If you're fed up to the back teeth of hearing about England's World Cup heroics so far, remember that, from the Welsh point of view, were some cherished nuggets to treasure on the road to inevitable humiliation and oblivion. Why do we watch Wales? It can only be for moments like these.
Fan of the millennium:
This person has seen all ten under-21 matches. That takes nerve, a strong constitution an ability to stomach one of European football's worst statistics and ... an addled brain perhaps? After 19 games straight - all under-21 matches and nine qualifiers Neil Dymock, Bryntirion Athletic's greatest fan, decided to watch the Belarus home game in the bar. So he missed the only one game we won out of 20. Banzai salutes the groundhoppers' groundhopper. Obviously a Jonah. Please stop coming to matches.
Second is the bloke who does dragonsoccer.co.uk website. This is a lifesaving site for all us exiles living on the wrong side of Offa's Dyke. Where else can we find out who's in the under-21 squad and then ruminate about who on earth these players are? Hours of endless fascination.
Cheers Neil Roberts for helping many of us survive a miserable life in the barren Third World desert called England.
Andy Melville. The defence, more or less, have done their jobs reasonably well. If only we had a consistent left-back we might have scraped a win or two.
If you'd said we would have conceded 12 goals in the 10 games then you'd have settled for that. Key misses by Giggs, Roberts and Bellamy and a shot-shy midfield have been the main factors in the lack of victories.
We heartily recommend Smuget in Oslo. But top of the list is Club 111 in Kiev. Anywhere that plays Elvis Presley, James Brown, Motorhead and 'Hit the Road Jack' in succession and then offers to play The Exploited as recompense for not having any Clash records has to be a clear winner.
At Club 111 in Kiev while standing at the snazzy revolving bar, we turned to find a couple apparently engaged in a contest to eat each other. Looking more closely we saw Wrexham Romeo Stuart locking lips with a Ukrainian belle in what can only be described as the most ferocious kiss we've ever seen. It was like two tigers necking. He explained later: "I kissed her once and she told me she liked it rough so I got stuck in."
This was definitely Southampton goalkeeper Paul Jones who persuaded a girl to wrap her legs round him on the dance floor at Oslo's Smuget club, for a hot clinch. How do I know? I was dancing on a slightly raised tier right next to him. As they grappled, I even ruffled Jonesy's hair to put him off his stride. Tee-hee.
Cowboy of Treorchy ("My name's Wayne John - John Wayne, see, so everyone calls me Cowboy") in Yerevan."We're in the fucking easiest group we've had for fucking years - fucking Ukraine, fucking Poland, fucking Armenia, fucking Norway and fucking Belarus. We should be fucking top of the fucking table against these fucking bastards."
Best quote because it is absolutely true.
Best Echo bollocks:
It informed us in September that Wales drew 1-1 against the Ukraine in June in Cardiff. So what game was I watching in Kiev then?
Walking out of Dinamo Kiev's club stadium after the u-21s lost 1-0. Soaked to the skin carrying a flag which weighs a ton because it mopped up half the rain in the stadium and I stupidly didn't take it down.
Joe Bloggski: Hey mister, you Cardiff City fan?
Joe Bloggski (shouts orgasmically as if he's just won the lottery):
Oooooooooooooooooooliga-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ans!!!!!!!!!!!! Cardiff City.
Me: 'Fraid not.
JB (still shouting, jabbering excitedly): Oooooliga-a-a-a-a-a-a-ans here?
JB (almost dribbling): Where oooooooolig-a-a-a-a-a-a-ans?
Me (thinking 'Jest effing eff off will you?'): Not here.
JB: Swap shirt, mister. Where oooligans? Coming tomorrow?
Me (screaming): Taxi! Taxi!
Most obscure email response
Cheers to Huw Davies for this one:
"While reading your article on the under-21 game in Drammen, it occurred to me that Stromsgodset (who play there) is one of the select few football teams to have appeared in a Half Man Half Biscuit song.The track is 'Malayan Jelutong' on the album 'This Leaden Pall'.
According to the song ...'Stromsgodset under-5s did the offy by us...'. If I'd known that Strom.
played in Drammen I'd have gone there and 'done' one of their offies in retaliation."
Next time, Huw, eh?
When he first played for Wales, when Alex Ferguson allowed him to that is, he was like a whippet on heat. Blistering pace, inspirational and a joy to watch. But the dew of youth is on the verge of turning into the dewdrop of old age (for a footie player, that is). He hasn't had an exceptional game for us for maybe three years and he clearly does not enjoy the experience. Watch the video of the friendly against Finland where he had a face like thunder for the national anthems
He's reached the point where he despairs at the quality of service he gets and resents the attitude of some of the team who give him the ball in the hope that he'll perform a miracle.
And he needs to score a goal for us quick. His miss against the Poles was barely credible.
The old farts have had a fair campaign. They backed a singing section at the Millstone Stadium after the Poland match when it should have been okayed beforehand. It could have made a difference. But at least they backed the section.
An Armenian who lives in Pontypridd (honest) wrote claiming we gave a bad impression of Yerevan.
To put the record straight - it was one of the best holidays I've had and I would like to see Wales play there every year.
This is what it's all about. We reprint here the English greeting in the Belarus v Wales programme in the first match of the campaign in Minsk. All the spelling mistakes and phrasings have been left in - it captures the essence of watching football.
"Everything in the Wold of Football is relatively and temporal. Joy is changing by grief, ascents are changing by falls, victories by losses. Only love to football stays permanent because it is a mass game, a game number 1, exciting and unique.
"We are entering a new competition round. The qualification matches of World Cup starts today. Final of this competitions will take place in Japan and South Korean in 2002. Belarus National Team plays home match against Wales National Team.
"Bitterness and annoyance of emotional experience have changed on hope cultivated by faith in unrealized potential of the main team of our country. This faith was born no without reasons - that is the most pleasant. It was restored by new leaders of the National Team, first of all - Chief Coach - Eduard Malofeev.
"All players are filled with responsibility for prestige of Belarus football. Every body is ready to give his mastership and experience in every match. This is an evident step forward as our player do not need to borrow neither mastership nor experience.
"Malofeev is maximalist. He put forward a maximum task in front of the team and in the very qualification tournament.
"Let's start the battle! Let His Majesty Football be triumphant. Let the game be a triumphant. The game, worshiped by million of fans. Let holiday come to Belarus fans!"
Now it's our turn. Let holiday come to Wales fans, so we can reach Portugal 2004.
Cadwch y ffydd