Oh Christ, why do we bother?
This has to be the worst week this fan can remember in 15 years of traipsing round Europe watching Wales. Chased down the road by a psycho with a metal bar in Milan and then put through the mangle by the very players you thought you could rely on.
It was terrible and all the papers missed the story. Which is, top place was there on a silver salver with a victory in Serbia. Pursuit of victory was declined by pant-pooping players in the second half.
Then, with Italy drawing in Belgrade, we were left with this incredible incompetent performance against a side who should have hammered us 4-1. Top place was there on a plate again, and we've chucked it away. That's twice in case you're counting.
We're lucky to be getting a third bite at the cherry let alone a second. And now everyone's bleating about the UEFA seedings and getting distracted. Excuses are coming in early and when, not if, we are knocked out, UEFA will get the blame and not our lack of bottle over the last three weeks.
The fact is - WE SHOULD HAVE ALREADY WON THE GROUP.
The last half hour was purgatory and the play-offs will be even worse. Going through the mind was just the thought: "There's no way we can win any play-off if we play like this."
I'd fancy us to lose to the Faroes. I'd fancy us to lose to the mums of the Faroes. I'd fancy us losing to the bat that flew across the North stand. He was surely trying to get out early to beat the rush at the Old Arcade. Him and 10 of his mates would surely give us problems (especially in the air).
It was terrible times 200. After pigs were sick on us in Milan it was time to feel pig-sick. It was worse than having the epidural for my bad back six years (ooh, that was painful, honest). If we want to feel this bad all the time we can just get a job with a train company. It got me thinking whether I could break into my mum's pharmacy and steal a prescription for Lithium.
The lady from The Sun on the Monday got it right. Her message to the players was simple - stop feeling sorry for yourselves.
Perhaps the infected the Finns with their self-pity. Was I the only person in the ground who wondered why the Finns didn't look too chuffed when they equalised? It was almost an apology for a goal, as if they wanted us to win the group instead of the Italians.
This year we've been lucky to get draws with Bosnia and Finland. We were easily outplayed in the US, Serbia and Italy and only useless Azerbaijan were overcome. 2003 is turning out to be as bad as 2002 was great. Perhaps that's it, we only get one good year - just like Poland did in the 2002 World Cup qualifiers when they qualified on the back of a great start only to fall apart at the seams a year later.
Maybe, as my sister, a good friend and myself ran down a street in Milan we weren't being pursued by a fan intent on maiming us with his weapon. Perhaps it was a messenger of mercy from the football gods. The message was: "I'm here to save you from yourself. Pack Wales in and I won't hammer you. Take up another brain-deadening pastime, like macrame. Or golf. I'm warning you - carry on and I'll break your legs."
Well I'd have chosed the broken legs, obviously. Anything but golf. But even after the Romania defeat and the 7-1 Eindhoven debacle this fan can't remember feeling so disheartened by the result.
Popping back into Cardiff the day after the game, one of the tramps outside the central station was reeling round singing: "Why does it always rain on me."
It seemed spookily apt.
Fan of the day:
Nepotism rules this week. After sis scooped the Milan medal, Uncle Eirwyn from Alltwen gets it. For no other reason than he came to his first Wales international for 40 years, since the glory days of Ivor Allchurch and John Charles merrily mashed Northern Ireland at Ninian Park and a lovely cup of Bovril was 2d. At the end I was too afraid to ask if he would be coming again.
Clearly Jones. But you know your team's been tripe when you notice Rhys Weston stands out. This fan's not rated him before and maybe never will again, but you have to take your hat off to him - he did brilliantly and we missed him after he came off.
Fans' player of the year:
The game fried my brain. But this award, flagged up in the match programme, boggled the mind. I thought it about for 20 minutes and still couldn't decide who to vote for. Perhaps the physio would be the best choice. One player has stood out for me this year - John Oster for his superb display against the Azeris. And he hasn't played since. In the end it was Pembridge for no other reason than he's short and ginger and the world doesn't do enough for short, ginger types.
I hope that whoever wins this award shows humility, donates his crate of Carling to charity and apologises for his performances this year.
There was only one and it was several hours after the game. Up in Clwb Ifor Bach's top floor, without prompting from anyone, the DJ threw burning hot fat into an already fried brain desperately wondering who to vote for in the player of the year award. Years of pursuing the Holy Grail of persuading dumb DJs to play a decent record were swept away. No he didn't spin Agadoo. He banished the cranial crisis by playing London Calling by The Clash.
So maybe there is hope after all.