From North of the Cities by Louis Jenkins (Will o’ the Wisp Books, 2007)
Nostalgia plays a big part in the life of a football fan, consistently finding its way into the narratives we create to feed our love for the game. But sentimentality for the past isn't limited to fans of clubs who have fallen on hard times – periods of failure (or even lethargic inactivity) are often celebrated as much as periods of glory, a way for fans who lived through those dog days to say: "I'm not just here for the good times...I was here when we were shit, and I'll still be here when that normal service is resumed."
In case you didn't know (and I'm not sure how you wouldn't, because I go on about it a lot) – I'm a supporter of Swansea City FC. My stepdad took me to my first game when I was 11 years old and, apart from a brief period when I thought that music might be more important than football, I've been a devoted member of the Jack Army ever since.
The story of Swansea's recent rise through the divisions of the English league has been well-documented (it even made it to the big screen last year). Like many supporters, I've grown to accept that the shiny, new Liberty Stadium – which the Swans moved into in time for the 2005/06 season – has been a crucial factor in the club's success, but I still crave the days when my mates and I would pile into a bus at Morriston Cross and head down to the seafront for a visit to the Swans' former home: the cobbled-together collection of crumbling brick, rotting wood and tin cow-shed sheets known as the Vetch Field.
Searching your own name on the internet is a risky move – you never know what might turn up. Maybe you'll unearth that MySpace blog you lovingly curated as an angst-ridden 15-year-old, or discover that the video of you singing karaoke at last year's office Christmas party made its way onto YouTube after all (despite the promises of your co-workers).
Before we continue, I must stress that neither of these things can be found by searching my name. The top results when you search 'Rhys Owain Williams' are pretty much all linked to either this website or to my various social media profiles (hopefully that video of me singing Breakfast at Tiffany's will never see the light of day).
So it was a nice surprise when, out of vain curiosity, I put my name into the Twitter search engine and saw this tweet from 4 days ago: