I’m nervous and the strange thing is, I think, I like it. Well, if not like it, I’m used to it and if truth be told I’m probably addicted to this feeling. That Chinese curse of ‘may you live in interesting times’ can indeed be a curse but ask yourself this question, would you rather the alternative, slowly growing more and more bored everyday with absolutely nothing to worry about?
Of course, today’s feeling of fear and nervousness is all to do with Swansea City playing Chelsea late this afternoon at the Liberty. It’s a game we hope we might get a point from whilst already thinking that the really important games will come next month.
The more and more I think about it the more it could well be that I’m suffering an adrenaline, chemical addiction that has been stimulated over the years by fear. Fear of not fitting in at school, sports day, work, no work, relationships… Everyday life has a way of making you worry and because of that the adrenal gland gets a good work out most days producing adrenaline, the ‘flight or flight’ drug.
We all work out our own way of dealing with fear and tension. Some of us withdraw and let life wash over us. I have a couple of friends who take this attitude to life and although they might not be considered by the world to be ‘great achievers’, they are still doing pretty well. They also look a lot younger than me and they still have all their own hair.
So why would we decide to look life straight in the eye and decide we are not prepared to back down? In the end no one gets out of this alive so why don’t we accept our fate and live each day as it comes, as easily as we can. I suppose that’s where adrenaline comes in, it has the ability to create a flight response where we run away from danger but it also has a fight response which can make us stand our ground and say we won’t back down.
I suppose I have always been a bit, well, ‘bloody minded’. That’s all very well but as life goes on you realise that in most cases if it’s you against the world the cards are pretty well stacked in favour of the world. If you are ‘bloody minded’ you really can’t help yourself. Somewhere along the line you find that this type of situation can lead to you feeling as if someone is literally injecting your body with adrenaline and then you realise…you ‘kinda’ like it!
The South Wales Evening Post Theatre, 2010
All of this came clearly into focus for me when I was in the process of taking 4 empty retail units on Swansea High Street back in 2010. Yet again, financially, my house was on the line. I had also persuaded lots of businesses run by friends and people I knew to support the building of the South Wales Evening Post Theatre for a 24 week run of one show, The Cappuccino Girls. With a few weeks to go I remember driving into rehearsals when I got a phone call. With any new business or building you have to go through many hoops to license the building for lots of eventualities, for us it was entertainment and dancing. As always I had put an almost unrealistic deadline in for our opening night in order to focus everyone’s minds.
I stopped the car and took the call. The date was set for us to open with full fanfare and a room full of sponsors who would expect to see that we had used their money and support wisely and that we could be trusted to deliver on our promises. After all these years I can’t remember the exact problem but in essence the situation was there was no way that the date we had chosen would be attainable. As the fear hit me I could feel that unmistakable surge of adrenaline. I’ve just checked online and the adrenal gland is situated somewhere near the kidneys. That’s as maybe, but I know how it works in my body. For me the surge starts in the middle of my chest and then spreads quite quickly down my arms. I wouldn’t say it was a good feeling, the best way I can describe it is that it feels like being very much alive. I’m sure at this moment most sensible people would have thought about a house repossession and being humiliated in front of friends and business colleagues but all I could think was, I know this feeling and I think I can’t live without it.
Which brings me back to the Swans against Chelsea tomorrow. In past years, obviously not the last few years, with 4 games to go we have found ourselves in the middle of the Premier League, safe for another season and with nothing to play for. That’s what everyone really wants isn’t it, safety with games to spare so that the club can plan for the next year where the ambition is to be safe in 12 months’ time? The first year it happened we were all in party mood. After a couple of years, I think people got a bit bored and started wondering why we weren’t winning things. Then we won the League Cup and then that still wasn’t enough.
The last few years haven’t been all fun and laughs at the Liberty. Back at Christmas everyone thought we had already been relegated and if you had seen us play you would have little arguments with our league position, rooted to the bottom and almost needing snookers. Then King Carlos came with his funny lines and a new spirit and we started to win games and play in a way that made the Liberty sing again. Then as usual with football fans we got carried away and couldn’t understand why we weren’t ‘giving Man City a real go’.
There’s no point in being blindly ‘bloody minded’. You have to learn from past experiences. You need to stop and think exactly how to fight back if you are going to have any chance of occasionally winning. If I go back to that day in 2010, following the phone call I knew the show had to open on the day we said we would open. It wasn’t easy, we had to argue our case and it cost money I hadn’t really got but with the help of lots of people the doors opened, and we saved face and my house.
The game against Man City is past, I think we all knew that with the way they play and the run in we had that game wouldn’t define our season. Maybe that was reflected in the way the manager set up his team and also the way the players approached the game. If I’m being logical today is still not the start of the end of our season’ that starts next week with 3 of the most important games for the Swans…since the last 3 most important games.
No matter how they’ve been playing lately you would have to say Chelsea are a team of world class players who should beat us. I think we might get a point, we might beat Chelsea, we might see all of our opponents lose and today we may start swimming gracefully away from danger. I dream that a win will mean the last game of the season against Stoke won’t fill us with the dreadful though that Joe Allen is going to score the winning goal that send us down. Of course, we could be safe long before that Stoke game and if we are I won’t be the slightest bit disappointed but if you are a Swansea fan the next few weeks will make us feel nervous and it will make us feel alive…even if it kills us!