St Jakob’s Park, Basel – Switzerland

1 Mar

Switzerland – 4

Wales – 1

Euro 2012 Qualifying Group G – 12th October 2010

Football fans are fickle. The general concensous in which you arrange fans – from least passionate fans to the most:-

  1. Armchair Fans
  2. Pub Going Fans
  3. Fans Who Go To Home Games
  4. Fans Who Go To Away Games
  5. Fans Who Go To Away Games Abroad

I had achieve level four of Scale of Being a Proper Football Fan™, but with my beloved Colwyn Bay not likely to play in Europe any time soon, I had to either see one of my other teams abroad – Liverpool or Wales. With Liverpool being dire underneath Roy Hodgson, I decided to go and watch Wales play, who had a glimmer of life in them.

Yes, Wales were poor, but we’re not expecting them to be brilliant. Furthermore, we had Bryan Flynn in charge at the time, who worked absolute wonders with boys at the Under 21 level. Could we beat the other invariably out of form team – Switzerland – at their gaff in Basel?

Obligatory scenic view. Made more scenic.

I arrived in Switzerland a couple of days before my compatriates in Basel, as I had booked a long term holiday around Europe, including a game in Hungary with the folks at European Football Weekends, so I had a look around the city, complained that the prices, buggered off to Germany instead (which is just accross the border – the last stop on one of the lines on the Basel Metro is in Germany, and is a lot cheaper), met up with a bunch of the Welsh Twitterati in an an Irish bar & explained everything I knew about Internet Marketing to a Welsh business owner in exchange for a steak dinner & a bottle of red wine (which – for my knowledge & Switzerland prices – is a good deal). By the end of the second day in Basel, I was skint, got over my fear of paying more than £5 for a pint of beer, and met up with my roommates in my hostel – which were Wales fans from Wrexham.

“Beer?”. It was 8am on Match Day. I was awoken by my new found Wrexham friends with the offer of alcohol. At 8am. I refused, instead my day would be spent meeting another having lunch with a few hostelites I’ve known since day 1 in Basel, before meeting with a friend to go to the match.

At around 3pm (the game kicked off in the evening), we went to the Irish Pub (we get designated “Away Fans Pubs” when travelling abroad – oh yes) with the Welsh fans. Sure banter was had – I had the piss ripped out of me for my Colwyn Bay scarf, but we mainly kept ourselves to ourselves, mingled with the Swiss fans that showed up at around 5pm when they rocked up after work, watched a dismal game featuring Northern Ireland & The Faroe Islands and had a new life mission – I want to watch a football match in The Faroe Islands.

Suitably sozzled from pre-pre-match drinks, we headed to St. Jakob’s Park in Basel. The tram journey was great fun, singing hymns & arias with good natured Swiss fans & generally enjoying a few pre-match drinks outside the stadium. God I love Switzerland and it’s lax outside drinking laws. One “Stand Up if You Hate England” chant with our Swiss friends (was good fun!) we headed into the ground.

Stand Up If You Hate England. Sung with gusto from a neutral bunch.

Wales had occupied a small section, but as this was an away trip & it was Wales trip, empty seats were aplenty. Which wasn’t too bad, as we could stand wherever we wanted, and the other empty areas was covered with flags. Truly a part of Switzerland was Welsh that night.

Forever Wales, well, for 90 minutes at least.

What we lacked in bodies, we made up in noise. The national anthems were impeccably sung & observed by both teams. When the game began, songs such as the staple “Wales” were belted out, as well as delightful songs about the great Welsh Hope – Mr Gareth Bale.

Unfortunately, whilst the Welsh have Gareth Bale, they unfortunately don’t have much else. Switzerland learnt quickly to put two players on Bale and within 10 minutes the host took the lead – Valentin Stocker heading in an uncleared ball. Wales were back level with defensive frailties meant that Bale ran onto a ball played behind the back four to equalise. The scored stayed level for 9 minutes, when Marco Streller again exposed defensive frailties to make

it 2-1 to the home team. It remained that at half time.

Another Swiss attack.

Second half was an open affair as Wales pressed for an equalizer. The hosts hit the posts, and Wales spurned two great chances before a foul by Christian Ribero caused a penalty that was scored by Gökhan Inler on 82 minutes, followed by a second by Valentin Stocker to effectively end Wales’ hopes of European Championship Qualification. 4-1 to Switzerland.

Not that most of the Welsh fans cared. The fans were still singing and having a good time. I think most Welsh fans realise that they are effectively rubbish, but it’s so much fun going elsewhere to watch them.

Upon leaving the stadium, me and my friends headed out to the town. We made friends with the hot dog stall girl outside the ground, which got us free hot dogs & beer. Result! Alas, there isn’t much to do in Basel on a Tuesday night in October, so after checking ourselves into a lovely pool hall, we headed home.

Yeah we lost, but the next day I was off to Zurich, which made me happy.

About Rhys Wynne

Rhys Wynne is the editor & creator of You're Supposed To Be At Home. For his sins, he is a Colwyn Bay & Liverpool fan, and a serial blog creator. You can follow Rhys on twitter here.