Yes, those things at either end of the pitch. Have you noticed how they never move?
However, in the rarified atmosphere of the corridors of power, things are somewhat different. A few days ago we learned of a change to what we understood to be the format of the Indigo Premiership Cup, the group stages of which are, of course, underway. In fact, not just underway but rapidly approaching their conclusion.
Now those particular goalposts, as we understood them, have moved. Whereas we were expecting to see the top two clubs from each pool of six go forward to play in a knockout competition involving two semi-finals and a final, to be played at dates, times and venues still unknown to the world at large, now we discover that it will in fact be the top four from each pool of six going forward to play in an eight-team knockout competition.
“So what?” I hear you ask. “More matches is good, isn’t it?”
Well, OK yes, but (and I appreciate that this will come as good news to our visitors this evening, as they currently sit in third place with a very high probability of progressing to the knockout stages) why not announce it at the start of the season? It wouldn’t surprise me if certain clubs who now have no chance of qualifying for the top four after 80% of the fixtures are completed, will be protesting that, having perhaps got off to a shaky start and having written off their chances of qualifying, would have taken a different approach to the later rounds instead of using them to try out new players and combinations. It would, in my opinion, be a valid complaint – in a post-lockdown season where pre-season player recruitment would have been more difficult than usual, opportunities to look at potential signings were extremely limited before the season began in earnest. At Aberavon, some years ago we suffered from goalposts suddenly being shifted beyond our reach, and it left behind a very bitter taste that lasted for quite a number of years. Things have moved on since then, I know, but memories still linger.
This also sees the Premiership Cup now firmly installed as the main competition for this season, as many have expressed the opinion that the league competition, due to begin next month, is likely to be a somewhat half-baked affair with everyone playing one another just the once, meaning that some have more home fixtures than others. Whoever finishes top, it will almost certainly be regarded as a lesser achievement than winners of a full-on home-and-away league programme.
Such things, however, are beyond our control, and on we must go regardless. At least this does change this evening’s match; whereas from a Carmarthen viewpoint it would have been something of a ‘dead rubber’ with no prize at stake for them, there is now the opportunity for them to cement their third place qualifying spot, and with a pretty good record here at the Talbot Athletic Ground, they’ll be fancying their chances, despite the Wizards’ fine performance in the idyllic Autumnal surroundings of Carmarthen Park just a few short weeks ago – sadly a dark and, no doubt, chilly November evening in Port Talbot is all we can offer by way of reciprocation!
Enjoy the game.