A nice day in Cardiff

9 09 2007
Wales 0 Germany 2
Euro 2008 Qualifier

Just before we pulled into Cardiff Central I glanced out of the window, there were an awful lot of policemen hanging around. As I walked from the station I saw several Police vans stationed at the end of Westgate Street. As I travelled down the boulevard of broken dreams my reverie was interrupted by singing Germans and I looked up. They were corralled into into a side street by the police. I hadn’t realised that there was going to be trouble. Considering the police presence most of the street was deserted.

As I turned into Cathedral Road the contrast couldn’t have been greater; you’d struggle to think that there was an international football match being played just around the corner.

My hotel’s landlady warned me that there was a group celebrating a 21st birthday. On the scale of warnings that I’ve received it wasn’t very high up, I’d been 21, I know what happens. After a quick wash I was off. I decided to go against protocol and wear my Bangor Polo Shirt, although it is red. I hoped I wouldn’t bump into any German Rhyl fans, it might go “off” big time.

After a short stroll into town I was outside the City Arms and surrounded by familiar faces. Rhys was looking resplendent in the mid 1980s Welsh Shirt, the holy grail for Welsh fans. Incidentally I’d have been wearing a retro shirt if the company had’ve managed to sort it out in time, the Hummel one in case you were wondering. Ian was wearing a coat, paradoxically, I though it was hot. Some drinks, some conversations with Germans, some conviviality and a sighting of Gruff Rhys were the fruits of this hour.

Just as I’d made my way into the Millennium I bumped into a Bangor reserve, Caio, and we stopped for a chat. I made my way over the crest of the steps and I was greeted by a multitude of empty seats. I looked at the German fans and was greeted by a multitude of coloured banners, representing nearly every German club. I found a place for the flag and went back to my place. Truthfully, I didn’t actually go back to my place, I went where I felt. Martin and his mate saw me and soon made their way up to my empty section.

After the anthems there was a minute’s silence for Byron Stevenson, unfortunately not observed by some Germans. The next thing that caught my attention was other people being distracted. Something was happening near the German fans. The police were getting involved; they were holding people back on both sides. Fans appeared to be climbing up. I knew that some of the fans who tended to go in this section could be less than genteel so I presumed that was the cause. It died down after a bit.

While my attention wandered Germany scored. Klose slipped the ball home. The move looked so easy. After all the build up of hope it had taken roughly 5 minutes for me to fear for the evening’s proceedings.

Thankfully I wouldn’t be worrying that much as Wales looked to be holding their own if terms of possession. Unfortunately they didn’t manufacture much that could have troubled mad Jens. The absence of Bellamy probably meant that the creating and the taking of chances would be something on the back burner tonight. The first half finished with a feeling of unconvinced hope.

The second half went on around me. I gained the feeling that although Germany only scored 1 more goal they could have scored any time they felt like it. The second German goal came as a result of Bale’s mistake. After it went in all hope left the building.

The German fans began to sing a strange sounding ditty after the goal. I could only make out a quiet part followed by a loud part, followed by the quiet part again, then the loud part, etc etc etc. It went on for a few minutes and it was quite impressive; they did it in unison. Celebrating away fans are the last thing you want to see when your team has lost without the other team trying too hard.

After the game I met a German Groundhopper who spoke perfect English, he seemed to have more social skills than your average British example. Outside the City Arms I was chatting to a couple of fans; anger wasn’t widely felt. As we chatted we were being surrounded. The first sign was a line of Police, then some German Police wearing blue bibs arrived, the police were filming, then we noticed some “top boys” milling around. I felt on edge for 10 minutes. Suddenly the Police left and we could all relax. I had a look for Ian or Rhys but couldn’t find them so I went for something to eat. Some more Germans had been corralled into a side street. After food was purchased a leisurely walk back to the hotel followed.

On Sunday I was eating my breakfast when my peace was shattered. The people celebrating the 21st birthday were at my service. The landlady was right after all. They were noisy, inconsiderate bastards; loud conversations were punctuated by swearing. They had the demeanour of private school pupils. After I’d had my shower I could see that they thought they were in a great rock cliches reenactment society; mattresses were slung into the corridor, music blared, loud tuneless singing was belted out. I found myself thinking; “Am I turning into an old fart?”. I decided that I wasn’t, they were twats. It was SUNDAY MORNING!!!!

I caught the train at 11:30. Not really notable, trains tend to leave stations several times a day. What was notable was the fact that Meic Stevens was sitting opposite me on the train and he offered me some strawberries! After that all I had to put up with was some tossers talking too loudly and singing a song about World War 2. Thankfully they got of the train at Shrewsbury and we had peace for the rest of the way home.

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