The streets of Penarth were virtually deserted tonight as Wales took on Portugal in the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
The atmosphere in the Penarth pubs, where the game was being shown on big tv screens the prevailing mood was notably more subdued than had been during Wales’s celebrated encounter with Belgium last week.
In The Railway pub there was a tense atmosphere almost from the start of the game. In the bar, a packed capacity crowd stood to watch the match .
They cheered every time there seemed a chance of a Welsh advantage – but for the most part people stood quietly, thoughtfully sipping pints as the scoreline stayed stubbornly at Nil – Nil .
Somehow the crowd seemed to have a sixth sense that – despite all their hopes – this might not turn out to be Wales’s night … and they were right .
After a first half with a blank scoresheet, two goals within 180 seconds from Portugal sealed the outcome of the match .
In the 58th minute manager Chris Coleman put on Sam Vokes in place of Penarth’s Joe Ledley in a bid to refresh the Wales attack . Despite all the fervent hoping and – no doubt – praying on the part of the Welsh spectators, however, the Portuguese defence proved impregnable. It was a defeat Wales did not deserve.
Gareth Bale – famous, not least, for playing football on Penarth Pier – said “We’re massively disappointed but we’ve got to be proud of ourselves. We’ve given everything. We tried to enjoy the experience. We want to thank the fans, who have been incredible. We tried our hardest and we’re sorry we couldn’t get to the final. They shut up shop quite well. We have no regrets. We have to be proud of what we’ve achieved.”
Although Wales are out of the tournament the performances of the Welsh team and the fine behaviour of their fans has taken football in Wales to a new level – and bodes well for many seasons to come.