Photo by Edwyn Parry
I am lost.
I'm looking for something.
It's like those repeated dreams I have of teaching, wandering in a strange school (often dressed only in pants or dressing-gowns.....Freudians, don't respond! ), searching for the class I should be teaching, totally unprepared.
(With the exception of the garb, much like I was when in education then!)
I'm lost, as the dandelions keep growing up between every crack, even as I turn my back; as the front lawn turns into a green trampoline of moss ; as the patio's year-long dark pollution (exported from Ffos-y-fran?) won't be shifted, no matter how hard I brush and whistle the Sorcerer's Apprentice.
A fan when the season's finished, like a twitcher underwater glimpsing a few cormorants diving for fish. I go into a state of transfer speculation , of reluctant summertime hibernation.
It's not just the thrill of games I miss, but the whole ritual (especially remembering the right routes to take, so we win again) : the pre-match pints of hoptastic ale, the banter and discussion with the infamous Pompeii and the boyz and my regular refusal to make any predictions.
What can possibly replace the excitement of the game itself?
Cricket I long since abandoned as turgid and , anyway, why do Welsh players need to play for England?
I enjoy Wimbledon and I would certainly reach for my racket, if I could find a willing partner with equally dodgy eye-sight and lack of fitness.
But it's the atmosphere of the Cardiff City stadium I miss.
There is nothing like watching live footie. I've been to a rugby international and wanted to leave because it rained piss (literally!). I've even been to club rugby games way back when our matches were called off and they make mowing the lawn seem an out-of-this-world experience!
In the end, it's the difference between watching a band in concert and listening to the cd or download, except in the case of Bob Dylan where his gigs are as uplifting as reading a train timetable.
I love the crowd: the shouting ,joking and swearing. I love the chanting raising the team and , above all, the sheer ecstasy of scoring when you jump, leap and scream and lose yourself completely.
What can I possibly do with my Saturdays now (answers confined to haiku, please)?
Fill them with dust and flour, which easily blows away?
Shine them till they sparkle, yet never look at my reflection?
Or walk, doggedly and away, hoping that distance will mean I forget where I should be, where I'm lost in another way....... and belong.
out of season :
wishing it was head of ale
not froth of car shampoo
I cut the lawn
but it's not the pitch
I'd watch, I'd stand
for the team to emerge
from the tunnel ;
television in the evening,
talent show karaoke kings
fame ruling everything
flowers the colours of teams
bluebell and rose both ours,
reminding of the clash
and wanting to hack down
full of shopping
and cardboard chasms
of aisle after aisle
when I was young every wall
was a goal, an aim ;
now brick upon brick
the cells of my brain.
Pen Dinas,near Aberystwyth
Today I received a certificate from Eisteddfod Dysgwyr Morgannwg 2012 for my poem 'Bro'. It was 'Ail' ( 2nd) in the competition for the Chair.
I'd have much preferred a chair, we need an extra one when my family drape along the sofas.
I don't like being second and I have to stop entering competitions, in English and Welsh.
I used to be a Compoholic, but I'm gradually managing to handle my addiction and, as a slow process of withdrawal, restricting myself to a few a year.
It's hopeless! I never win, though I have been commended for a couple.
I don't back horses (they should be running free and not end up getting shot after falling at fences) and after watching the tv drama 'The Syndicate' I am now an authority on just how miserable winning the Lottery can make you.
So, I back myself in the Verse Race instead.
If I were a horse I'd be called Live In Hope and always be pipped at the finish.
For that Eisteddfod (run by the Uni. of Glamorgan) I entered 'Croesi' the first year and came nowhere , though it did appear in the learners' magazine 'Lingo'.
This year I actually entered two under the title of 'Drysau' ('Doors'). One features on a previous blog. Yes, you guessed........came nowhere!
Like the poem 'Drysau' on my blog, 'Bro' opens a door to my own past, in this case my childhood.
'Bro' literally means 'region' and can be used in this way, as in 'Bro Morgannwg'. However, it also has very personal connotations and is much closer to the idea of a 'heartland'. Indeed, I was tempted to use that as the title of my translation, except that it sounds rather sentimental.
'Bro' can be a special word, evoking a strong sense of belonging. In terms of my childhood in Cymru, the countryside around Pen Dinas means so much to me.
The wild abandon I experienced at such an early age was exhilarating. I lived to be outside the house and roaming. It was as if the myriad dens in gorse; storm beach at Tanybwlch , place we called 'Devil's Gulch' (as from some Western film) and rivers we skimmed stones, all belonged to us.
I was at the same time sophisticated and a wild child : taking stories from films and tv (in its nascent years) to use in games, yet also vicious as we threw stones at each other in the streets.
I find it ironic revisiting Aber in Welsh, the language I sadly neglected at Uni. there and one my parents both dismissed.
My mother (outwardly sympathetic to Communism and CND) was hostile to a Welsh language school being set up in the 1950s. My father - a monoglot from Barry whose recent ancestors had all been Welsh-speakers - was equally antagonistic, due to his job and contact with Welsh-speaking farmers, who , he always claimed, mocked his lack of Cymraeg.
So, the Land of My Fathers goes back further, to other generations of coopers, hauliers and estate managers. My tentative steps reclaim their land and also, I sincerely hope, forge a different future ( one great-grandfather was a blacksmith, so I'm allowed this cliche).
No doubt I'll enter next year just for the challenge and not come anywhere.
I have read the poem which won and it was very well executed in rhyming couplets, with admirable patriotism. I'm afraid I could never write like that.
Yna, y gemau ar y bryniau:
hela cusan, hela afalau,
hela tatws yn y cae,
taflu nhw ar y tan,
blas fel y baw.
A nawr, dw i'n cerdded
a chwilio a gwrando
ar y gwynt sy'n cario
yr aderyn o'r cof
a fydd yn aros ar ben to.
Yna, doedd dim ffiniau ;
roedd eithin a drysien
yn lleodd i wneud gwalau,
ac roedd mor ac afonydd
hen barciau dwr i fi.
Nawr, mae'r gwylan yn screchian,
ond y barcud coch yn hedfan
uwch yr heol lle dw i'n rasio
a chwarae gyda phel :
unwaith eto y bachgen yno.
Then, games on the hills :
kiss chase and windfalls,
pulling up the potatoes
and throwing them on a fire,
they tasted of soil.
And now I'm walking
and searching and listening
for the wind that carries
the bird of memory
which will settle on the roof.
Then, no boundaries ;
bramble and gorse bushes
were places we made dens,
and the sea and rivers
were my ancient water-parks.
Now, seagulls are screeching
and the red kite is flying
above the street where I race
and play with a ball :
a boy once more.
Could UKIP become a real political force in Wales, to mirror what they have achieved electorally in England? Judging by their leader Farage's boasts they already are, because he described last week's astonishing gains in the local elections as a 'sea-change in British politics'.
In the media English became synonymous with 'national' and the results in Ynys Mon were hardly noted, where they took a mere 7.8% of the vote, yet still beat the Tories!
UKIP no doubt appeal to those who are understandably cynical about mainstream parties. They also appeal to those (from all classes) who seek to blame immigration for society's ills. They appeal to those who rail against bureaucracy ,but are horrified at the horse-meat scandal caused by less regulation in the food industry. Many see the European Union as the source of all evil.
Crucially, they fill a widening gap in the English identity crisis, only heightened by Scotland's moves towards greater self-determination. A place for those who don't want to be tarnished by the overt fascism of BNP and EDL.
They are the respectable side of xenophobia , with their motto of 'It's not about race, but about space!' This conceals an underlying racism that spreads fear about millions of Romanians and Bulgarians descending on this Disunited Kingdom.
The 'No to Europe!' negative rallying cry of UKIP is very similar to the Loyalists in n.Ireland, who constantly define themselves by what they are not and not what they are.
UKIP see themselves are quintessentially British, yet their narrow-minded obsession with sealing the borders reflects the worst aspects of English jingoism ; the very opposite of the Occupy movement with its idealism and anarchism harkening back to the Diggers and Levellers.
So, given this, how could they possibly appeal to the people of Cymru?
Well, in Merthyr Tudful we recently had two UKIP Councillors and still have one; moreover, the Welsh UKIP MEP John Bufton has anticipated gains in next year's European elections.
I happen to agree with him for a number of reasons and believe that pro-EU parties will see a marked decline in their votes.
The appeal of their anti-immigration stance and British triumphalism certainly attracts right-wing elements who either see the BNP as too extreme , or the Tories as too weak.
In my street alone, there are at least two such people: blatant racists who might not vote for an overtly fascist party, but would definitely consider UKIP.
More significantly, their anti-EU stance has no left-wing equivalent.
Social Democratic parties like Plaid Cymru are slavishly uncritical of the EU, yet so many of its worst manifestations are destroying the lives of working-class people.
Workers are lured from country to country with the promise of higher wages, only to be exploited by companies and then discarded. Countries such as Cyprus are forced to kow-tow to the Troika and deploy vicious austerity measures.
The EU has become an autocratic monetarist Union, which has appointed technocrats in the governments of Greece and Italy, who weren't even elected to govern!
The reality in Cymru for years is that we have been neglected both by Westminster and by Europe and our continuing poverty and unemployment is an indictment of both levels of government.
Naturally, we need to co-operate with others of a similar ilk, with workers and progressive groups throughout the world who share our interests and aspirations. Especially with those movements who, like ourselves , are struggling against larger nation-states.
There's no doubt UKIP will get support from those in Wales who see themselves as exclusively British and are still opposed to devolution (this includes Labour and Tory voters).
However, I feel that a genuine disillusionment with the EU will express itself in greater support for the obnoxious UKIP.
Another factor will be voter apathy. Many will not vote because they cannot see how European institutions are affecting their lives, yet can see that it's the ConDem Coalition which is causing them to become poorer in every way.
Where is the leftist alliance capable of arguing a case against an EU which exists increasingly to improve the lot of banks and companies? Where is the force for genuine change from outside these bodies, where people can set up their own alternatives and take power into their hands, rather than simply making a cross on a square : a paper kiss and a thrown-away promise.
THEY'RE COMING, 29 MILLION!
Romanians and Bulgarians are coming,
29 million of them,
shiploads across the Channel,
we cannot stop them!
How many Dimitar Berbatovs
will be among them?
They'll bring their horse-meat
with them, more contamination.
Like Vlad the Impaler,
like vampires from Transylvania ;
I've been to Sunny Beach,
I know those shady dealers.
Bulgarians and Romanians are coming,
not just Romanies on the run
flogging their Big Issues,
but the real thing this time.
They'll be taking all the jobs
we haven't got, the Council housing
which has been sold off,
opening unpronounceable shops.
They'll be living off benefits
and working on fruit farms,
they'll be gangs of pick-pockets
converging on every town.
They're coming, 29 million,
to suck red blood from the Union!
I've got nothing against them as people,
but there's just no room.
Photo by Edwyn Parry
THIEVES STEAL BRIDGE!
Outside-a newsagents I seen the eadlines
'THIEVES STEAL BRIDGE!'
sif this town wuz livin up
to its repewtation.
I thought of the missis
on er way ome down-a A470
an would she disappear
inta a chasm by Pentrebach?
Thought o my son goin swimmin
down Rhydycar an would ee
afta swim the river
jest t get t the Leisure Centre?
An my dad walkin is dog,
would ee think of it
as a big gap in is brain,
tha ee woz gettin dementia?
Thought o ones over main roads,
them A-shaped structures
don' seem t be going nowhere ;
nobuddy'd notice if they woz missin.
For once, I bought a paper
an they adn stole the whool thing,
jest loadsa iron bars.
Still, it got me thinkin.
Players celebrating after the game
A rather ordinary 0-0 draw v. Charlton at Cardiff City Stadium on April 16th and a match we could've won had Craig Bellamy taken the best chance of the game. Yet the quality of football didn't matter!
Charlton were yet another team who played in away blue, though their colour is red. Their fans, like Forest and Barnsley previously, chanted 'Come on you reds!', while ours chanted 'The blues are going up!' at a team playing in red. Totally bizarre!
Yet, for once, even shirts and crest didn't matter!
Vincent Tan, our corrupt Malaysian owner, sat in the Grandstand bedecked in red coat, 'an evil Santa' as my friend dubbed him.
And he didn't matter!
As the Watford score came through near the end (they were losing), it became obvious that, at long last, we were going up.
Recent years of failure in the play-offs - to West Ham last season and , more depressingly, to Blackpool at Wembley- were finally buried and forgotten.
So used to being nervous, I still counted down to the whistle even though Watford's game mattered more and , judging by all the singing, yelling and chanting, that was probably over.
Exactly 53 years before, Cardiff City had achieved promotion to the top tier with victory over Villa.
I was in a state of utter shock. Delight, of course , and repeated chanting, but I still couldn't take it all in.
Even on the pitch afterwards, with masses of fans taking photos and celebrating, it was hard to believe.
I've been through the very worst of times with the City, when we were in the deepest, darkest dungeon ; when police outnumbered fans and arrested them for fun ; when our reactions to some players was to laugh at them.
Now the Premiership was a reality : Rooney, van Persie, Bale (surely a Kairdiff boy won't destroy us?), Suarez (will he make a meal of it?), Aguero and so on.
Amazingly, I'd arranged to go to Burnley the following Saturday and my son booked tickets in their end , as we didn't have Away membership.
I showed uncharacteristic restraint when Craig Conway scored a cracker in the first half. If anyone asked, I was a neutral from Wrexham. I haven't been so quiet in a game since I went on my own to the North Bank in the old Vetch Field for a derby match! In those days, I was either a lunatic or very naive!
When Burnley deservedly equalised late on, I rose to my feet and clapped politely, not wanting to stand out. I could afford to be generous as news came that Hull were losing and we would be crowned as Champions that day.
We stayed behind to celebrate and , luckily, a few Burnley fans did likewise.
Our manager Malky Mackay was given the bumps, a sure sign of the superior strength and fitness or our players, to throw such a big fella so high at the end of a tough game.
Lots more champagne, but would our squad sober up in time for the Bolton match a week after that?
It didn't matter a jot , of course. As my friend said, ' You might as well give the match to them and get on to the really important stuff afterwards.'
As it happened, we looked sharp and in control early on, with Kim, Mutch and Gunnarsson dominant in midfield.
In the first half , they had one attack and scored from it. Substitute Craig Noone's cheeky free-kick was our equaliser, but everyone was waiting for the ceremony.
I have to say I'm not impressed with the anti-Swansea chanting which is racist ( anti- Gypsies), but it demonstrates the intense rivalry ( I can only hope Michu is injured when we play them next season).
When we chanted 'We're Cardiff City, we'll always be blue!' I was very proud of the many fans who echoed my own allegiances to the history and traditions of the club I love.
(I still have moments of disorientation, when I see 'red' and think I'm next to an away fan!).
The presentation was a time for players (and their little children) to take to the pitch, hold the trophy and acknowledge the fanatical support.
Many claim it's no time to look to the Premier and best to savour the moment, but I've do doubt Mackay has already been preparing.
As QPR have shown, money doesn't guarantee success, though Reading show the opposite is also true : there's a need to invest in new players of proven experience and quality.
Our scouting system abroad doesn't match Swansea's. Of the previously foreign-based players, only Kim Bo-Kyung has become a regular and only recently.
Therefore, I expect our manager to sign players from Premiership clubs either for reasonable fees, on loan , or those out of contract.
What better way to begin than by getting Leon Barnett from Norwich, who did a great job for us on loan? He has pace, calm assurance and the all-round ability to make it at that level.
It's exciting that so many big names are linked, yet much is speculation. If we signed Giggs, Beckham and Phil Neville we'd have a team of pensionable age.
The one player my son and I agree on is QPR's Loic Remy, a class striker who combines movement, pace and goal-scoring prowess. He's top of the wish list.
One thing's certain, next season will be memorable and , I hope, not catastrophic. Hopefully, we can follow the example set by Norwich, Southampton and, dare I say it, Swansea City.
NO MORE THE NEARLY MEN
No more the nearly men
those who write poems
yet never read them
shopkeepers who sell goods,
ignoring customers' feelings
inventors whose creations work
but don't improve the human condition
singers whose songs
only remain in a room
teachers with the qualifications,
fail to bring original thinking
chefs who refuse to share
their recipes with anyone
journalists who believe
headlines are the point of reporting
fans who think money alone
is what makes a team
no more the almost-made-its
no more the nearly men.
Theatr y Castell, Aberystwyth
THE BUILDING RECALLS
'Mum, when are you going to stop acting?'
my sister recalls a question, not answer.
The building recalls Wardens, AmDram Aber
and my mother centre stage
as ever, taking the spotlight
in any lounge or kitchen.
She never gave away anything,
her best role reserved for visitors
was Shocking Pink, as if conversation
began and ended with 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'.
It wasn't make up, but layers
of skin which concealed the truth;
hardened for years into sediments
like the chalklands of Cambridgeshire
we escaped to from my father.
She was all over Darlings
even when she let me go at eighteen
with a rail timetable, to find my home.
'Mum! When are you going to stop....?'
In the hospital bed, screaming the heat
of scorching veins, her dead weight
winched up and down, keening before her time.
Graffiti on the Falls, Belfast
This week I downloaded my first ever Judy Garland song : 'The Wizard of Oz' makes sense for the first time! Though I would've preferred to have backed Robert Wyatt's version of Elvis Costello's anti-Falklands War song 'Shipbuilding', to get to number 1 this week.
'Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead' will be played for 5 seconds on Radio 1, despite its chart position. The more you suppress, the more you make people angry. On the internet, dissent is widespread and vociferous.
I texted my friend the Bartzman with the news and he replied - ' Maggots 1 Maggie 0' .
A few polite and deferential writers appeared on Facebook asking for respect.
How could they understand?
Here was the enemy, gone forever.
Over £10 million will be spent on her military/state funeral, money better spent on building up the many communities she devastated, which have never recovered.
A person , more than any other, who carried out malicious and widespread attacks on so many sections of society.
An enemy I had opposed and protested against for every one of her repugnant policies.
Against her deliberate creation of unemployment which destroyed not just the Valleys where I live, but many other working-class areas and had been one of the main causes of riots in the black areas of Britain, together with the SUS laws, used to stop and search black people.
I'd protested against the way she sold off industries owned by the people, without consulting them and sought to decimate the Trade Union movement by taking on the most militant force, the NUM.
I'd protested against the war she began in the Falklands : so many pointless deaths of both British and Argentinians. Land rightfully claimed by Argentina, but colonised by the Empire, as with so many other places in the world, especially Ireland.
I'd protested against the appalling way which she treated those republican political prisoners in Long Kesh (the Maze prison). What respect did she show for one of them, Bobby Sands MP, in his brave struggle for a political status they had once possessed ? She called him a 'common criminal' in the House of Commons, when he died after a hunger strike.
And against those cruise missiles planted on British soil at Greenham Common, making this country a base for US global strategy and a threat to world peace.
She has been proved so wrong on many counts.
In n. Ireland, where Sinn Fein became one of the prime peace-makers.
In the Valleys and other former heavy industrial communities, where coal has often been replaced by opencast mining, just as 'dirty' and opposed by most people for its pollution and environmental ravages.
Oh yes, and whatever happened to that Nelson Mandela, she once dubbed a 'terrorist'?
She's been proved radically wrong about privatisation, the banks and the property boom she instigated.
All these have caused the huge economic problems we now wrestle with, that no political parties can solve, simply because (in their adherence to the free market) they remain influenced by Thatcherism.
Above all, as part of Cymru Goch, I protested against her iniquitous poll tax, which charged the same amount of local tax for everyone, rich and poor, irrespective of income or the value of their property.
It was this anti-poll tax campaign and its use of civil disobedience (non-payment) which, more than anything else, led to her downfall.
It was an example of what can be achieved when enough people
get together and decide to challenge an unjust law, many out of sheer necessity of course.
Yet again, the mainstream political parties failed to take a lead. In fact, Labour Councils acted as puppets of the Tory Government, sending the bailiffs in and imprisoning refuseniks.
I do agree with my friend and comrade Marc Jones when he says - 'I will dance on the grave of Thatcherism'.
Thatcherism is very much alive, as Cameron attacks the poor, low paid and disabled in particular; as public service workers are made redundant and face massive wage and pension cuts ; as education and the NHS (in England, at least) are privatised.
Mandela could forgive his enemies simply because the battle against apartheid had been won.
Despite the death of one enemy, her loathsome legacy lives on.
THE ONE TIME I SAW HER
( with thanks to Jean Perry)
We had this posh Head in the Comp.,
never had a clue about the kids ;
drunk dads throwing school shoes over walls.
Wanted to do something for the Specials
and I, who could always get them drawing,
was sent with them to London.
Furthest some of them ever been
was the Gower or exotic Coney Beach ;
eyes getting wider with every mile.
When we got there, Hyde Park,
whatever was happening had been and gone,
some military band or procession.
There was nothing special laid on
and we queued ages, van after van,
for pop and crisps and toilets flooding.
Some of them were crying - 'I wanna go home!'
I wanna go back to Blaenymaes!'
Home comforts, wall to wall swearing.
It was then I clearly heard them,
foot-thumps like beating of truncheons
on shields, hob-nailed boots of policemen.
A phalanx crossing quickly near us,
in their midst Mrs Thatch, the Iron Lady,
Milk Snatcher, where we lived the Wicked Witch.
Stepping rapidly like escaping a bomb scare,
a military operation till she stumbled
and fell over a coke can; the kids laughing.
Now she has fallen so much further
and not all those staffs and helmets
can offer her any protection.
Barry Island photo by Mike Vaughan
DOWN TO THE PAN-WASH
This was the lowest you could get
down to the Pan-wash,
just the two of us
and nobody wants to talk
to the very smelliest.
Drains and sinks clogged,
meals’ remains like vomit,
Health and Safety sniff
and then move on rapidly :
we are beyond remedy.
Such a long way from Red Coats
with their stage presences,
or Security with their badges ;
even from the lines and kitchens
where there are others to share it.
My workmate’s toiling in his pants
and doing penance for sins
he simply won’t confess,
as I‘m scrubbing and scouring
pot after plate after pan.
Hands lost in the scummy water
and the rank odour of rotting food
sticking in my nostrils and throat ;
a thirst long as Barry Island beach,
taste like sea, my skin’s drip.
Dyma’r drws i’r gorffennol,
y llwybr fach yn fy mhentref fi.
Dyma’r ffordd dw i’n cerdded,
er gwaethaf cyfarth y ci.
Coeden afal sur wedi mynd nawr,
dim ond waliau yr ysgol newydd.
Diflannodd y sticil dros y nant hefyd:
arwydd o berygl ar y ffens fawr.
Ro’n i’n arfer chwilio yn y gwern
am frogau bach, gyda fy mhlant,
ac roedden ni’n bwyta mefus gwyllt
yn y lle o greigiau, o’r hen bwll.
Dyma’r drws i’r dyfodol,
o diwedd y Waun ( y tir ail-eni);
yr ystad tai newydd sbon,
lle oedd mwyar duon wedi tyfu.
Here’s the door to the past
along the thin village path.
This is the direction I take,
despite the dog’s loud bark.
Crab apple trees all gone now,
only high walls of the new school.
Stile by the stream taken down
and replaced by a DANGER sign.
With my children, finding the marshland
and frogs to hop from their tiny hands.
We would eat wild strawberries,
grew among rocks where mines used to be.
Here’s the door to the future
where wildness of the Waun’s no more;
an estate of brand-new housing
where blackberries once grew for picking.
Cardiff City 3 Blackburn 0. Just another result and ,to many, irrelevant.
Even to us Bluebirds, it's not as if we've won anything yet; not as if we've clinched that promotion to the Premiership which has eluded us for so many seasons of almost-wons, especially that Play-off Final v. Blackpool at Wembley.
Yet, for the first time this season ,on Easter Monday, I actually dared believe we could do it, that we wouldn't follow the Spurs in our tradition of end-of-season collapses.
Despite the fact that Blackburn are a club in crisis with a caretaker manager, they have a sufficient number of players of both class and reputation to be respected: top scorer Jordan Rhodes, Leon Best who has played well in the Premier with Newcastle and the experience of Scott Danns and Danny Murphy, both accustomed to the higher league.
On paper ,at least, they are stern opponents. In reality, they achieved one disallowed goal, one shot which hit the bar and little else.
Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay at last altered our formation and accomodated both Kim Bo Kyung and Jordan Mutch, big money buys who have promised much (forgive the pun) but delivered less.
Mackay's 4-1-4-1 system proved a masterstroke. Whittingham, who has faded badly as the season went on, was relegated to the bench for the first time and Gunnarsson filled the holding role he does so well, with his extra running and tackling power. Kim and Mutch were given the freedom to dominate midfield.
Both were superb in the first half till the latter tired, but Kim ran the game throughout with a brilliant display of movement and passing and he never shied away from a challenge. A neglected player, he proved his point and, if we make it, will be crucial in the Premiership, as will the complimentary Mutch with his forceful, direct approach.
Bellamy and Conway always threatened on the wings, while Fraizer Campbell was full of pace and running up front in a solo role which Mason filled even better when he came on as sub.
Every player had an excellent game and, yet again, left-back Taylor was outstanding both defensively and with his timely overlaps and dangerous crosses.
New loan signing Leon Barnett should be snapped up end of season, as he reads the game well and has the kind of pace we generally lack at centre-back. His distribution was invariably effective.
More cause for optimism comes from the fact that our squad is a young one. With the exception of Bellamy, Marshall and captain Hudson, the average age is about 24.
Unlike any other season, we have great strength in depth. The fast and tricky Noone didn't even get on, while Joe Mason (hero of the valiant League Cup Final defeat to Liverpool) came off the bench to score a fine goal and make the penalty.
In recent months, Mackay has become rather obdurate and inflexible in his Dave Jones-style adherence to 4-4-2. The Blackburn game changed all that and - although we may need two holding players if we make it
( Swansea style) - the way we played football was a joy to witness.
Swansea fans still like to think of us as imitators of Stoke's tactics and - though we do score a fair share from set pieces - we made more chances than any other game from open play.
Apart from Gestede and Helguson ( who plays much less often), we don't possess the aerial, physical players which Stoke rely on in abundance and we certainly aren't a team to wreck the opposition with cynical challenges (which Blackburn are!).
With Kim in control, our play is full of movement and subtlety, enabling the likes of Bellamy and Campbell to thrive.
Maybe my excitement's premature and we'll go to Watford next Saturday and the Championship's top player Vydra will bring us crashing down to earth in a fall from great height.
However, I'd like to think my optimism's not misplaced, even though we are experts at blowing it.
GETTING USED TO HEIGHTS
Like a roofer,window-cleaner or scaffolder
I'm getting used to the heights.
They are frightening and I'm always
staring down at the opposition.
I should be in my element,
a bird, after all, and not mythical.
My blue camouflage with sky behind,
yet my wings made of paper.
I'm accustomed to falling
every season like a lemming.
I catch glimpses of the horizon :
tall, bright towers of stadiums.
If it happens, there'll be a causeway
and we'll stride in our thousands.