WALES AWAY – BELGIUM 2022: Day Six – Match Day (22/09/22)

Two days on and I still haven’t recovered from the session on the 12% beer (or at least I hope that’s the problem). So we have another lie in.

After getting dressed ready for the game, with appropriate red Wales shirts,  Posh and Becks burst into the room armed with bunting,  balloons and red t shirts with my face on the front. I’m not going to get away without the whole world knowing it is my sixteenth birthday.  Bless ’em. I was literally lost for words.

First stop was a nice little cafe for a toasted cheese sandwich.  Portion wise, it was just right for where my stomach was at, and it was really nice, but €10 for a cheese toastie is getting boring now.

Posh declares the day is all about me because it is my birthday.

“I’m happy just hanging around town and soaking up the atmosphere”, I state.

“Okay,  I know an interesting looking museum/ art gallery we can visit.” Says Posh.

And so it was we walked bastard miles up a hill, past the Museum of Musical Instruments, which I really fancied, to an enormous museum that seemed determined to confuse visitors to the point of not being able to find the entrance.

When we finally got to the entrance we checked in bags and coats and proceeded to soak in the incredible art.

Art is very subjective.  What one person likes another may hate. We strolled around the gallery trying to appreciate what the artist was trying to tell us,before unanimously agreeing that it was all a bit shit. The term ‘Emporers New Clothes’ sprung to mind. I have no idea why this stuff deserved gallery space.

We head back down the hill, past the museum I wanted to go in, and back towards the square. We briefly stop for cider and chips before diving straight into the square next to the obligatory ‘irish pub”. Gol, the Wales fan’s charity was holding a party, with raffles and such like but was mainly ‘The Red Wall’ stood outside getting drunk and singing songs. We find a spot outside a nearby pub and mingle with Posh’s third favourite son and his mates. Until this point I was taking the approach that healthy living would cure me of what ever I was suffering from, but I gave in and went down the “hair of the dog’ route – which actually worked quite well.

Several hours fly by and it is soon time to head to the game. At this point we realise that everyone had assumed someone else had worked out how to get there, but nobody had, so we just followed the crowd onto the Metro and hoped someone knew the way.

After what seemed like an eternity we eventually arrived near the stadium. It turns out it is next to the Atomium,  something else I had fancied visiting. I doubt I would be making the journey all the way out here again though.

The King Badouin Stadium was built in 1985, on the site of the old Hysel Stadium,  which had been demolished following the tragedy that unfolded when Liverpool and Juventus fans clashed, a wall collapsed and thirty nine people died.

Although it might have been modern back in 85, it is looking rather tired now. I actually quite liked it though, but I’ of those people that yearn for the good old days of Ninian Park.

The terraces are quite steep with very little space between rows. As a result, it seemed like every five minutes someone was going apex over base. I almost went over myself,  my cat like reflexes being the only thing between me and certain death. At one point someone fell and took out the three rows in front of him. How no limbs were broken remains a mystery to me.

On the whole the slips,  trips and falls were quickly followed by pats on the back, hand shakes and laughs. There was one incident near us though that resulted in a ‘did you spill my pint’ scenario and looked in danger of boiling over till FAW Stewards stepped in.

Oh. Nearly forgot.  There was a game on. Belgium are ranked second in the world but yet again Wales gave them a run for their money. The last seven times we have played them, they had only beaten us once. We even knocked them out in the Quarter Finals of Euro 2016.

Tonight we lost 2:1 with a depleted squad. The team didn’t embarrass themselves and we were not far off snatching a draw.

Wales fans don’t expect to win every time so there were no histrionics at the end, everyone trooped out of the stadium in good spirits,  mingling with the home fans.

Posh decided it would be easier to have s pint in the pub next to the stadium and get a taxi when things calmed down..What could possibly go wrong?

Myself and the Purley Queen opted to stick to Plan A and get the Metro. The trouble was, we still didn’t really know where we were going. We asked several other fans, who clearly didn’t know either,  before eventually asking some locals,  who were most obliging.

Before you could say Bob’s your Uncle,  we were back at the scene of the crime drinking 12% beer again.