After winning last season’s FAW trophy, I received a phone call inviting Holywell Town FC to attend the Wales v Switzerland international football game at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. Not only were we invited to attend the game, but we also received the honour of parading the trophy around the pitch at half time, along with Swansea City Ladies who had won the FAW Women’s Cup
The club then set about seeing if anyone was interested and the response was good we set about organising the trip down to South Wales. Rooms were booked in the City and Friday the 7th couldn’t come soon enough for the party that was travelling down.
The morning of the match came and we were all ready for the day ahead. The trophy was polished, the training sweatshirts were washed and our tickets and pitch side lanyards were packed.
The journey down from North Wales for myself and my wife seemed to take ages. When we eventually arrived, we parked in the Stadium car park and made our way over to the turnstiles. The steward on the turnstile asked to see what was in the bag and my response of “It’s the FAW Trophy” was not what he expected, so after he had asked to take a look as he had only seen pictures of it, we made our way into the stadium and to our seats where we were greeted by the FAW representative who told me of the order of events of the evening. Our seats were front row, just to the right of the Welsh Dug Out and we couldn’t complain about the view!
Once the others had arrived a few minutes later, I told them what would be happening. We stood to take photos and get a few autographs from the players who were on the pitch warming up before the anthems.
The game kicked off and despite a few chances by both teams, the score remained goalless and then it was time for Holywell Town to be the centre of attention on the pitch. The surface was excellent (seeing as though 45 minutes of football had just been played) and was a credit to the Liberty Stadium Ground staff .
We walked onto the pitch to be greeted by Mr Phil Pritchard, the President of the Welsh FA and were asked to stand with him for a photo. Captain Gareth Thomas was then presented with the FAW Trophy Winners Pennant before a couple more photos and then we were told to do a lap of honour around the pitch! At first, it took a while for it to sink in what we were doing, but once we had the first cheer and applause from the fans, we then waved and were showing the Trophy off to the Supporters. It was a great moment and other than winning the Trophy last season, it was my proudest moment since being a part of Holywell Town FC.
We then got to the ‘away’ end and we were greeted by a loud round of applause by the Swiss fans. It was unbelievable and even though they didn’t know the history of the competition, they cheered as if we were the Swiss League Champions and the sight of the flags being waved and the loud cheer will stay with me for a long time. Thank you Swiss Fans for adding to the occasion.
Even more applause from the Welsh fans and we were really enjoying ourselves by now, so much so we were asked by the Liberty Stadium Stewards to hurry up as the teams will be back out on the pitch before long! We were milking the occasion and no one wanted the lap of honour to end. It was great to see the crowds reactions and most of them would not have known that in the final we were two goals down entering the last few minutes before scoring three late, late goals to seal the victory!
We finally got back to the tunnel area and walked off the pitch and we were greeted by FAW representatives who shook our hands as we walked off. I asked jokingly if we could do it again and he laughed and said we can if we win the Trophy again this season!
We got back to our seats and took in what had just happened. It was a great experience and everyone who was a part of the big day will agree that it was things that dreams are made of. Not many people can say they have paraded a Trophy on the pitch of a Welsh International match in front of over 12,000 spectators, and I am so proud to be able to say that I have! I still can’t get over the feeling of being on the pitch to this day, and driving home gave me time to reflect on the evening, in particular the players response and reactions to the applause, the Swiss fans for their loud cheer, walking out in front of over 12,000 supporters and being asked to hurry up off the pitch as the teams were due back any minute! One thing is for sure, I hope I get to sample the experience again in the near future……best make sure we win the FAW Trophy again this season!
On behalf of Holywell Town Football Club, may I thank the FA of Wales for their hospitality on the evening in making it a night to remember for all who were at Swansea that evening.
Steve Roberts - Secretary
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