Jack the Lad: Whatever happened in the match?

10th January 2018

Loyal Swans supporter and website columnist Jack the Lad remembers the days when it was a struggle to find his team's result - and hopes for good news from Newcastle this weekend.

Confined to my sofa by the nasty flu-like cold which was doing the rounds over Christmas, I was only able to summon the strength to pick up a turkey sandwich and the TV remote.

Flicking through the channels, I happened upon a television gem in the shape of the Likely Lads feature film.

This was a big screen version of the hugely successful 1960 and 1970s television series set in Newcastle, following the adventures of Terry and Bob, a pair of Tyneside characters with a love of football, beer and women.

The film certainly did the trick in raising my flagging festive spirits as it was every bit as funny as the original TV programme had been.

With this Saturday’s match against Newcastle on the horizon, watching the film reminded me of the classic Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads episode where our heroes are trying to avoid the result of an afternoon England international match so it won’t spoil their enjoyment of watching the match highlights that evening.

There’s the added incentive of winning a £10 bet waged with one of their mates, Flint, who is determined to foil their efforts to avoid the score.

At one point they even take refuge in a church to stay away from newspaper vendors, news reports and Flint.

Can you imagine the added challenges they would face in today’s hi-tech world of instant media reports?

Goal alerts to your phone, social media, the internet, 24-hour sports channels on TV and radio – the availability of sports news and updates is almost endless.

Back then, it was a reasonably straightforward task. Stay away from TV and radio reports – which were few and far between in the days before 24-hour news – and vindictive friends and you were home and dry.

In fact, it was sometimes harder to find out a result than it was to avoid it.

When I was 14, I was at the fateful Wales v Iceland match at the Vetch in 1981, when a win for the home side would all but secure their place at the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain.

Due to a lengthy delay in play caused by a floodlight failure, I had to leave the match early in the second half in order to catch the last service bus home.

As my friends and I left the ground Wales, who had been firm favourites to win the game comfortably, were holding on to a slender 2-1 lead thanks to goals by Robbie James and Alan Curtis.

With common use of mobile phones still some way off, we had to endure a tortuous hour-long journey home before finding out whether Wales were World Cup-bound.

At each stop we hoped for a passenger who knew the score to jump on to the bus, but none came.

When we eventually learned the result, it was bad news. Iceland had equalised to make the final score 2-2 and Wales’ hopes were effectively over.

Can you imagine a teenager today having to endure such an agonising wait to find out their team's fate?

If you’re not able to be at St James’ Park on Saturday, I’m sure you won’t have too many problems finding out the score. If you’re planning on holding out until Match of the Day, good luck!

Whenever you find out the final score, and by whatever method, let’s hope it will put a smile on your face, even if you hear it earlier than you’d hoped.

C’mon you Swans!