This is our truth, tell us yours
There are certain traditions that go with July and being a Welshman in England. They are, amongst other things
1. Explaining why Glamorgan play cricket in Colwyn Bay, and why real Welshmen play baseball (check out the results against England on the news page).
2. Explaining why Welshmen don’t play tennis.
3. Explaining who New Saints are, and why they’re in the Europa League Qualifiers.
In other summers, it might not be New Saints, but Airbus Broughton providing the opportunities for football fans to travel further afield than usual. What could be better than to visit a ground that boasts The Runway End? Airbus are part of a great British tradition, the factory sports team, long lost at the highest level in British sport, along.
I have a deep affection for factory teams – the first rugby side I played for was a former factory team, where the older players still harked back to the works team days.
Sports teams names after companies takes us back, of course, to The New Saints, or Total Network Systems, as they were once known. They weren’t the company team, just a team named after a company.
The topical element of this story, of course is the disaster at Bosley yesterday, with four men trapped inside the remains of a wood treatment plant. No summer sport is more English, or more lovely, than tug of war, and in the pantheon of English tug of war clubs Wood Treatment Bosley stand proud. This is another England outside the M25, an England of village shows and beer tents, and small towns with a factory on the edge of town that has been the focus of employment for decades, an England with community at the forefront.
Then, suddenly, the factory is gone, and the factory team is just a rumour, a folk memory in the history of a football or rugby or tug of war team. The boys of summer, their laughter and their smiles, are buried in the ruins.
We don’t know yet why the wood mill at Bosley exploded; that it was a catastrophic health and safety failure goes without saying, yet it feels like it has to be said. Good health and safety is expensive, and a permanent cost to the business. The alternative is that the boys of summer may not go home.