One point needed. One lousy point. And there are two chances to get that point: away to Bosnia and home to Andorra…
Oh please dear Lord in whom I don’t believe at all, oh please almighty God who is just a figment of the human imagination, oh please Ming the Merciless, I’m down on bended knee, please show some bloody mercy for once in your non-existent life and let us have that fucking point in Bosnia – because I don’t think I will cope if it all comes down to Andorra.
The football team of the landlocked micro-state with a population not much bigger than Wrecsam stands 202nd (out of 209, the worst side in Europe) in the FIFA world rankings, has only ever won one competitive game (1-0 at home to Macedonia in 2004) and is universally treated as nothing more than an easy-meat opportunity to improve goal difference. Even a draw against Andorra would be a terrible result; but that would be just fine since it would be enough. A defeat however, in these circumstances, after these six decades of waiting, would amount to the biggest pratfall in footballing history, would ensure Welsh humiliation from the Atlantic to the Urals, and would be a blow of such shocking devastation that Welsh football would surely be finished for all time as a working proposition. Therefore, if Wales still require a draw when it comes to the Andorra game on October 13th we would be faced with a football match that really was a matter of life and death, to ricochet the subversive wit and wisdom of the great Bill Shankly (1913-1981). And whenever any sport is freighted with such crushing importance ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. What if Wales have someone sent off? What if Bale is injured? What if Andorra score a freaky breakaway goal? What if the ref doesn’t bring his white stick and guide dog? What then? Tell me! What then?
This is a scary precipice I don’t want to peer over for a moment longer: I don’t like what I’m seeing down there. Of course I won’t need to, should the boys do a job in Zenica on October 10th. In that event, the Andorra game will be a deliciously irrelevant stroll in the park and we’ll put six past them (Bale hat-trick). But…but…here come the buts butt…it’s never easy at their place, the fans pour down from the coal-mining Valleys and they’re like an extra man, they’ll set out their stall early doors and hoof it into Row Z, Edin Džeko is on fire (the diacritic mark ˇ is called a caron, most of the Bosnian squad’s names boast at least one and it’s a right nuisance to insert – not that I’m complaining; I like diacritics; in fact I am often called one…), those East European sides are crack outfits, Bosnian boss Baždarević is a Welsh bogeyman, and one more thing: the Herzegovinian (notice how that word rhymes with ‘ninian’ – oh-oh, ominous portent alert!) is always a wily opponent…guffaw, guffaw. And it’s not as though Bosnia have nothing to play for: if they beat Wales they can overhaul Israel in 3rd place and so make the play-offs. Incidentally, Wales are now guaranteed at worst a place in the play-offs – but getting to the play-offs after losing to Andorra would be like, I don’t know, going up to receive the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in front of millions of live TV viewers and having an explosive, projectile, uncontrollable diarrhoea and vomiting episode just as Billy Crystal hands over the statuette (poor analogy Dic. It would be much more like getting to the play-offs after losing to Andorra). I must stop this.
Down these twisting pathways madness lies. Along these nightmarish tracks zombies lurk.
The City Hall clock strikes midnight through the cool, still, autumn air.
It will be fine. It will be fine.
I hope you’re right Mum.