Jack the Lad: Sparky, Spain and my TV

10th October 2018

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad is hoping for another special Spanish moment - but insists he won't be going anywhere near the television.

Fortunately the television I landed on was one of the sturdy types from the 1970s.

It was the kind that took two Rediffusion men in brown overalls to deliver and gave off the whiff of burning dust as the valves inside heated up when you turned it on.

Had it been one of the ultra slim, ultra flat, ultra lightweight TVs of today, it would probably have ended up in pieces on the living room floor.

What was the reason for me landing on our family television all those years ago?

Well, it was Mark Hughes' wonder goal for Wales against Spain in a World Cup qualifier at The Racecourse in Wrexham back in 1985.

It was a goal like no other we had seen back then. Today it would be described as a worldy.

As the ball bounced up on the edge of the visitors' penalty area, Hughes launched himself into the air, contorting his body until he was parallel to the ground before unleashing a stunning scissor-kick.

His right foot met the ball at almost head height and propelled it at speed beyond the reach of Spain's world-class keeper Luis Arconada.

As the ball tore into the roof of the Spanish net, I spontaneously took off from my sofa and probably spent more time in the air than Hughes, before landing with my chest against the TV screen and my arms wrapped around it's ample frame, trying my best not to topple it and me over onto the floor.

What a goal! The kind where it is impossible to sit impassively, even if you are nearly more than 100 miles away sitting in the comfort of your living room.

And especially if it's a goal that puts your country two up on the way to a 3-0 victory against a top-quality international side.

That goal helped earn Hughes a headline-grabbing move to Spanish giants Barcelona.

Since then, of course, there have been a number of links between Wales and Spain, the latest being Gareth Bale's starring role for Real Madrid and the two nations' mouthwatering friendly clash at the Principality Stadium on Thursday evening.

In between, of course, the Swans have forged a particularly close connection with Spain.

It all kicked off with Roberto Martinez, the man who helped save the Swans from relegation out of the Football League on the pitch and triggered their rise to the Premier League off it.

Martinez strengthened the Swans' Spanish connection by signing the ‘Three Amigos’ – Guillem Bauza, Andrea Orlandi and club legend Angel Rangel, who received such a heartwarming welcome back to the Liberty recently.

Since then, there has been a steady stream of Spanish talent arriving in Swansea.

In fact, it would be possible to put together a squad of Swansea's Spanish signings.

Jordi Gomez, Gorka Pintado, Michu, Pablo Hernandez, Chico Flores, Jordi Amat, to name just a few.

Although there isn't quite the Spanish flavour there once was at the club, we still have Borja on the books, albeit out on loan, and Jordi Govea, who arrived from Real Madrid.

Despite the links we have built up with Spain over the years, if Wales manage to repeat the 1985 result against the former European and World champions on Thursday night, I'll be up out of my seat once again, particularly if our own Connor Roberts or late call-up Joe Rodon get on the scoresheet.

However, being 33 years older than I was back then, I don't think there will be any TV screens at risk this time around!

C'mon Wales!