I am currently sitting on a train bound to London from Cardiff in anticipation to deliver a presentation for work tomorrow morning. This is a trip many Welshmen (and women and children) will have made today as we are now only 3 hours away from the kick off in the Wales v England Euro 2012 qualifier, which is being played at Wembley Stadium.
This is a huge game on so many levels, but the main reason is bragging rights… if you’re an Englishman, for the next few days or weeks; but for a Welshman, for years to come.
I have conducted research on my family tree for a few years, and if I go back only a few generations I realise that I have hardly a welsh bone in my body, with only one line of Jones’s to hang my patriotic hat onto… but my blood runs red, literally and metaphorically. I have lived my life accepting the stereotypical jokes, on the chance that on a few occasions I can wallow in pride when Welsh success shows its face. I hope I am able to find a nice bar close to my hotel where I can watch the game tonight.
I believe Wales have a better than fair chance of getting a result, although the draw is probably the best outcome I can expect… but this is not going to dissuade me from having a birthday bet on a welsh win, especially at odds of 21/1.
We have a group of attacking players with the likes of Bale, Ramsey and Ledley, who could potentially open up any side in the world; but I am also wary that we have always been susceptible to soft goals at the back. We cannot afford to be complacent when you have the might of the English midfield and forwards breathing down your necks.
It’s not just the football that the Welsh have to look forward to, but a Rugby World Cup which we are going into with a little bit of confidence. With 2 out of 3 wins in our warm up games (even if the win over England was a tad unconvincing, but none-the-less satisfying), we can go into our opening game against South Africa with some belief that we can win. South Africa, although world class, will know that Wales have got the talented players to punish them, especially if they are playing anything less than their best. The Springboks have only just managed to beat Wales on their last 3 meetings, and this is (in my opinion) a stronger Welsh squad.
So, in honour of my heart-over-head driven confidence, I have decided to add a Wales rugby win to my bet at odds of 5.5/1…. So now my bet double with a £10 stake has potential winnings of £1,145.
As I would be more than happy with £1,000 I have decided that the £145 (in the unlikely event of a double win) will be donated to charity. The charity that I have in mind is the John Hartson Foundation.
Fronted by the former Wales big man himself, this is a charity that devotes itself to raising awareness of testicular cancer, an illness that John himself has battled to rid himself of. Follow John on Twitter.
It is also the chosen charity for the other big England v Wales soccer match that is taking place this week. It’s the legends game that is being played at Pride Park, Derby on Thursday evening (Live on ITV4).
Past players and celebrities from the 2 countries will be trying their best to out-do their opponents whilst raising money for this worthy cause… and whatever the result I will be making a small donation on the night. The line-ups for both teams are mightily impressive, but as a Welshman who was brought up on 80’s and 90’s soccer it is step-back-in-time to the days of Hughes, Rush and Saunders et al.
It’s taken an hour to compose this blog and register my bet, and now all I can do is look forward to a feast of international sport over the coming days and weeks, and hope for great results for the Welsh.