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Swans flying to new destinations after victory over Arsenal

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THE Liberty Stadium on Tuesday (Jan 30) saw Swansea take on Champions League hopefuls Arsenal with the charismatic Arsene Wenger, the longest serving manager in the Premier League barking instructions from the dug out.at his team.

The ‘Venga’ boys were out but it was the enthusiastic home crowd who were up for ‘the party’ from kick off.

Referee Mason dished out 3 yellow cards, all to the visitors as the greasy surface drew many rash challenges leaving Mason little time to dream of ‘heading to Ibiza’, a destination the Dutch based Vengaboys’ hit single from 1999 made famous.

Wenger the manager has thumped around in the top echelon of English football for over two decades, winning seventeen trophies during his tenure, including a double in 2003/4 when his ‘invincible side’ went through the season unbeaten, the first time it had been done since Preston North end did it 115 years before.

The Frenchman has calibre and panache and his ability unquestioned from the time he replaced Bruce Rioch, although his side arrived winless away from the Emirates in 2018, with new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan named as substitute.

Carlos Carvalhal, in stark contrast, had been defeated just once in his seven game-reign since arriving two days after he was sacked by Sheffield Wednesday in December, a side the Swans could potentially face for a place in the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup if they overcome Notts County in next week’s replay.

The all whites started with a spring in their step, Nathan Dyer creating a half chance for Jordan Ayew inside ten minutes and another when he sprung a fizzing cross to Alfie Mawson at the far post, whose effort was blocked by a combination of former Cardiff City midfielder Arron Ramsey and goalkeeper Petr Czech.

Dyer was an outlet and consistently in space as the all blue away kitted ‘Gunners’ took a while to settle on the front foot despite two thirds possession, escaping again when Leroy Fer put Sam Clucas clear only for Mohammed Elneny to make a goal saving tackle and Ki Sung drove inches wide from 25 meters out. Wenger sat calm and collected in the dugout, having seen it all before whilst Carvalhal prowled with gusto, driving his side forward in a proud blue anorak.

Football is a game studied by many and absorbed by even more, with Wenger an author of his own book of football management, popular in Japan where he managed Nagoya Grampus before he was enticed to London. The written word meant little as Ayew put centre half Mike Van der Hoorn racing away and the innovative corners that followed fell on fallow land.

Lucas Fabianski saved from Alex Awobi at the other end, Ayew miscued a chance he created with a run from the halfway line before the opening goal on 32 minutes moved Wenger from his seat, as a delicate chip from Mesut Ozil to the far post saw full back Nacho Monreal ghost in unopposed.

The lead lasted just a minute, as Mawson beautifully slid in a pass for Clucas to drive the equaliser low passed Czech at his near post, greeted by a volcanic eruption of Hymns and Arias. A pop group genre these supporters do not aspire to be, settled on a mantra for dulcet harmony which stirs the emotion of anyone present, Welsh obviously but even the most patriotic Englishmen would be hard pressed not to have a lump in their throat.

Five minutes before the break Fer broke from midfield and held off the attention of three players before tamely shooting into Czechs waiting hands, Ayew aside him with the goal at his mercy. Boom, boom, boom forced Wenger up, hands gesturing in frustration at both the pace of the subdued visitors play and technical execution.

Swansea work rate off the ball was unquestionable, breezing with freedom when on the front foot as their seven shots in the first half testified when fourth official Roger East signalled a minute of extra time, under no duress from the TV Broadcasters tonight.

The half time music aptly blasted out the David Bowie classic ‘we can be heroes, just for one day’ to greet the players reappearance, where the Premier Leagues bottom side first half performance belied their precarious position.

Mawson has become the drum master for the home side and for the second home game on the bounce they had more than parity against sides chasing Champions League places. Clucas saw his headed opportunity go wide after a pin point cross from Kyle McNaughton where the Swans tactics of a 4-3-3 formation, allowed a spirit to attack.

Both Managers had attacking forces warming up, Arsenal including want a way striker Oliver Giroud in the company of Mkhitaryan, as Mason produced the yellow card out for the first time to Elneny.

An hour into the game and Mkhitaryan replaced Elneny but was powerless as the stadium erupted once more, this time to ‘who are you’ when Ayew struck for a 2-1 lead, rolling in a gift from goalkeeper Czech whose feet got caught under 6’5” frame.

Czech was nervous, flapping in his goal unlike the ‘Big Pole’ who now had a watching brief as the Swans faithful were living the dream and Dyer’s left foot shot beat Czech but not the upright with 20 minutes to play.

Héctor Bellerín went into the referee’s notebook for a naughty foul on Ayew and the Arsenal frustration was compounded when Ozil talked himself into the same book. Wenger’s credibility was on the line as he threw on Giroud, for possibly his last Arsenal appearance, for Awobi with a quarter of an hour remaining in an intense and absorbing encounter.

Ten minutes remaining and still Fabianski remained untroubled, Dyer left to wide acclaim from the stands and high fives from his management team, with Tom Carroll entering the fray. Mawson continued to marshal the assistant referees’ offside signals as the game entered its final phases,

Three points were Swansea’s when Carroll took on Dyers mantle, releasing Ayew who drove into the penalty box and Clucas pinged a right foot shot into the net. A clapping Bony came on for Ayew and the home side were out of the bottom three and the relegation zone for the first time since November, with Routledge coming on for man of the match Clucas in injury time.

The ‘Tinkerman’ Carvalhal has gone from intensive care to the maternity ward at Morriston Hospital as the Club have been reborn. Could Ibiza be the promised land for Swansea? The plane has certainly taken off from Wenger Airways, possibly heading to West Virginia, as that’s where ‘Jacks; belong when they can’t ‘help falling in love’.

The next port of call is Leicester City on Saturday (Feb 3) before Burnley arrive at the Liberty Stadium the week after.

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Primary Schools Cross Country returns after three-year absence

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THE 33rd edition of the Carmarthenshire Primary Schools Cross Country Championships returned for the first time in three years on Thursday evening, September 29, 2022.

Organised by Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club and supported by Carmarthenshire County Council, the 2022 race moved to a new Carmarthenshire venue at Pembrey Country Park situated between Burry Port and Kidwelly. Prior to 2022, the United Counties Showground in Carmarthen had been the location for three decades.

Several runners have highlighted this event as the start of their running careers that have led to professional contracts and representing Great Britain internationally.

It gave youngsters in four primary school year groups the opportunity to get involved in running and enjoy the race experience alongside their school friends, whether they were experienced club runners or trying out cross country for the very first time.

Approximately 1,200 runners from over forty Carmarthenshire primary schools competed in the evening sunshine.

Watched on by hundreds of parents, family members and teachers, eight races were on offer with the year 3 and year 4’s completing 1km whilst the year 5 and year 6 races were over 1 mile. There were between 100-150 finishers across each year group.

Held on Monks Field within the park next to the National Closed Cycling Circuit and Ski Centre, competitors ran along fast grass and hill sections.

Individual and team awards were presented to the first five in each race and the winning school team in each year group combined – Ysgol Iau Llangennech (Year 3), Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 4), Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 5) and Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 6).

Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to pupils from twenty two schools on the podium.

Top 3 positions:

Year 3 Girls: 1 Erin Jones (Carreg Hirfaen), 2 Farah Bowen (Llangynnwr), 3 Evie Issac (Swiss Valley)

Year 3 Boys: 1 Daniel James (Rhys Pritchard), 2 Gruff Davies (Rhys Pritchard), 3 Eligh Youngman (Iau Llangennech)

Year 4 Girls: 1 Zara Phillips (Rhys Pritchard), 2 Erin Bowen (Llangynnwr), 3 Mared Lili Rees (Y Dderwen)

Year 4 Boys: 1 Steffan James (Y Dderwen), 2 Elgan John (Y Bedol), 3 Zyiah Onoh (Mynydd Y Garreg)

Year 5 Girls: 1 Gwenno Jones (Nantgaredig), 2 Emilia Matthews (Pontyberem), 3 Elsie Davies (Saron)

Year 5 Boys: 1 Jasper Davis (Llandovery College), 2 Tai Jones (Y Bedol), 3 Tyler Greggory (Bro Banw)

Year 6 Girls: 1 Manon Phillips (Peniel), 2 Megan Evans (Cynnwyl Elfed), 3 Olwen Williams (Y Dderwen)

Year 6 Boys: 1 Tomos Cai Davies (Y Dderwen), 2 Miles Hayhurst (Ferryside), 3 Jayden Fergus (Saron)

The top 10 individuals in each school year can be viewed here: https://www.carmarthenharriers.co.uk/latest/carmarthenshire-primary-schools-cross-country-championships-2022-makes-a-welcome-return-to-the-county-pembrey-country-park/

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Carmarthenshire man with PTSD to run Cardiff Half for veterans

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A VETERAN from Pont-Henri in Carmarthenshire is putting his best foot forward to supporting wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans.

Anthony Spencer, 34 – who suffers with PTSD after serving two tours of Afghanistan – will be on the start-line of the Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon on 2 October.

And while he laughs at his “abysmal” training ahead of the event, he says he will pound the streets of Cardiff in order to raise money for True Heroes Racing – the UK’s only motorcycle race team dedicated to supporting UK Service personnel and veterans who are wounded, injured and sick:

“As a military veteran myself who still suffers with PTSD, I understand the difficulty that face those who leave the military with mental, physical or social difficulties. True Heroes Racing is a family open to anyone with military ties and I’m hoping to raise much-needed funds to continue my support for this great cause.”

Spencer joined the military as a Royal Engineer when he turned 16:

“Over the course of my career in the army, I was involved in many incidents. I was part of a frontline patrol unit working with the Afghanistan National Army.

“Perhaps the most catastrophic event was a roadside IED – an improvised explosive device – in Helmand province. It hit me a year or two later and I started drinking more and I was becoming more distant and reserved.

“Even now, it affects me. It impacts on my sleep – I only get a few hours here and there a night. And it affects my anxiety levels which make tasks such as travelling incredibly stressful. Loud noises and day-to-day stresses can seem unbearable.”

He was discharged in 2016 and since then he has thrown himself into work. Now a Chief Technical Officer for a Global Technology company.

“I managed to get a successful job. After having a rough ride of things myself but coming out the other end, I decided to try and do something good.

“There isn’t much support for veterans – medical or financial – so what this race team does is absolutely astonishing. We currently have two riders who are amputees and they are both racing at incredibly high competitive levels against able-bodied riders.”

The bikes are customised so that riders who have disabilities can race:

“The customisation is ground-breaking. We have a variety of veterans and serving personnel racing including an arm amputee so True Heroes Racing have been able to adapt the bike for him. But it all comes at a cost. Racing is an expensive sport and in many cases it can cost £40,000 or more per year to run a bike.

“We’re one big family and lots of people can get involved whether it’s as a mechanic, a photographer, a rider or helping to sell merchandise. It’s a great thing to throw your energy into after leaving the military.”

You can donate to Anthony’s  Justgiving page here: Crowdfunding to Raise vital money for a great cause http://trueheroesracing.co.uk. A unique team for military veterans and serving personal on JustGiving

The Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon sold out earlier this summer, just three and half months after entries going on sale.

The race is on track to generate its £20 millionth pound in fundraising at the 19th edition of the event this year. Race organisers are urging the public to get behind the event to help it reach this incredible milestone. Over £3 million is raised each year via partnerships with over 90 charities.

A record number of runners from outside Wales (both across the UK and overseas) are registered to take part this year. To celebrate, organisers will be using the event as a platform to celebrate Wales; showcasing everything that is so special and distinct about Cymru and to offer visitors a warm Welsh welcome.

The race is now a part of the SuperHalfs – an international half marathon series including races in Lisbon, Prague, Valencia, Copenhagen and Cardiff. It challengers runners to complete the five race circuit in 36 months in order to earn a ‘SuperMedal’ and other exclusive benefits/prizes.

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Old Gold earn big win over Ynyshir

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CARMARTHEN put the disappointment of the defeat against Barry Town in their last Cymru South League match well and truly behind them by inflicting this crushing victory on Ynyshir in this first ever meeting between these clubs.

And the Old Gold put the hosts under pressure from the very start with a series of penetrating attacks. As early as the 1st minute Greg Walters, in his own half, sent a superb pass through to Will Rikard who in turn set Noah Daley racing clear and into the penalty area – however, while his subtle lofted shot defeated goal-keeper Howe the ball flew narrowly over the bar.

Then on 3 minutes Bradley Gibbings sprinted along the right flank and threaded the ball through to Liam Thomas just inside the penalty area but Town’s all-time top scorer saw his crisp drive denied by Howe diving swiftly down to claim the ball.

Town continued to dominate these early stages of the game and, almost predictably, they soon took the lead. In the 13th minute Thomas, from the half-way line, sent a fine pass forward to Rikard who in turn swiftly fed the ball onto Gibbings – the influential midfielder then finished this delightful move by drilling a 15-yard shot beyond Howe’s reach and into the back of the net.

While the Old Gold maintained their hold of the game, for a short spell they seemed unable to test the Ynyshir defence in any meaningful way and with both teams too often guilty of misplacing passes there was little prospect of goalmouth action.

Yet that all changed after 37 minutes. A poor back-pass by an Albions’ defender forced Howe into making a hurried clearance – however Thomas, alert to the situation, blocked the ball at close-range and it rebounded into the net much to his delight.

Encouraged by that success Carmarthen once more began to dominate the play and on 43 minutes they extended their lead. Mathew Delaney embarked on a determined run from the half-way line to reach the by-line before sending a fine cross into the goalmouth where Thomas found space to drive the ball past Howe and into the back of the net.

Then after 45 minutes Gibbings made a strong run into the penalty area and held off two defenders before releasing a fierce shot that Howe, dropping smartly down, managed to turn around the post.

After the interval Ynyshir began positively and were soon rewarded with an early goal. On 48 minutes a smart passing move from the right-wing opened up the Town defence and finished with Cambell, in clear space on the edge of the goal area, firing the ball past goal-keeper Ivan Knott and into the back of the net.

For a spell the Old Gold defence remained under some pressure but it coped capably and no further significant threat to their goal arose.

While the rest of the match was quite evenly-balanced in open play, it was evident that Carmarthen were far more of a threat in sight of goal – and, almost predictably, they extended their lead when on 59 minutes Delaney, from the left flank, sent an inviting free-kick across the face of the goal area and saw Daley, at the far post, tap the ball into the net.

Town went close to scoring again after 71 minutes. Adam John fired a free-kick deep into the goalmouth where Lee Surman saw his close-range header blocked on the goal-line – the ball rebounded to Sam Parsons but his follow-up shot was also cleared.

However, the late frenzy of activity in and around the Albions’ penalty area did have a productive ending for the Old Gold when, deep into added time, another corner-kick reached Scott Tancock beyond the far post – he headed the ball back into the packed goalmouth where Parsons forced it into the net.

This win has consolidated Carmarthen’s position in the top six of the Cymru South League and with just 3 points currently separating those clubs every point from forthcoming matches is clearly vital – the next being against Afan Lido on October 1, at Richmond Park k/o 2.30pm.

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