We’re a broad church at the Wales fans’ team. No, really.
So when three Canadian gap year types got chatting to some of our number on the train from Graz to Zagreb, they were invited to play for the team the following day.
And to our surprise they turned up for the rendezvous at 4pm on the day before the trip to Osijek. Well oiled – how did they know this was part of the deal? Adam Soil (goalie), Brian Weatherseed (blonde hair) and Rob Cooley are travelling around Europe. In Hungary last we heard.
The mayor of Zagreb (still trying to find his name on the internet) kicked the match off apparently at the very plush training ground of the first division side NK Zagreb.
I didn’t know this fact otherwise I would have taken a picture of the kick-off. Just to add to the surrealism. And then he invited us all for breakfast on the day of the game.
And, even more surreal, the invitation was later rescinded for some family reason (Hmmm, isn’t that what politicians all over the world say?).
As per usual we slipped into a four-goal deficit in what seemed like seconds. And our top front man Owain from Aber was too knackered to last the first half.
Then keeper Greg hurt his leg – he’d done a half-marathon the day before. And a second keeper
So half-time came and Adam, three days into his European holiday of a lifetime, stuck his hand up to be goalie for the second half. He has a scary twitter nickname folks @evilsalty – go and follow him.
- I like to think my half-time pep talk to the Canucks made a difference (‘Listen lads, as we say in the UK, run your bollocks off’ – they nodded as though they knew what it meant).
Man of iron and top Wales goalscorer Will Johnson took the field after running a marathon the day before in Graz (show-0ff). What’s he on? I reckon he could outlast Lance Armstrong even if Armstrong had swigged a bucketful of EPO/steroids/dopedisguiser.
And we pulled a goal back through the multi-talented Johnson, scoring for his tenth fans’ game in a row. A Gullit-esque rocket header from a corner .
And then came the highlight. Man off the S4C soap opera Rhys Hartley gave away a penalty in the box and Adam from Toronto (full of some sort of concoction) had to face it.
The Croat hit it low to the keeper’s left and well, would you Adam and Eve it?, our man danced across to save it with his left foot. The penalty taker made it to the rebound first and fired in a cannonball which ricocheted off Adam.
A double-save from a penalty. A Wales fans’ first, surely? Big Nev eat your heart out. And definitely the highlight of the game, if not the week.
We showed those pesky Croats how to take a penalty when ex-Croesyceiliog hotshot Huw made it 6-2.
But, the biggest guest, for me so far has been @evilsalty