Before Friday's World Cup qualifier against Scotland I would say I was supremely confident......that we would lose!
   I used to be a dedicated fan, never missing a home game,till the FAW changed their Members' system and it became very complicated when tickets were only allocated through the clubs.
   But with demand low and expectation even lower, it was easy it get them for this game.
   Before the match it was like being in Glasgow not Cardiff. Kilted Scots were everywhere, but mostly outside pubs pints in hand and one lad walked towards town blowing his bagpipes as he went along.
   From out of the Owain Glyndwr a small group of Welsh and Scottish fans linked arms and danced a merry jig, as they chanted - 'We hate England! We hate England! We are the England haters!'
   In Canton it was even more like an invasion, with every pub having the saltire outside, often declaring allegiance to particular clans. One set wore witches' hats above their tartan : the MacCoverns?
   Over a pint of the very best Breconshire brew my Scottish friend, currently living in The Netherlands, informed me that  - according to his language tutor - there was no word for Wales in Dutch. It seemed like a portent.
   Before the game there was more piss flowing through Canton than rainwater. We were outnumbered and overwhelmed, as we surely would be on the field of play.
   In the CCFC Stadium it was the same : they were in the Ninian, Canton and Grand Stands. If it had been the 70s or 80s there would probably have been carnage, but as it was here were two resurgent nations with so much in common ( including struggling football teams!).
   The anthem singing was really strange, with the Scots carrying on with 'Flower of Scotland' even as 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau '  had begun. It wasn't out of disrespect, of course....more like 10 too many pints of Skull Attack!
   The atmosphere was noisy and passionate, so much better than a quarter full Millennium Stadium. I've got too many memories of dreary Internationals there.
   Early on the game failed to live up to the atmosphere. Cymru played neat possession football with Vaughan, Allen and Ramsey holding sway in midfield, yet creating few clear-cut chances. Scotland threatened on the break, with Morrison and Maloney lively on the flanks.
   Yet even somebody who knew little about footie couldn't fail to notice something. Wearing number 11, predominantly left-footed but on the right wing, was a tall athletic player with 'Bale' on his shirt and every time he got the ball he was surrounded by two or three Scots, yet still managed to beat them with ease and pace.
   It all turned on two moments in the first half. This tall lad from Whitchurch, now playing in the Premier for Spurs, caused havoc  and sent over a perfect cross for our Morison to miss with a header, when he should
have scored.
  A goal-kick punt upfield from their keeper McGregor was flicked on by Steven Fletcher for their Morrison to drive in.
   As the game went on and we didn't look like scoring, we became increasingly desperate. 'Has Whitts got a Welsh Gran?' , asked my friend and fellow Bluebird.
   When 'Rambo' (Ramsey) fluffed a one-on-one after a great run, we thought it wasn't to be, although I do recall saying - ' If we get one, then we'll go on to win!'
   There was plenty of controversy in the second half as befits a fixture with a history of dreadful decisions, especially Joe Jordan's handball in '77. Fletcher's perfectly good goal was disallowed for offside and Berra should've been sent off, giving us a penalty. The officials made equally poor decisions for both sides.
   And then, as the game was nearing the end and we were giving up hope, that player Gareth Bale changed everything!
  He won a penalty...rightly so I believe... when he was clipped by Maloney during another of his powerful runs. Took the pen. Bamboozled their goalie.
   With a couple of minutes on the clock, he again showed his sheer class with another surge from midfield and a hammering shot on the run into the corner of the net, giving McGregor no chance. Even as he shot Charlie Adam was shoving him over!
   I cannot recall a game in which one player of world class has had so much of an influence. Certainly Giggs never did it for his country like that.
Though many Scots were aggrieved by decisions I'd say we deserved to win because we had this player who belongs with the stars.

                                           ODE  TO BALE

Gareth Bale flies down the wing
like his feet have got sails
for 'WA-LES!  WA-LES! WA-LES!'

He turns Scotland's defenders
inside out, back to front, upside down,
makes Charlie Adam look like a clown.

Flips McGregor's brain like a pancake
with his incredibly tricky pen ;
beats one, two, three ; then does it again.

Kairdiff boy come home on a wet October night,
his magnificent second just proving
he belongs on another planet ;

the planet of Messi and Ronaldo,
where Pele and Best once lived,
where few players can hope to go.

A place where skill, strength and speed
are the  three elements there
and you breathe excitement instead of air.


11/21/2012 05:03

There are so many different aspects when it comes to this topic. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge on this particular aspect.


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