It’s just as well that the most popular song in Bordeaux was Please don’t take me home
because, even if we had wanted to, getting home was impossible thanks to the transport strikes and the lack of taxis in the city. We ended up walking miles and exploring most of the city on foot during our three days here.
My match day started with a really nice run around the area by our hotel and I stumbled across this lovely little park.
Being the superstitious type I now have to go for a run before all of our games!
After (inevitably) walking miles into the city centre we grouped near the Grand Hotel where there was a brilliant atmosphere.
After a few beers we decided it was time to head to the stadium. On the way to the tram stop I was made up to meet my childhood hero Ian Rush.
Despite being packed in like sardines the trams were really rocking with the Welsh choir warming up for the stadium.
After waiting all of my life it was an emotional feeling reaching the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux for our first match at a tournament in 58 years.
The stadium was at least 60% Welsh and it was really buzzing with anticipation as we got inside.
As the national anthem kicked in I felt an overwhelming feeling of emotion and fought back the tears, as apparently did the players. I have dreamed of that moment all my life and it was better than I ever imagined it would be. The anthem.
When Bale scored, the place erupted.
We were the better team and, if things had gone our way, could have won comfortably, however there were plenty of hairy moments and, having watched Wales for more than 30 years, I am used to disappointment. At 1-1 I was getting plenty of negative thoughts as the Slovaks applied the pressure. Thankfully Coleman changed things around bringing on Hal Robson-Kanu and Joe Ledley. Ledley’s story is amazing – he broke his leg about 5 weeks ago and has worked really hard to get back to fitness. He played the ball through to Aaron Ramsey who found Kanu whose scuffed shot went into the bottom corner and the crowd went wild.
It annoys me when people say this is a one man team. Clearly Bale is our talisman and biggest goal threat but that is so unfair to the rest of the squad. How well have Portugal done in all of the years that Cristiano Ronaldo has been playing for them? The unbelievable team spirit in this squad has taken them a long way and Chris Coleman and his staff deserve a lot of credit for that.
Us fans deserve credit too as the wonderful atmosphere clearly inspired the players again.
All of the Slovakia fans that we met were very friendly and, despite being outnumbered, they played a big part in making it such a good atmosphere yesterday which was in stark contrast to scenes in Marseille.
It’s fair to say that the 25,000 Welsh consumed a lot of beer and the local red. Amongst our group we certainly did our bit. Despite this, we didn’t see any trouble at all. Several locals told us how glad they were to be hosting Wales and they certainly made us feel welcome.
The police were excellent and have praised the Welsh fans for their behaviour. I hope this continues in Lens where we face England and Toulouse where we play Russia.
It really was a perfect day. Great company with the Eglwysbach boys, my sister, Dad and everyone else we met along the way. The three points we all hoped for but many of us thought were beyond us and England and Russia drawing in the other match in the group all meaning that after match day one, we are top of the league!
So today we have travelled to France’s second biggest city, Lyon and for me a much needed day off the booze. I’m looking forward to Italy v Belgium tomorrow. For their sake I hope that Belgium play better than they did against Wales at the Cardiff City stadium one year ago today. It should be a great game anyway, the stadium looks awesome and it will be nice to see a match without the emotional roller coaster of yesterday’s game.
Bordeaux is very nice, the sort of place I would definitely come back to. Just not when there are transport strikes!