So 2014 is all but over and for me personally it has been one of the best in the 28 years of me being on this Earth (Yes I am 28). The obvious highlight was being in Brazil for the whole 6 weeks of the World Cup (Yes I know you all got fed up of me posting about it back in June and July). But I can’t see myself ever topping that type of trip in my whole life, so it’s always nice to reminisce. Some people hated my constant pictures and blogs but others told me personally the loved it, so can’t please everyone.
On the football front, the Swans said thank you and goodbye to Michael Laudrup and less than a week later we beat Cardiff 3-0 in Garry Monk’s first game in charge. As well as giving a very good account of ourselves against Napoli over two legs. I do miss our European tours though.
We stayed up in the end, but it was looking pretty bit close at one point, despite what others may say. Personally the win away at Newcastle (4 games from the end of the season) was the game that confirmed our safety for me. This season we have all but secured Premier League football for the 2015/16 season, and have had great wins against Man Utd and Arsenal already.
Made it to Napoli in the end! (19 minutes late)
It has been nice to see Wales playing well again and seeing the togetherness of the players, hopefully this will continue into 2015. Wales played 4 times in 2014 and didn’t lose, the 0-0 draw in Belgium being the standout performance and result. The win away in Andorra was welcome and came in dramatic fashion. Viva Gareth Bale.
Andorra and the impressive floodlights of the much talked about stadium
I went to 72 matches (yes I counted) at 30 different stadia (yes I counted) in 8 different countries (you get the idea). So to pick my favourite one is difficult, from a Swans perspective, seeing two wins at Old Trafford was great, as was the home win against Arsenal this season. Obviously the home win over Cardiff back in February has to be mentioned. My favourite Swans goal of the year has to be Jonjo Shelvey’s half volley from 40 yards against Aston Villa – but now everyone hates him, so don’t hate me please.
Regarding the ‘neutral’ games I went to and without wanting to sound like a broken record, the World Cup was great. I was very lucky and thankful that I managed to go to nine games in total, including the opening game, the 7-1 semi final match between Germany and Brazil and the Final itself – if you have forgotten you can read about my exploits here: https://awelshmanattheworldcup.wordpress.com/
The impressive Iguazu Falls
Aside from the football, the travelling around the country and meeting so many people from so many different countries was also another great part, Rio de Janeiro was probably my favourite city out of all that I visited as there was so much to see and do. I felt safe all the time I was there, considering all the scaremongering that was going on before hand – similar to what was said before Swansea’s trip to Naples, which seemed to put people off. A shame really.
A Welshman at a World Cup Final (Germany 1-0 Argentina, Maracana)
I also managed to tick off 3 ‘new’ grounds in the 92 this year (Morecambe, Chesterfield and Stevenage), so I now have just 83 remaining, I plan to tick off a few more this season, though how I’m going to get to Colchester cheaply I have no idea yet…….
I also went to my first ever Champions League match – PSG v Ajax – and what a great experience it was, I didn’t have time to write about it in full and the moment has sort of gone now, but I have always wanted to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic play as well as visit Paris. So it was a great chance to combine the two. Luckily for me, Ibrahimovic did score in the game that PSG won 3-1.
Just like Blackpool Tower
I was in with all the nutters, but it was a great atmosphere and would recommend visiting the Parc des Princes, it was very noticeable to see the difference in the standard of football from the Premier League, everything is done at such a quicker pace with every single player comfortable on the ball. Paris was a very nice city too, even if there were too many beggars around for my liking.
So what’s in store for me in 2015 I hear you ask? (Ok I pretended to hear you ask). Well there are away trips with Wales to Israel, Cyprus and Bosnia-Herzegovina, which I plan to go to all of them (I want to say I was there when Wales qualifield/failed to qualify again). Many will be put off by Israel, but it’s supposed to be a great place and I may not get to see another chance to see Itay Shechter play.
Wales still also have a great chance of qualifying for a major tournament, so fans are in an unusual situation of actually being worried about the game (The trip alone is usually the main highlight).
Also in 2015 I am going to Kiev as I’d like to visit Chernobyl and in the summer I am off to South Korea, China and North Korea – yes you read that correctly. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, North Korea (or Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as they prefer to be called) has always fascinated me, I can’t really explain why, but it does.
Pyongyang, North Korea
So I thought why not go and experience it for myself? Some people are ignorant to the fact that tourists can visit there relatively easily through an organised tour, which no hairstyle restrictions. It should be an interesting experience at least.
I hope you’ve all had a great Christmas hope 2015 is a good one for all of you.