About an hour before kick-off I was surprised to find myself sobbing uncontrollably for reasons I couldn’t quite understand. I had waited 58 years for this moment, and yet it was proving much too momentous for me to handle. I kept thinking of all the friends who had lived and died during those six decades, all the great Welsh players, fans and patriots who had never had this experience, all the unfulfilled promises, all the broken hearts, all the shattered dreams. To sedate and calm me, I was put on an emergency course of treatment: huge slugs of the fine single malt Malc had bought me for my birthday. Yes, June 11th was also my birthday.
The whisky worked a treat and by the time the game began I was as drunk as a dipsomaniac in a distillery – and thus able to revel in the sensational, thrilling, incredible 90 minutes that then unfolded before my tear-sodden eyes.
What can I say? Words fail me. I have never had a birthday like it. It doesn’t get better than this. Surely it can’t get better than this? Every single Welsh player was superb. We looked completely at home on the international stage. The match was gripping entertainment of the highest quality from start to finish, easily the best in the tournament so far, culminating in a tremendous and so very deserved victory against a shit-hot Slovakia team. And, after England’s 1-1 draw with Russia, we’re top of the Group B table!
If that were not enough, our friendly, sporting, joyous fans were magnificent ambassadors for Wales, effortlessly showing the world our intrinsic humanity, humility, good nature and internationalist fraternity, while also delivering spontaneous, spine-tingling renditions of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and Calon Lân that, in front of the biggest audience ever to hear them, were the finest versions of these archetypal Welsh anthems yet sung at a live event. The contrast with the vile belligerence, thuggery, xenophobia and sheer nastiness and ignorance of English fans over three days and nights of mayhem in Marseille could not be starker. Here, in real time, real world, multi-dimensional actuality, was the clearest possible evidence that Wales and England are profoundly different, deep down to the very bone marrow. Put simply: we stand for peace and amity, they stand for war and hate. This fact, now being acted out for all the world to see, must quickly proceed to the realisation among all Welsh people of good faith that there is no reason for us to be shackled to this imperialistic, blood-soaked, toxic disgrace called England/Britain (delete as appropriate, the two words are exact synonyms – as the ‘British’ media’s coverage of the tournament confirms). Why the hell would any sane people want to be tainted by association with and tarred with the same brush as the scum of the earth? Forget Brexit: what Wales urgently needs is a Wexit/Cymexit from the truly corrupt, undemocratic, divisive and overweening superstate called the UK. Only then, as a free and independent people, will we be able to associate in harmony and co-operation with the other free and independent peoples of this small, fragile planet and thereby help change this wicked, stricken world.
Next we must face England in Lens on Thurday then Russia in Toulouse next Monday. These will be the most important sporting occasions in Welsh history, making every routine rugby grand slam or piddling Olympic medal pale into total insignificance. On top of this, the political/cultural/social sub-texts are so freighted with meaning and overloaded with significance that I’m not sure if the weight is bearable. Little Wales, which has never invaded or hurt anyone, abused, downtrodden, exploited, impoverished little Wales, up against the two most appallingly aggressive nations ever to have stalked the Earth…the most absolute touchstone of David v Goliath and indeed Good v Evil ever to have taken to a football stadium – and we’ve got to do it twice! One thing is certain: every neutral everywhere will be rooting for Wales.
Assuming I have not had a massive heart attack by then, watch this space for my Wales/England report. Now, where’s the tramadol…