes, a cross to a centre half to head home.
I suppose I’m spoiled, I like to hear the players shout, and smell the liniment but even in the rarefied atmosphere of the Premier League the game is still about two sets of eleven players each trying to score more goals than the other. It’s the same story wherever you go, and whatever your involvement with the game you should never forget that.