So, now I’m awake. The sun is out and all there’s nothing but road as far as the eye can see. No mountains. Just road. France is flat as fuck.
We finally rolled into Paris, just after 9AM. By now I have had one hours kip in the last 27 hours, with nobody else having had much more. So what though. We’re in Paris. We made it! Get on the phone to TicketBoy. Tom, ask him where he is. I imagine this was around the time we took a wrong turn. Nothing like a quick tour through the slums of Paris, right?
We quickly found our way back on the right path, around the time Tom got hold of TicketBoy. We headed over to the ticket collection point, to collect our UEFA tickets, and to meet TicketBoy. All we needed to do was find somewhere to park. Easy, right? Wrong. The whole place was on lock-down ahead of the game that evening. We done laps and laps, trying to park this big massive minibus we were wrongly given! This vehicle was starting to annoy us! Even when we found a car park we couldn’t get in there because the minibus was too high! Fuck me.
After ten million laps, and everyone getting a bit pissed off, we finally found one space! And we squeezed right into it. Parked up, we needed to sort out Euros for TicketBoy in the hope he was legit and would not let us down. We managed to make the money up between us – not bad considering none of us had bothered to change much money yet. Fucking rookies. We needed to fly by a cashpoint to just top the full amount up, and there was one across the road. TicketBoy was waiting for us at the agreed check point. Get some cash out an get our tickets. We did not account for French Allan asking the bank to use their toilet for a number two. We did not expect the bank to let him!
Fastforward twenty minutes and he was out, and we were on the way to ticket collection. The moment of truth. Were we about to be kidnapped? Would these tickets be legit? We met him. He reached behind his back. This was it. It’s either the tickets or a gun. It was tickets. Thank fuck. By now we had collected our UEFA allocated tickets too, so compared them quickly. Seemed legit. We made our way back to the minibus, with our new French mate, and swapped the tickets for the money, and even give him a lift back, dropping him off at our hotel. Now the only time we would be 100% sure if these tickets were legit, would be at the gates, and if they were not legit, we were fucked. And so would the other 4 boys we shifted the spares too.
Fuck it. We checked into our hotel, dumped our bags and got out into Paris about 1ish. Paris was bouncing. Once we found everybody, anyway! I’d say red shirts outnumbered green shirts 3 to 1. Once we found all the fans we settled for a pub on the corner that had about 20 welsh boys outside, enjoying a beer in the sun. We headed to the bar and ordered 6 pints. 60 Euros.
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
When in Rome I guess. We had a few rounds of the most expensive lagers in Paris. In plastic glasses, with massive heads. Who cares, we were in Paris. Plus after all the travelling and lack of sleep, after 3 of these beers, I was fucked. We went for a wonder around the Eiffel Tower, turned around and headed back to the same bar! We knew they had a toilet and we all needed a massive piss. Then the rest of the Maesteg touring party turned up. Over a week deep into partying across Europe, bottles of Port in tow. A few more beers at this bar, and a few shots of Port, and the whole City was getting louder. We headed off to the stadium, with one of the boys suddenly an expert at both the geography and Metro system of Paris. He was of course, drunk as fuck and wrong as fuck in equal measure. Queue a frantic dash for taxis and we arrived at the stadium, with enough time for one more beer before heading in. And another piss. I piss so much. Around the stadium was literally bouncing. The streets were rammed with red and green, people were hanging from street signs. It was loud. It was friendly. I didn’t see any trouble anywhere. Everyone was just loving life. The biggest bit of rule breaking I saw was an Irish man that had adopted a hanging basket as a hat. Of course he did, it was green after all.
We got into the stadium, a lovely stadium too. Nice and simple. Yup, the tickets were legit! Salut to TicketBoy! The crowd were rocking by now, all the songs we had heard all day, and all week in the news and plastered over social media. The atmosphere in there was electric. It’s just a shame I fell asleep. Twice. Gimme a break, I had been awake 36 hours, and the stadium didn’t serve any full strength lager – and let’s be honest the first half of the game was tragically boring! I powered up at half time with a hotdog and a Coca Cola, and a Marlboro.
I was flagging again in the second half, until the goal went in and the place blew up! It’s worth noting that we were in a mixed area, so the singing wasn’t as loud where we were, but the view was incredible. As you know by now, Wales won 1-0 and we are through to the Quarter finals. At full-time the stadium went nuts, and we stayed behind for the best part of half hour, clapping the boys and cheering their kids as they scored in the empty goals. It was beautiful. I was loving it.
We filtered out of the stadium and into the street, and I swear there are videos of me on every continent by now, singing and dancing to Zombie Nation, and the now infamous Please Don’t Take Me Home. I was having a fucking ball, and so was everybody else.
We made it to the next pub, and drank a few more beers, before wondering the streets with cans for a bit. The whole City was bouncing a sea of red. Wales had done it again. Together Stronger, right?
We headed back to our hotel about 10ish, to figure out where to spend the rest of the night over a few drinks while our phones charged. And then we woke up the next morning.
Paris was a fucking blast.