This has been on My To Do List for a several years and finally this weekend the ambition was realised.
A couple of months ago I bought two tickets and ever since have been thinking of time as before/after I go to Cardiff, if that makes sense - I must get my hair cut before I go to Cardiff, I must loose 10lbs in weight after I come back from Cardiff that type of thing.
With tickets purchased, my friend booked transport on the coach and the B & B. Then last week the riots kicked off in London and I was worried about going; I actually lay in bed on Tuesday night thinking I would have to cancel and almost cried myself to sleep. But of course common sense prevailed and by Thursday my bag was packed, tickets safely tucked away, ready for an early start on Friday morning.
We arrived in Cardiff early afternoon and after booking in to the B & B (just across the river from the stadium) we went off for lunch and an exploratory tour of Cardiff. We found it lively and friendly, everybody looking forward to the match the following day. For the benefit of overseas readers Rugby is the Welsh national sport, the team they love to play against (and win) more than other is England so the day before a "Game" rugby is the only thing on everyones mind. They don't ask if you've come into Cardiff to watch it - they know that's why you're there.
On Saturday morning we wondered along to Cardiff castle to kill a couple of hours (that's the stadium on my right in the background) and then it was time to get ready and head off for the 5 minute walk across the Taff to the stadium ...
One of the great things about a trip to the Millennium Stadium is the singing of the Welsh National anthem before the match - not for patriotic bull but for the sheer enjoyment of being there listening to 50,000 odd people belting it out (I'll allow that the English supporters didn't join in) If you've clicked on the link I'm a little tiny red dot somewhere to the top left of the picture, past the goal posts, in the first sweep around the stadium. It was such an exhilarating moment standing singing the anthem before a match.
I'll now be perfectly honest the first half of the match was certainly not the most exciting I have ever watched - at half time the score was 6-6 and all of those points had been penalty kicks (yawn). But it was a game of two halves (as the commentators love to say) and the second half had the crowd on its feet roaring a couple of times ... the loudest and longest when James Hook scored the only try of the match when Wales were a man down. Final score Wales 19 England 9! (The Cheshire Cat grin says it all doesn't it?) Although my friend was supporting the other side he couldn't help but be impressed with the atmosphere and only shrugged good naturedly when the ribbing started!
After the match we went off for dinner at an Italian restaurant and had one drink in an over-crowded bar before heading back to the B & B. Cardiff was heaving after the match and I would be surprised if there was a drop left to drink in the town this morning - the singing and partying went on for hours. A great end to a horribly traumatic week.