Russia. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
Two thousand of us. Fantastic. Gorky Park's about to host the best snowball fight ever. On behalf of the 1927 Club, your correspondent challenges every other mob in Wales to mega-throwathon.
Let's face it, in this season from hell that's about all we've got to look forward to isn't it?
Seems to me that Welsh football
is like a lover with a multiple personality. One minute charmingly
attractive, inspiring lifelong devotion - you're smitten and it's
the best sex, er I mean football, that you've ever had.
Gives you a tingly spine, warm glow and you repeatedly rerun Simon Davies goals in your mental DVD player. Mmmmmmm, nice.
But within a year, maybe you hitched up with a ball-breaker or a bastard? You're on a make-or-break date in Moscow. And it's bliss or oblivion. Noin-betweens.
Oh my God what went wrong? Easy, first of all we were too cautious in Serbia. And then in two consecutive home games the players who impress most are Rhys Weston and Darren Barnard - don't wanna be rude but they're Nationwide journeymen. Quite simply, and of course there were some mitigating circumstances, the Premiership players haven't pulled their weight when it came to the crunch. We only reached second through an outrageous handball by Simon Davies.
Hope? Maybe there's a shred of a glimmer of a chink. All I can think of is Russia were second to Switzerland. As Orson Welles sneered: "Switzerland had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
Don't tell me the Swiss are any cop at footie - nobody's gonna buy that. Therefore if they're no good, the logical conclusion is the Ruskies ain't so good. That's one of only two straws worth clutching at.
The other one is that at least we were better against Serbia than in the Finland fiasco. But the best moment was easily the girly squabble between Bellamy and Hartson when outright ownership of the ball was in dispute after the penalty award. Half-expected Mark Hughes to come on in World of Sport wrestling-style to grunt: "Break."
When Darren Barnard's left foot started taking more outrageous potshots than Ronnie Sullivan and even Weston lashes in a screamer that would have blown up the Holiday Inn if the keeper hadn't saved you're back in scary, lairy land. Weston's shot, unlikely as it was, was virtually the weirdest moment of the campaign. It was a nasty shock. Thank God he missed, it would have stretched my credulity. But at least the Nationwide lads showing the Premiership fat cats what is required.
Half-time was the weirdest experience of all though for this fan, who started selling the Dragon Has Landed fanzine in the north stand. Selling like hot cakes. Well, tepid cakes.
After 10 minutes a steward came up the stairs to the entrance to the stand and shouted out: "Oh God, don't do this to me. Get out of the stand and go and sell them somewhere else." He then started frantically pointing across his body at the mouth of the exit.
I thought he was joking and started smiling because he looked ridiculous jerking his arm rapidly - so I continued to talk to a fellow Welsh sufferer, easing his pain.
The shouting continued. "Oi, you! Get out." The pointing became so animated he looked like he was doing the polka. Or his techno moves for when they have a post-bingo disco at his local rugby club. I laughed again, safe in the knowledge he was joking - I had after all sold the fanzine in the same spot at games at least twice before with no problems from the lovely Millennium Stadium stewards.
He advanced and spat out: "Gotta licence?"
"No, so what?"
"If you haven't you've got one you've got to get out. Get out." (More pointing.)
"But my seat is here, three yards away. This is my seat." (Moved to seat).
He was now pointing to the exit as if I was dog who'd poohed on the kitchen floor and had to be punished. Was he about to throw me some Bonio biscuits?
He shouted, glowering at me like he'd just met Carlos the Jackal: "Oi, talk to me, Oi, talk to me. Come here. Come here."
I simply said: "No."
It was the sort of clash that if you'd had it in the pub you either punch him or walk away. Well, not me. In my case I'd have run away or pretended to be physically handicapped and simple (friends assure me this is the impression I give off anyway.)
He then left, looking like he was about to summon the US 3rd Infantry as reinforcements. And cheers to Iwan from Aberteifi for suggesting I skedaddle pronto and find another seat. I took up with some friendly gogs who started pointing at me.
Ten minutes with the Anglesey
posse (sample chant "Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, running down
the wing; Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, hates ethnic cleansing.")
and I was close to going back to my original seat to face Hermann
Goering, a one-man lynch mob. He apparently returned with another
stone-faced henchman and, who knows, a rope.This fan had heard
stories about stewards before but
always from drunks so they were never entirely believed. Now I believe them.
So the second half was a blur,
spent reflecting on Wales over the last two months - Frogmarched
round Belgrade and nearly killed by a drink-driving Miss World
(see elsewhere on site); chased down the road in Milan (seeelsewhere)
by scumbag Italians; crapped on by the players in the Finland
disaster that made me seriously question whether it was worth
it. And now, shame to end all shames, chased out of my own seat
to avoid a stinking steward hell-bent on terrorising a middle-aged
berk who hadn't even had a
drink and who regards the stadium as his spiritual home. It's only half a mile from where I was born. A fellow Welshman scared me more than 5,000 mindless Milanese morons. What's going on?
Anyway, here's the theory. Welsh football is being devoured by an auto-immune disease and is turning against itself. The players caught it out in Serbia, took it to Milan, where the Italians could see it in our eyes and threw bottles to keep us away from them (they were being nice to us really). The players then got it real bad against Finland. Even badder on Saturday. And now the bloody stewards are turning on their own kind. Next month they're bringing machine-guns.
Now it's our turn. As if we haven't
suffered enough already. The finale will be on November 19. After
losing 5-0, those of us who survive the machine-gunning will see
green acidic slime ooze up from the concrete, engulfing us in
seconds. The stadium roof will open and there'll be a
hologram of a snickering Bobby Gould, dressed like the Angel Gabriel, and the last words we'll hear will be: "See, you shouldn't have got rid of me,"
Anyone want my ticket?
Fan of the week:
When a bloke catches a train from Minsk to Berlin and then flies in to see a game with nothing at stake, there's no competition. Barmy
Belarussion boy Alex Zyl (Believe me he's a nutcase - he even enjoyed the under-21 match in Barry.) assures the site that if he'd asked his boss for a week off so he could go and see football in Wales he would not have got permission. Instead the killer line that got him a week over here was: "Boss, I need a week off to go there because I'm have to attend a Welsh language forum." Da iawn wir, bachgen.
Another bad moment:
The middle-aged bloke next to me had a nose with more craters than a Baghdad bunker. His knee-trembling (no jokes please) was so
violent that I thought was gonna catch Parkinson's off him. He was like a human earthquake and I felt I was sitting on jelly. He didn't stop all
bloody game. Any advice on how to cope a persecution complex can be sent to
the email address below.