As I sit here sipping my cafe con leche, in the bright Catalan spring sunshine, all the talk in “La Ramblas Cafe” is of Messi and Suarez, no one here cares about Sam or Jamie, but my heart is in Cardiff today, it is strolling up Queen Street, decked out in red and green, taking in the sights and smells and ambling past the array of newly born daffodils outside the castle.
Then down Westgate Street past the Angel Hotel, ast the programme sellers, and into Park Street where the enormity of the millennium Stadium hits you, as it squeezes itself in between the buildings of Cardiff city centre.
I can picture the boys at “the vale” having a final coffee, and putting in their earphones before boarding the team bus to the millennium stadium.
I you haven’t guessed, I’m in Barcelona, my beautiful step daughter lives here, and it is one of my favourite places in the world, but Wales are playing !!! what was I thinking of.
I’m heading to Flaherty’s Irish bar at Plaza Joaquim Xirau, near the Ramblas, I have been assured that the game is being shown there.
I get on the metro, not a Welsh shirt in sight, even I am not wearing one, an offence that is still classed as treason in Llanelli.
I arrive at the bar, and I am instantly transported to Dublin, green shirts everywhere, even a man in a striped shirt with “Xavi” written on the back has a celtic brogue as thick as a tortilla sandwich.
I squeeze past a red-haired, bearded man who looks like he ate the blarney stone rather than kissed it.
The Guinness is being poured at a rapid rate, the sunshine piercing throug the dark wooded gloom, forms a halo around the pint glass of the black stuff, as the last drops fall like tears on to the creamy head.
There is nothing remotely Welsh in this bar, what I would give for some Brains, (the liquid, not the cerebral kinda) but I need to keep a clear head, so its agua for me.
I’m just in time, the teams run out, now its time for the anthems.
The Irish voices in the bar raise the roof with “Ireland’s call” they drown out the sound of the television screens but, my stomach turns to knots, the stark realisation that Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau is going to be a solo has suddenly dawned on me.
I’ve got to do it, I’ve already turned up without my Welsh shirt, I can’t deny my country again, not here in Spain in front of the green army.
Then I see Sam on the big screen, looking pale and dry mouthed, just like me, my chest expands and I rise to my full 5ft 10ins as I recall the day when Sam Warburton, Yes… THE Sam Warburton called me a legend.
Ok it wasn’t for rugby reasons, but because I gave him a big bar of fruit and nut chocolate at the RBS 6 Nations launch, back in January, But still, I’ll take that !
Anyway, I digress, I can’t let him and the boys down, So I go for it.
All of a sudden the bar is engulfed in a deathly hush, even the volume on the big screens seem to have been muted.
My baritone voice cracks and shakes, like its been hit with a Jamie Roberts tackle and my wonderful national anthem begins to sound like a Bee Gees cover version.
Gwlad Gwlad, I’m nearly there,and at last the ordeal comes to an end.
I sit down gingerly, as I feel the eyes of everyone upon me, staring with a mixture of disbelief and pity in their eyes. But I have no time for self indulgence it’s time to put on my game face