Paul Williams (Swansea Programme Notes)

Happy Saturdays, a chilly (not chilli) dip and a warm welcome.

It’s with some relief that today we return to something resembling normalcy with a traditional Saturday afternoon kick-off (OK, pedants, I know that the ‘traditional’ kick-off time during my formative years was 3pm, but let’s not split too many hairs here) following a December marked by rapidly descending evening temperatures and the memory of our last home match of 2022 having been switched to a Thursday evening to accommodate the requirement for S4C to broadcast a live stream of that match across the internet. While such coverage of the Indigo Group Premiership is most welcome during an era in which domestic rugby seems to be at best either inaccurately or extremely briefly reported upon, and at worst increasingly overlooked in certain sections of the media, it’s well outside the comfort zone for those of us who stand or sit to watch it while the ambient temperature maintains a relentlessly downward trajectory.

Speaking of plummeting ambient temperatures, I simply must mention the Christmas morning jaunt by our club chairman Andrew John, who braced himself to brave the wintry waves at Aberavon beach and joined the throng assembled there to “enjoy” the local tradition, perpetuated by members of Taibach RFC, of a brief Christmas morning “dip” in the sea, with the aim of raising funds for the Chemotherapy Unit at Singleton Hospital. As someone the same age as Andrew (within a few days) I have to say that it was quite cold enough for me standing on the promenade watching the event, but he assures me that he thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hopes to repeat the feat next Christmas (note to self – ask Santa Claus for a warmer overcoat for December 2023).

Anyway, back to this afternoon, and the arrival of the All Whites for our first home match of the second half of the season (is it me or did the first half of the 2022-23 campaign seem to go by in little more than the blink of an eye?). As one who spent much of his working life within a stone’s throw of St Helen’s, there are any number of people amongst my circle of friends who, to some degree or another, would regard themselves as Swansea supporters, and prior to retirement this lone Wizard-watcher in the office was often massively outnumbered in the pre- and post-match banter that arose around these fixtures. So, a warm welcome once again, All Whites, to the Talbot Athletic Ground.

Enjoy the game.