Celebrate the present!
26th December 2015
I, like many people of a certain age, have an unfortunate habit of proclaiming "ah, things were better in my day".
With my 50th birthday approaching next year, I have to admit, I'm not exactly sure when "my day" was.
But generally, I usually argue that the period between the mid-Seventies and early-Eighties were the best for just about everything.
Music, TV, sport . . . even the weather seemed to be much better and exciting back then. As far as I am concerned these were the halcyon days.
I'm sure it must get hugely irritating for all those people below that "certain age" when people like me don the rose tinted glasses (as well as the bi-focals) and look back at the past with a tear in our eye . . . usually caused by the glaucoma drops.
Anyway. Enough is enough. I've decided to celebrate what's good about the present day, rather than the past.
There are some aspects of football from those days which I will always prefer, but even people like me have to concede that in some areas of the game, we have never had it so good.
Perhaps the biggest obvious improvement is in stadiums. As much as I loved the old Vetch there are some aspects of the old ground, and many others like it, that I am quite frankly delighted to see the back of.
It so much nicer, not to mention safer, to be able to walk comfortably from your seat at the end of the game rather than being lifted from your feet on the old North Bank and carried towards the nearest exit, barely able to inhale because of the huge crush as thousands of people squeezing through four exits.
On the subject of safety, hasn't it been brilliant in recent years to see opposition fans walking side by side outside the Liberty without running battles regularly breaking out. I know hooliganism hasn't been totally eradicated from the game, but we've come a long way from the Seventies.
Facilities inside the grounds have improved immeasurably. Isn't it so much easier pouring sugar into your coffee in a dry warm concourse, rather than trying to extricate sticky, solidifying sugar from a soggy sachet as the wind whistled rain horizontally across the back of the North Bank?
Talking of rain, remember what the great British weather used to do to pitches? If you don't, just tap in 1970s and take a quick browse through YouTube. You'll be amazed at the cabbage patches the likes of George Best used to weave their magic on during the deep mid-winter.
Wembley used to be held up as the perfect pitch in the Seventies, but there were times during the winter when it wouldn't have been able to match some non-league pitches today.
I still find it hard to believe the quality of the Liberty Stadium pitch when you consider the wet South Wales weather and the fact it is used every other week by the Ospreys.
Boring winter Saturday afternoons when the football's been called off have pretty much become a thing of the past thanks to modern pitches and undersoil heating.
Did I say Saturday afternoons? I'm showing my age again. Today, matches are played on pretty much every day of the week and at a whole variety of times.
Although this can be inconvenient for travelling fans, it does mean you never need to go more than a couple of days before you can watch some live football on the television.
That's a massive difference to "my day" when live football on the TV was limited to The FA Cup Final, the European Cup Final and a handful of international matches in between World Cup years.
In fact, general media coverage has developed immeasurably from the days when you were lucky to get crackling radio coverage of Swans matches which sounded like the commentary was coming from Prague rather than Preston.
Mind you, drive through the Amman Valley and there are still places where radio commentary can still sound like that.
Even if you can't tune into the radio, updates and results are never more than a couple of clicks away on your laptop or phone.
It's hard to believe now that I had to wait until the following morning to find out the result of the Wales v Iceland World Cup qualifier at the Vetch in 1981. Because of the floodlight failure causing a delay in the second half, I had to leave before the end to catch the last bus home.
It wasn't until the morning's radio bulletins that I found out the match had ended in a 2-2 draw. How times have changed. These days it's almost impossible to avoid results if you plan to watch a match on TV without knowing the score.
And as we approach a new year, who knows what improvements to the beautiful game will be in store in future?
Come on you Swans!