It was a bad start, as workmen had pulled up many of the bricks on the walkway leading to the gate entrance on Sloper Rd., including mine with 'Bluebirds' Poet' on it. Hopefully, they'll soon be re-laid.
Moreover, the only trace left of Ninian Park was a pile of rubble once the Bob Bank, where my old seat used to be. The streets of the new housing estate built on it have yet to be named after the likes of Phil Dwyer or Brian Clark.
Approaching our stadium, there was litter all over the car-park and a few litter-pickers making little impression on the discarded cans, bottles and food cartons. I recalled that Stereophonics had played the first ever concert there the Saturday before.
I'd hoped to meet a hero of mine, Scott Young - now one of the main people behind the Football in the Community scheme - but he was off on holiday. As I waited in their office, one of the workers burst in with the news - 'I've just heard......Stuart Cable's dead!' No-one could believe it.
I remembered meeting him not so long ago at the launch ( in a microbrewery, then a pub) of the local anthology 'Merthyr Writing!' He was very down-to-earth and approachable. Then again, back in 2007, when we were invited guests in his area of the Liberty, as his band supported The Who. No doubt there were a few of his fellow Bluebirds there, who found it hard to keep their gobs shut after a few pints.
The workshops went well and the pupils (from Valleys' schools) were very responsive, but looking out on the stadium and the stage being taken down after the gig, only increased my sense of melancholy.
The Phonics first album 'Word Gets Around' was by far their best, with every song rooted in their upbringing and community and Cable's drumming was fundamental to the sound. Moreover, he was a Moon-like character in a group who came over as too mundane.
In the last few months the Valleys has lost two super rock musicians. The death of Micky Jones should've brought equal tributes at the very least. Jones was one of the finest guitarists ever and his band , Man, will one day get the plaudits they deserve.
Cable and Jones...........don't know if they ever met each other, but their backgrounds are very similar. Both were Valleys' boys who grew up in small terraced houses, one listening to AC/DC, the other to the likes of Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Stuart and Micky........I dream of a Rock School, somewhere between Aberdare and Merthyr ( maybe Llwydcoed?) which bears their names.
STUART CABLE'S NO MORE
Flowers on the roadside,
flowers on his car :
all quiet in Llwydcoed
and shocked in Aberdare.
There's nobody up there,
so it's no use speaking :
thunder booms its bass drum,
lightning's cymbals clashing.
Car-park's flooded with litter,
broken bottles on the floor,
barrels empty, stage dismantled
and Stuart Cable's no more.