Fly Me To The Moon column: Memories of Swansea away trips - hopefully they won't be long before we get back to West Wales

Fly Me To The Moon column: Robert Nichols looks ahead to Middlesbrough’s meeting with Swansea City.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 5:07 pm

Middlesbrough’s away victory over Coventry was hard fought and those three points were really welcome.

It did show real character to claw our way back after going behind to finally win the game. All three goals would never feature in any season highlights package but probably epitomised a match that could never win awards for style. Instead there was plenty of industry and endeavour to overcome the Sky Blues and also defeat a brute of a pitch.

No wonder so much of the play was played well above the non playing surface. It was a pitch that resembled a painting by one of Teesside's greatest living artists, William Tillyer. He combines industry and landscape in his compositions by pushing paint through a metallic grid. In the same way the St Andrew’s pitch laid bare the underlying grid with occasional grasses pushing through from the sand foundation exposed. No wonder they tried to swamp it with water before kick-off. That is what you get for having no summer preparation followed by two teams playing out a crowded fixture list.

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The Liberty Stadium.

Neil Warnock lamented Coventry leaving behind their Ricoh Stadium. Built with aspirations to be a new Wembley, you can park immediately off the motorway and walk along a canal to the pale blue edifice. Instead in the year that Coventry tries to make a statement as City of Culture the city's team plays away at the home of Birmingham.

Next up Boro face a really tricky match away at Swansea. The 300 mile plus journey to the Liberty Stadium might be the longest away journey of the season but always my favourite weekend of the football calendar.

I would normally arrive on the Friday night where you can eat some scran looking across Swansea Bay from the Mumbles. On recent trips I have run the most scenic of Saturday morning park runs along the shoreline from a starting point close to St Helens cricket and rugby ground. It is a ground still instantly recognisable from the tv footage of Garry Sobers making history by whacking six sixes in an over back in 1968.

A Sobers six clearing the St Helens Ground stands could almost but not quite have reached the football ground at Vetch Field. That was the last year before Swansea Town became Swansea City Football archaeologists like me can still find the last remnants of the Vetch. A couple of gates and a turnstile block guard an open space with a circle in the middle reminiscent of the centre circle. For me living at Ayresome Park this is like a home from home.

Ironopolis versus Copperopolis. We have much in common. The Riverside alike Liberty Stadium stands next to the former furnaces heartland in the valley of the River Tawe, which rushes past when it rains and it usually does when we meet.

I won't miss the weather but am hoping to return to West Wales soon. A Boro win would temper their present burst towards Premier promotion. With the prospect of parkrun returning in June I am hoping it won't be too long before I will be running around Swansea Bay again dreaming of Sir Garfield Sobers sixes and Boro taking the points.

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