by Daisy Cutter

Despite Wales looking all super furry atop group B in their Euro qualifying campaign the Cutter is refusing to count his cyws just yet and certainly isn’t booking flights to France next summer.

That’s because the land of his fathers have a spectacular record of near-misses and valiant misfortunes in their efforts to reach their first major tournament since 1958.

There was the Joe Jordan ‘pen in ’77 and Romania in ’93 and…y’know what, let’s not do this. Suffice to say Wales often over-achieve, occasionally under-achieve, but always, always leave you proud but heartbroken.

Yet, maybe, just maybe, this time might be different. With 11 points from their opening five games and two extremely tricky aways safely negotiated it certainly feels different and the optimism that is sweeping the nation is now accompanied by, dare we say it, an air of confidence and the faint breeze of belief.

So – WITHOUT TEMPTING FATE – let’s indulge in a brief moment of fantasy by imagining what the 2016 Euros would be like accompanied by the roar of three million dragons.

Red Army

The last occasion Wales reached a major tournament was 1958 where a teenage Pele prodded home to settle a classic quarter final. So it’s fair to assume this will be an entirely new experience for Chris Coleman’s Red Army after years of singing their hearts out in ramshackle grounds in tiny far-flung corners of the continent.

The travelling Welsh fans have justifiably gained a reputation for ingratiating themselves with their hosts in beer and song and whether they’re based in Saint-Etienne or Lille locals can expect to be serenaded with this number.

While social media can look forward to some of these crackers after a few too many….


In many ways Coleman’s tactics against Israel summed up his three years at the helm. Initial consternation by supporters at the omittance of a recognised centre forward – with Bale playing up top in what was essentially a 4-6-0 – gave way to acquiescence towards a strategy that patently worked.

Coleman has shrewdly adopted a system that gets the best out of a side that is lop-sided with talent with the international class of Bale, Allen and Ramsey mixed in with Championship-standard players. The balance the gaffer has sought – and found – offers Wales solidity and makes them difficult to break down. But it also allows his star players fluidity and the opportunity to maximise their influence in the attacking third. It’s clever and only surface-deep negative.

Against the Germanys and Spains next summer expect the same but while it’s hardly enthralling stuff it’s certainly not Norway in ’94 or Greece in 2004 either.

Wales knock the ball around, are easy on the eye and undeniably possess ambition; it’s simply that ambition is hand-held by caution and organisation.

Bale the superstar

There’s no shame in putting all your eggs in one basket when the basket cost £80m.

Bulgaria did it with Stoichkov in 1994 to great effect reaching the semi-final and let’s not forget that while the media clamour over the newly buffed-up galactico it takes considerable pressure off his team-mates as they acclimatise to the biggest stage of all.

On the pitch the good largely outweighs the bad but for every moment of individual magic there’s usually three or four occasions when others are far better placed yet are over-looked as Bale strives to single-handedly make a difference.

The approach has got Wales this far but let’s hope it doesn’t lessen the chances of…

The emergence of an unlikely hero

You want examples? Just watch any Euro/World Cup/AFCON compilation from time immemorial to find they’re sprinkled with previously unsung or unknown players who come to the fore.

Our money is on Robson-Kanu, a winger who elevates his capabilities every time he pulls on a Welsh jersey and looks – on occasion – like a world beater. Just Europe will suffice Hal.

Celebrity fans

Remember Mick Jagger in his pink shirt? Or the Angus Deayton/Zoe Ball bandwagon hijack of ’96?

Wales’ famous contingent will do things infinitely better and certainly cooler. Kelly Jones from the Stereophonics will presumably be present as too Charlotte Church shit-faced on rum and black with a gobful of kebab.

Katherine Jenkins meanwhile will add some mezzo-soprano from an executive box to a stirring national anthem that will thump your heart full of endorphins no matter your nationality.

Media cliché

The only blot on an otherwise surreal landscape will be the belittling of ‘plucky’ Cymru by a raft of commentators who excel at such stereotype.

Expect plenty of puns excavated from the valleys involving leeks and Gavin and Stacey catchphrases. It won’t be lush.