Wales 1 Belgium 0

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch – from The Milkmaid and Her Pail, a 2,500 year-old Aesop’s Fable.

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings – coined in 1976 by Dan Cook (1926-2008), US basketball reporter on the San Antonio Express-News.

There’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip – an epigram of 4th century Greek poet Palladas.

Rhaid cropian cyn cerdded (Walk before you run) – 18th century Welsh proverb.

Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed – advice in a letter by English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744).

Shit happens – 1980s North Carolina student slang.

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong – aka ‘Murphy’s Law’, named after US aerospace engineer Edward Murphy (1918-1990). 

The whole world has been specifically arranged to cause me maximum distress – obscure Cardiff writer Dic Mortimer, 2015. 

Bearing in mind this store-house of folk wisdom, no Wales fan should yet book tickets for Euro 2016 in France. We’ve still got to get something out of Cyprus in Nicosia in September, keep it tight early doors against Israel in Cardiff three days later, tackle crack East European outfit Bosnia & Herzegovina in October (it’s never easy at their place), and then give 110% to crush minnows Andorra in the final match back in Cardiff – and Johnny Andorran might have something to say about that.

Let’s hypothesize wildly: Wales do the business and qualify for a finals tournament for the first time in 58 years. In that event, you can bet your bottom dollar that England, Northern Ireland and Scotland will qualify too (oddly enough, exactly like the last time Wales qualified for anything in the 1958 World Cup). Thus the ‘British’ media will have the excuse to carry on ignoring Wales as usual, and we will be denied the chance to see what would happen if Wales were the UK’s only representative, as England have so often been. Would supermarkets in Lincoln be selling Wales ephemera? Would pubs in Leicester be decked out in the Draig Goch? Would the Sun carry banner headlines yelling support for “our boys”? Would the Daily Mail urge portentously “Wales expects”? We shall never know.

Taking this line of thought further, the question of what the FAW might do with the enormous windfall that all qualifiers get from UEFA begins to rear its ugly head in my cynical mind. I’ve done the sums. £400 million of UEFA’s total £600 million revenue will be distributed among the 24 qualifiers. Even if Wales get knocked out at the group stage, the FAW is guaranteed an unprecedented £15 million, its biggest ever pay-day. How will it be spent? Long overdue investment in the member clubs of Europe’s most impoverished football pyramid? Or a shiny new HQ for the FAW, perhaps located somewhere with more prestige than a trading estate in Splott? Hmm…it’s a toss-up.

You see? Even I’m doing it. Even I’m making that fatal mistake: optimism. Even I’m assuming it’s all over bar the shouting. Even I’m fantasising about Wales being drawn in a Group with Spain, the Czech Republic and Albania (preferably playing in Nice – there are no direct flights from Cardiff, but I’m driving down earlier in any case and lodging in a sun-bleached Riviera gîte). It’s worse than that: sometimes I even catch myself thinking that it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility for Wales to actually win the bloody Euros outright! Well, Denmark and Greece did it – and, with Gareth Bale on your side, anything’s possible.

He’s an extraordinary person when you really look at him and see beyond the footballer identity with all its trashy trappings. There’s something other-worldly about him, something exotic, something effortlessly yet unassumingly superior. I can only speculate that he gets it from his uncle Chris Pike, a distinguished Starfleet admiral in his time.*

Chris Pike

Chris Pike

*NOTE
In addition he won three championship medals (1996-1998) at Barry Town (46 goals in 82 WPL appearances). His total WPL record was 60 goals in 135 appearances after stints at Cwmbrân Town, Rhayader Town and Llanelli. Pike also played non-league football for Fulham, Cardiff City, Hereford United and Gillingham.

Picture: CBS Studios Inc.