Spaghetti in Bologna

After an inept performance in Zurich against an average Swiss side another away fixture against an Italian team who were, at the time, pissing the group, was never going to be easy. In the grand scheme of matters it didn't really make much difference what the outcome of the game was as Denmark at 'home' four days later was the big one. But, the manner of the defeat in the game in Bologna was the most disappointing factor; if it had not been for a phenomenal display by Paul Jones in the Stadio Dell'Arra that night then could easily have been a double figure deficit that separated Wales from the Azzuri.
Nevertheless it gave opportunity for a Dial 'M' For Merthyr mini Summer holiday to the Emilia Romagna region of Italy - a city that has modelled its pasta on the naval of Venus.
A 1.30am start from MT; Councillor Griffiths, President Mytton, Wingnut, Emma and myself were the intrepid explorers on this occasion, with the Councillor drawing the short straw of being driver to the Stansted headquarters of the UK's finest low cost airline - 'GO' (a great airline if your highest expectations of the cabin staff's dress code aspires to T-shirt, jeans and a pair of daps). The start of a mammoth 20 hour drinking session then commenced at the ungodly hour of 5am; We'd beaten the opening time of the airport bar by an hour but an emergency supply (of 'Desperate Dan' proportions) of Carling BL was pulled from the boot of the councillors car and it was away to go...
The flight then lived up to its '£100 Stansted/Bologna return' expectations ie shite, but the beer (and the spirits once the beer had run out) flowed all too easily. A short taxi ride after landing ensued in the baking heat of Bologna and we were soon in our quality accommodation right in the heart of the city; a bit pricey on this occasion, by Dial 'M' standards, anyway - £18 per person per night!
Quick change, shower, shave and the draping of the Dragon on the Hotel balcony and we were off to hit the town. Most of the Welsh fans were congregating around the City's main square (Piazza Maggiore) and the Welsh contingent added their touch of culture with a game of 5-a-side Football overlooked by an impressive statue of a macho looking Neptune, surrounded by voluptuous mermaids, water gushing freely from their breasts...
The gastronomic capital of Italy, Bologna serves up high quality cuisine that nurtures a multitude of good life's ingredients; Parma ham, Parmesan cheese, mortadella, chestnuts, fairytale funghi and the inevitable Burger King. Yes, in this hotbed of culinary delights the Dial 'M' party posse dines with Ronald McDonalds archenemy.
The day ends in a blur with several lobster faced sunburnt Welsh fans dancing the night away in the now customary European City's Irish bar...
The morning of the game kicks off with a walk to the player's Hotel to pick up the allocated match tickets. John Hartson is walking around outside the Hotel and, as usual, is slagging off Bobby 'one brow'. The team from the S4C current affairs program 'HENO' are on the City's streets and take a few shots of us with Big John and, later in the day, track our movements around the many public houses. The one thing that does become clear, though, is the players' total lack of respect for the Welsh football manager. In no way does that excuse the inept performance that was to follow...
There were close to 1000 Welsh fans in the Stadio Dell'Ara on this barmy summer evening. The Welsh 'team' (using the word as loosely as possible) did not deserve 1% of the support that was given to them that night. The adopted supporters' anthem 'Men of Harlech' was sung with immense pride for close on two hours. Bloody pathetic; one of the better chances Wales have of qualifying for a major finals goes tits up because some key members of the team don't try a leg, seemingly in an attempt to embarrass the manager into resigning. Thanks a lot, you selfish bastards!!!
Word in the pub later is the BG has quit. These reports are later confirmed. I personally thought BG would have done a half-decent job in charge of the team but his naivety at this level of football was cruelly exposed after a variety of public disagreements with a number of players brought into question his ability to manage an international soccer team. I feel BG seen himself as some sort of Brian Clough figure in his attitude but, unlike 'old big 'ead' he couldn't quite just pull it off, even failing miserably on quite a number of occasions by making a total arse of himself.
The night deteriorated away with the wee small hours being spent with Alan Prickett in a transvestite bar (no connection) in the 'seedier' part of the city. The decision to head back to the Hotel was taken when a 'person' in the bar with 'electric' blue bobbed hair, high heels and an Adam's apple started giving me the eye...
The only highlights of the journey home were discussing travel arrangements for the now vital 'home' game with Denmark at Anfield the following Wednesday and watching the President getting progressively drunker, culminating in his physical & verbal abuse of the Stansted bus transit system, the Pink Elephant.
With Denmark now finding their form in this ever changing Group 1 qualifying pool, will the now managerless Wales be able to lift themselves for the challenge ahead???

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