There was a feeling on the way to the Wig and Pen that this would be no ordinary trip to watch Swansea City. It was Six Nations day and Wales had just lost to France in dramatic style. The Swans were scheduled to play Bournemouth away in the Premier League half an hour later, with hopes they would cheer up the deflated locals after some promising results since Paul Clement took over as manager.
Entering the pub was reminiscent of the London tubes during rush hour, with many pushing each other around and the smell of body odour an assault on all senses; the only difference was that people spoke to each other. The mixture of white Swansea shirts with the red of Wales created an oddly satisfying sea of pink, which moved in waves as people bought their drinks.
The game kicked off and everyone except a small pocket of rugby fanatics turned their attention to the nearest TV and breathed in collectively, hoping for some form of positive result on the back of a good run. It was proving hard to find a position where you wouldn’t be blocking someone’s view.
“Move over, get out of the way!” yelled an exasperated elderly man above the commotion, waving his hands vigorously as if he was swatting a fly.
It was fortunate he spoke up otherwise he would have missed Bournemouth’s opening goal on the half hour mark, which surprisingly received minimal reaction. Many of the fans soon after showed signs of belief that the Swans could turn this around, appealing for handballs and reacting to near misses as enthusiastically as before.
Although the atmosphere was deafening as the locals vented away their work and sporting-life troubles, the half time whistle drew no negative reaction from the Jack Army. They remained calm in a storm of atmospheric ambience.
The second half kicked off and the fans became more animated. Sighing at every misplaced, shot or touch, patience was running out for some.
“Wake up for f*** sake!” barked a middle-aged man next to me, chugging the remains of his drink in frustration, with his breath somehow over-powering the general sweaty smell fused with alcohol.
With fifteen minutes to go, the inevitable happened and Bournemouth scored their second to put some breathing space between them and the sub-standard Swans. A resigned groan reverberated around the pub, bouncing off the walls and shaking the glasses on the tables. The fans were frustrated with Bournemouth’s unrelenting attacks, turning the pub into a pink sea of despair.
The old man who had earlier vented his frustration got up and left on 86 minutes, with a deadly look in his eye. He wasn’t the only one as the majority of fans flooded out, with all their passion and faith wasted on a game their heroes could have won. The atmosphere seeped out and the pub became its traditional place of sorrow-drinking and sadness.