Just for once, the international break is actually throwing up some half-decent matches and despite it only being a friendly England’s Thursday night encounter with Wales at Wembley should be a great warm-up for the week ahead.
Welsh football, of course, has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years and has even been known to have stolen the back-page headlines away from Rugby Union thanks to their incredible run to the European Championship semi-finals in 2016 followed by qualification to Euro 2020, which has been delayed until next summer.
Cynics have said that the soccer team’s success has had people who believe they are Welsh just because they once had a day trip to Llandudno, declaring their allegiance for the team without really understanding what being truly Welsh is all about. For those who are still a little unsure, we’ve compiled a small checklist to give you the definitive answer.
ROAD RAGE OR MORNING GLORY?
Before she became a serious muso over on 6 Music, Cerys Matthews fronted Welsh four-piece Catatonia to critical acclaim in the Britpop days of the mid-1990s. Back then you were more likely to see the Cardiff born singer knocking back pints on a Euro away with Manchester United fans than rummaging through her collection of Puerto Rican jazz-funk records, but despite fully indulging herself in the rock star lifestyle, Cerys and the boys still managed to produce some blindingly good indie-pop tunes that still stand up today and in 2014 she was awarded an MBE for her services to music.
It’s 25 years since Oasis released their seminal album “What’s the Story Morning Glory” but we all have to grow up and move on…don’t we? Nobody told the band’s former frontman Liam Gallagher who continues to act like a twat despite having just put 48 candles on his birthday cake. The brains of the outfit of course was brother Noel and since the bands acrimonious split in 2009, Gallagher senior has continued his musical career with his new charges the High Flying Birds, whilst Liam is still wearing oversized parkas pursuing a solo career with tunes that sound like Oasis, without Noel’s input.
BITTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW
Anyone who’s been on a jolly to Wales will be aware that one of the most popular drinks in all the boozers is Brains Bitter. Only a true Welsh native would order a pint of best at their local despite the makers having to distance themselves from the rumour that the marketing men in Cardiff (where the brewery is based) are keen on updating the brand by having former midfielder now media mouthpiece Robbie Savage heading up a new ad campaign.
A spokesman was recently quoted as saying that it was absurd to think that their drink could be associated with someone who has “Only fresh air between their ears” and that the name, which dates back to 1882, will forever be associated with the brewery’s founder Chris Brain.
It’s a bit of a standing joke in the pubs up and down the country that the best way to try and catch out someone who believes they are Welsh is by having a wide selection of bitters on the bar. Many people whose surname is Jones or Owen and who were born in Luton or Dunstable or wherever, have been found out when it comes to drink selection. One way to send a Welsh drinking establishment into meltdown is to order a pint of John Smiths or Worthington Creamflow then stand there red-faced as the whole place pisses itself. Even breaking into an impromptu rendition of Land of my Fathers won’t save you. You’ve been warned!
As a kid I used to go to Butlins every summer and looking back, I don’t think there are many of the original locations still in existence. The holiday camps that are still standing and were the inspiration for the BBC hit comedy Hi-de-Hi, now make their money putting on music weekends for disciples of Northern Soul, Two-Tone or cheesy 80’s pop.
No proper Welshman/woman worth their salt would have dreamt of going anywhere else back in the day other than Butlins at Pwllheli and if they did, then it was obvious that they had a little Anglo Saxon in their blood. Although it continues as a family getaway, the Pwllheli site is now owned by Haven and has gone so Welsh that it has even changed its name to Hafan y Môr. Anyone who now rocks up at reception and fails to pronounce the name correctly will be told in no uncertain terms to get back in their car and fuck off to Minehead.
McGOOHAN OR MacNEE?
Your TV habits can also be a dead giveaway as to whether you’re really Welsh or just playing at it. Let’s take two cult shows from the late 1960s for example – when The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan first aired in 1967, the exterior shots filmed in the picturesque Welsh town of Portmeirion, struck a chord with locals who immediately changed their allegiance almost overnight from The Avengers which had already been in production for two years and which starred the dapper Patrick MacNee as the smooth operating John Steed.
The shows were basically aimed at the same audience, but whereas MacNee found himself constantly surrounded by beautiful woman, McGoohan spent most of his time being chased down a beach by a giant inflatable. By the time The Prisoner had reached its climax (and McGoohan had run out of breath) after 17 episodes, most people felt exactly how The Beatles must have when they came home from visiting the Maharishi Yogi in India. Good job then that Wales is the home to the some of the best magic mushrooms money can buy.
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