A March 2005 trip
to Perth by SimonJones
Quote: A very good day to you all! It's been 3 days now since that memorable Saturday afternoon when Wales did what they've failed to do in 22 years by beating Ireland at the Millennium Stadium.
It's been 3 days now since that memorable Saturday afternoon when Wales did what they've failed to do in 22 years by beating Ireland at the Millenium stadium. Finally, after 27 years in waiting, the passionate Welsh public is able to bask in the glory of winning a 6 Nations Grand Slam.
The last 72 hours have been an uphill struggle to recover from the world's worst hangover. Naturally, the party started on St. Patrick's Day, when the Celtic brothers and sisters of Wales and Ireland embraced each other and began the post-match banter over a beer or 10, 48 hours ahead of the big showdown in Cardiff.
On St.Patrick's Day, I realised exactly how close the Celtic bond and unity which derives from the history and blood of both the Welsh and Irish public (not forgetting our Scottish brothers) actually is. We share the notorious characteristics of having a passion for rugby and a weakness for alcohol. And "to be sure" plenty of Guinness, Bulmers, and rugby chat was evident between the 15 or so contingent that embraced a 10 hour bar crawl in Perth, Western Australia.
The following day, on the eve of the "Big Match" I suddenly realised that it was my birthday. Luckily, having been born at 6:35pm, GMT, my birthday would actually fall on Saturday with the 8-hour time difference between Perth and the United Kingdom taking effect. Great--what an excuse to celebrate on the day Wales could possibly re-write quarter of a centuries sporting history!
After much debate on the issue of being able to watch the game with full commentary, the strong Celtic contingent of Billabong hostel took a short taxi ride to an Irish bar in the nearby suburb of Subiaco.
Luckily, our Irish friends had arrived ahead of time, and saved us the central table. As kick-off (11pm local time) neared, a see of red and green crammed into the tightly packed room of the "Irish Club".
Up stepped Maxie Boyce and Charlotte Church as the 74,000-strong crowd in the stadium prepared their vocal chords for one huge effort to bellow out "Hen Wlad fy Nhadau". As we looked on in awe from our seats in the bar, six of us Welsh boys ran to the middle of the room, clasping each other and the giant-sized Welsh flag that we all love so dearly. It was clearly evident by the level of noise and passion for the anthem, that we were definitely on for a very special night.
Most of the Welsh boys embraced our Celtic brothers and joined in the singing of "Ireland, Ireland", in a show of our Celtic camaraderie.
The game kicked off, and before we knew it, O'Gara had calmly slotted a penalty over the posts to give Ireland an early lead. It was clearly evident that the nerves of the occasion were affecting the players.
Then, at 3-3, Ronan O'Gara delayed kicking for touch and was charged down by the 20stone figure of Welsh prop Gethin Jenkins. To further add to O'Gara's humiliation, Jenkins out sprinted the Irish outside half to score a fantastic try and send the Welsh fans into ecstatic jubilation.
Peter and I decided to orchestrate some atmosphere in the room, and at the top of our jubilant voices we sang "Bread of Heaven." Suddenly it seemed as though the Welsh jerseys outnumbered the Irish, which considering the location was somewhat of a surprise. A Welshman asked me "What happened to the Irish". I replied "There's about 10 of them on our table, they're just too stingy to buy their jersey." Luckily the Irish know how to take a joke!
From that moment onwards the writing was on the wall, as Gavin Henson showed us all why he's the talk of the town, sending 2 tremendous long distance penalties through the Irish posts.
"Peter" i said "Calon Lan". And with that the rooftop of our bar was nearly lifted as each and every Welshman joined in to sing our boys home. Fair play to the Irish, they never gave up, and proved their deep Celtic "never say die" attitude with two tries late on to send some nerves jingling through the spines of us welsh folk.
Final whistle went Wales 32- 20- Ireland. There is a god. " And we were singing Hymns and Arias, Land of My Fathers "Ar hyd y nos""
Full credit to the Irish fans. Each and every one of them in that bar came up to us welsh boys gave us a big hug and congratulated us on our victory. We shared a quick rendition of the obscene chariots song, before continuing our celebrations in harmony.
When i woke up on Sunday I slapped myself. I couldn't believe that I’d just dreamed Wales had won the Grand Slam, when 18 months ago we had lost a record 11 consecutive matches. I walked down to the Internet to check the BBC website. Low and behold, the headline read, "Wales win Grand Slam."
Heaven is a place on earth. It lies in the centre of Cardiff city centre and makes dreams come true.
Big welsh love,
The sleep-loving, sheep-loving, proud, passionate Welshman