Half-time in Volgograd, after possibly the dullest first 45 minutes of the tournament so far, was a low point.
“Forty-five minutes more of this and then the turkey ticket of Saudi v Arabia on Monday, no chance of selling that, and that could be my World Cup over,” I thought.
It turns out that watching Iceland, the second most popular team in Wales, isn’t always a barrel of laughs – that notion is a red herring.
It took the first Iceland ‘thunderclap’ of the game after 12 minutes just to get the atmosphere going. And, boy, that was worth the admission price alone but wasn’t really what we all came for.
Looks good on the telly doesn’t it? In the flesh it sends an electric thrill through you.
In the Nigeria end, with hundreds of empty seats, the fans only got worked up for a Mexican wave.
The locals piped up strongly for a chorus of ‘Rass-C-ya’ and occasional Rotor Volgograd chants. In Russian, ‘Rotor’ sounds like ‘rotter’ so it comes out sounding funny. Yes, the first 45 was so mundane I started analysing Rotor Volgograd chants.
The second half required a change of scenery and possibly even a change of sport. Could we perhaps get a game of cricket going cos I needed a net?
It was possible to slip into the massed ranks of the Icelandics, who stood throughout the match up on the second tier.
Good move, shame about the result.
Was very taken by the first goal – candidate for the cleverest goal so far.
An Iceland throw – a thing of beauty at Euro 2016 – was turned into a counter-attacking opportunity and Musa finished off a thrilling move. These guys look great on the counter attack.
His second was superb. And Sigurdsson’s penalty miss surely the end for Iceland here. Spurned goals on plates take a toll.
A bit of herring-do, sorry derring-do, was needed from Wales’s second favourite side, but it looks like this lovely lot of blond Amazons are on the last trawler back to Reykjavik.
They’re quite quiet and undemonstrative outside the arena, the Icelandics. You’d think, with their monster thunderclap that appears to announce your impending doom, and that they’re just giving you fair warning of a very nasty end – YOUR end – they would be a raucous bunch. Billy big bollocks times ten.
But not at all. They were very humble. After the Great Recession of 2008 they even locked up some of their greedy bankers – you have to admire any country that does that.
What a bunch of great geysers.
They could only be cooler – obligatory Bjork reference coming up – if she wrote a World Cup anthem for them.
This is turning into a Pushkin love poem and I’ve never been to Iceland. Too bloody expensive.
So best to say that their sad demise is the first genuine disappointment of the tournament, shortly followed by the Germs’ late win last night.
But at least I got to do the Thunderclap – currently one of the Seven Great Wonders of the football – and maybe this World Cup, which in my view is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory so long as Germany don’t win it, has already peaked.
And then this
Once again, the best bit was after the game. Even better than the Thunderclap.
These Nigerian nutters, I think, weren’t allowed to take their instruments into the game, which is crying shame because they would’ve helped everyone endure the first half.
Afterwards, naturally, they were flying high. They parped til were pooped out and pummelled their drums, attracting a huge fan club.
At the transport transfer there was a mad scramble to join them on the bus to the train station. That trip was one of the best bus journeys of my life – I didn’t even want to go to the station – as they continued the performance en route.
Iceland’s probable demise had one upside – Nigeria looked good and that’ll be great for the rest of the tournament if they see off Argentina to emerge from Group whatever it is.
Take it away lads: