It was way back on 5th February 1958 at Ninian Park, Cardiff where Ivor Allchurch and Cliff Jones made it 2-0, the same score as the first leg in Tel Aviv, Israel. WALES WERE ON THE WAY to their first and only World Cup in SWEDEN that summer.
It was quite complicated. Wales had come 2nd in their qualification group to Czechoslovakia, with only the group leader qualifying. HOWEVER FIFA had decided that NO TEAM could go to the 1958 World Cup finals without playing a match. ONLY ONE team from Asia/Africa zone was allowed in those days and round after round all opponents pulled out and refused to play the Israelis. So, they had a draw out of the hat for 2nd place teams with Wales the lucky team. Wales manager Jimmy Murphy, Matt Busby's assistant at Manchester United, was away with Wales so was not on THE FATAL FLIGHT from Belgrade that crashed after refueling in Munich. www.faw.org.uk.
They went to Sweden along with the three other British teams, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. England had lost a number of star players in the Munich Air Disaster. In fact Northern Ireland and Wales made it to the quarter finals. Friday night in Cardiff at Cardiff City Stadium, next to the now demolished Ninian Park, saw GARETH BALE's goal after 25 minutes put the RED DRAGONS 3 points on top of UEFA Group B, as they defeated world no. 2 BELGIUM 1-0.
WHAT A NIGHT!! Singing the Welsh National Anthem throughout,neither the crowd nor the home team wilted. The teams had tied 0-0 in Brussels and as the game progressed the RED DEVILS faded and the well organized Welsh, managed by 45 year old CHRIS COLEMAN, not born until 1970, stood firm. With home and away to Cyprus, home to Israel and away to Bosnia-Herzegovina, they are more than hopeful of their first major tournament in 58 years. I was at the 0-0 match at home to the Bosnians last October. Great atmosphere.
SCOTLAND came from behind to tie 1-1 with Ireland at Aviva Stadium after winning at home at Celtic Park, Glasgow and fancy their chances of at least 2nd place to Germany or Poland in Group D. FAI Executive Director John Delaney had written a scathing anti FIFA rant in the match programme. At the last minute the editor had 18,000 copies shredded and reprinted without the article at a cost of over 7,000 euros.
This morning in www.dailymail.co.uk I read how a whistleblower in South Africa had been murdered just prior to giving evidence to a tribunal concerning corruption over the awarding of contracts for the £80 million, 46,000 seat Mbombela stadium in NELSPRUI which only hosted 4 matches in 2010. With no major club in the area since the demise of THE DANGEROUS DARKIES FC., it was a controvercial venue. Politician JIMMY MOHLALA was gunned down by two men on his doorstep.
In 2008 I was driven there by a friend before we went north to see wild animals. I asked her why all the construction workers were female? The answer was that the men would immediatley spend their wages in the shabeens and not take it home and fail to turn up for work the next day. The women looked after their children and bought food, clothes and medicine.
More trouble for CROATIA. They had to host Italy in an empty stadium in Split, due to previous racial and right wing chanting hooligans. Somebody had carved a large swastika on the pitch with a mower and the Italian F.A. reported it to FIFA.