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Fifty Eight
8th June 2016

Fifty eight. A number etched into the minds of every Welsh football fan. 1958 was the last time Wales last qualified for a major tournament. They accounted themselves well, losing in the World Cup quarter finals to eventual winners Brazil.

Fifty eight years of heartache and disappointment followed. Most were spent languishing as no hopers, but we came close a few times only for fate to conspire against us. The hand of Joe Jordan, Steve Bodin's missed penalty, bad luck and misfortune have become synonymous with Welsh football.

Not anymore. Now the new number to remember is 16, Euro2016 and we were invited.

I had always said that no matter where in the world the tournament was held that I would go. I had hoped they would qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but they didn't. So instead it's France and the cities of Bordeaux, Lens and Toulouse.

The next obstacle was getting a ticket. I had not been down to Cardiff to watch them play for a long while. It's a six hour drive away and simply too far, so I had no chance of getting a ticket through the Welsh Football Association. So instead I tried the UEFA ticket lottery. I was successful and got tickets for 2 games in Lyon and St. Étienne. Once the draw was made they turned out to be Ukraine v Northern Ireland and

Then three months before the tournament UEFA gave everyone the opportunity to sell their unwanted tickets and at the same time buy someone else's unwanted tickets.

I spent an entire afternoon checking on-line the availability of games.

Then all of a sudden a Wales game appeared, the one against England. I selected it only to be disappointed when someone had already beaten me to it.

This happened several times until the moment when I clicked on the Wales v Slovakia game and I just couldn't believe my luck when I progressed to the "Purchase your ticket" screen.

My heart was pounding as I completed my details and paid for the tickets.

I just couldn't believe it. We were off to Bordeaux.

 

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