After 64 long years, the Welsh football team finally managed to qualify for their second World Cup tournament, this time held in Qatar. Now that the tournament has ended, I thought that I’d look back at their exploits via the Library’s updated Newsbank subscription, which now includes full image versions for certain titles. To access Newsbank, it is necessary to be an online member in Wales of the Library. See here for more information and here to register. Online members can access Newsbank and the other external resources through the Library’s A-Z of external resource page. They can do so by either being in the Library building or by logging in with their reader’s ticket.
Excitement and expectations were understandably high after such a long absence from the biggest competition in football. Having beaten Ukraine in the play-off finals, Welsh fans could finally look forward to seeing their team perform at the highest stage. In the lead up to the tournament, Dafydd Iwan’s iconic song “Yma o Hyd” was adopted as Wales’ World Cup anthem, and The Guardian interviewed him and other fans to discuss how everyone felt before the tournament.
Here it was, our first World Cup game since 1958! Thousands of Welsh fans had made the trip to be part of the Red Wall, and they and the fans here in Wales were raring for the game to start. However, it looked like the occasion got to the team, and the Americans took a deserved lead midway through the first half. A change was clearly needed in the second half, and the introduction of Kiefer Moore helped get Wales back into the game. With 10 minutes to go, Wales won a penalty after Gareth Bale was clumsily fouled. Bale calmly converted, and Welsh fans went wild. The game ended in a draw, and we had our first point!
After Iran conceded 6 goals in their opening game, Wales fans were quietly confident that they could get a result in this game. With excitement levels growing, the game was shown in schools and workplaces across Wales, due to the 10am kick off. Unfortunately, Iran had other ideas. They were clearly the better side, and they were only denied a goal by a combination of the woodwork and VAR. The situation got worse for Wales after Wayne Hennessey was sent off for clattering into Taremi, suffering the indignity of being the first player of the tournament to receive a red card. It was now a matter of damage limitation, and hanging on for a draw. Wales almost succeeded, but Iran scored 2 quickfire goals at the death to break Welsh hearts.
Having progressed from the group stages in the last 2 European Championships, the chances of doing so in Qatar were hanging by a thread. Any hopes of progressing to the knockout stages were dashed by their English neighbours, and just like that, it was over. Although things didn’t go to plan, this group of players will always be remembered as the team that finally got us back to where all Welsh football fans wanted to be. Diolch bois.
Legal Deposit, Electronic and Acquisitions Librarian
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