Euro 2016: Raspberry Awards

Ed Wade presents his own version of the Euro 2016 Raspberry Awards.

By Ed Wade.

Euro 2016 has come to an end. It has been a great tournament with lots to take away from it. Although there hasn’t been the same amount of flair or quality as previous European Championships, it has been brilliant for various other reasons. Portugal caused a stir by winning it, Wales were a revelation dismantling Belgium to get to the semi-finals and Iceland were the underdog heroes of the tournament knocking out England, the sick men of Europe.

So, there will be a team of the tournament, a player of the tournament, a goal of the tournament. All great accolades. But which players made a mess of things? Which coach was cringeworthy on the side-line? Which player crumbled on the penalty spot? Who will get the unwanted Raspberry awards?

Cringeworthy Coach

One of the world’s renowned international coaches. An exemplary presence on the touchline. Fashionable, young and intuitive, but yet again caught with his hand down his trousers, under his armpit and picking his nose and then eating it? It is still baffling to see players and coaches get caught out, especially considering the thousands of cameras that are on them throughout the course of a game. This time however, Germany’s Joachim Loew took it to another level.

Ridiculous Haircut

This was a difficult choice. International football tends to bring out some of the most absurd haircuts and Euro 2016 was definitely not any different. But it is Ivan Perisic who takes the prize. Being patriotic is one thing, but putting a  pattern that resembles a dish cloth on the side of your head certainly wasn’t a good look for the Croatian winger. Wales’ Aaron Ramsey was a close second – a haircut that was subsequently copied by many a Welsh youngster much to their parents annoyance.

Worst Penalty

The Italy-Germany Quarter Final encounter was a bit of an odd one. Both teams played very tactically and astutely, effectively cancelling each other out. But it was the penalties that were rather unique, both the Germans and Italians are known for being good from the spot, yet most of them were awful. So it has to be Simone Zaza who takes the award, with an absurdly over the top run up, to then hoofing the ball over the top.

Biggest Miss

Raheem Sterling had a tough time out in France. A seemingly decent performance against Russia was heavily criticised, before being dropped in the final group game. He got plenty of stick from pundits and fans. His new manager Pep Guardiola even rang him to just keep his chin up. But it was his miss against Wales which set the tide for things, squared, six yards out, spanked over the top.

Flamboyant Fans

Republic of Ireland, The Green Army, are always a pleasure to have at a major tournament and they did not disappoint this time around! With all the fan trouble at the start of the championships, the Irish were a breath of fresh air, dancing and chanting with opposing supporters. The Wales and Icelandic supporters have to get a special mention, who were also terrific!

Dullest Team

Unfortunately, there were quite a few teams to pick from. Things weren’t exactly gung-ho for most of the tournament. A lot of the teams played defensively and tried to counter, this was hardly easy on the eye for viewers. With plenty of teams to go for, it has to be Ukraine who take the award. The only team who failed to score a goal, I think they attacked for about 30 minutes of the whole tournament.

Best Player

An incredibly difficult choice. People will obviously have varying views and opinions. But I have brought the decision down to a couple of key factors. How much of an impact the player had whilst remaining a team player, the ability and desire of the player to help drive his team forward. With this in mind, surely Gareth Bale has to take the accolade. He was instrumental for Wales throughout the tournament, scoring three and assisting another. With such a hefty price tag placed on his shoulders it would be easy to see how he could have an ego. But the Welshman was a team player through and through, whilst being a huge driving force for the dragons.

Best Captain

A difficult choice and perhaps a contentious one, but the leader of the winning team has to take the award. Cristiano Ronaldo, the Real Madrid maverick had a mixed tournament, growing continually frustrated during the group games acting like a petulant child at times, but you can see within the Portugal team just how much of a leader he is. The passion and desire shown during the final against France put to bed the claims that he only cares about himself. He was almost like a second manager on the touchline after coming off injured and was in tears at the final whistle.

Magical Moment

Iceland beat England. The minnows of the tournament claimed one of the greatest scalps in international history. A nation with a population of only 330,000 pulled one over a so called footballing nation! The Icelandic celebrations were something that could give you goose pimples.

Goal Of The Tournament

Again this will be down to preferences and opinion. However, Xherdan Shaqiri managed to put away the best technical goal of the tournament. It was an outstanding strike in the last 10 minutes of the game against a Poland side which hadn’t conceded all tournament. A bicycle kick from 18 yards out by a player who is only 5ft 5in!

Team Of The Tournament

This accolade once again has to go to Wales. They were terrific as a unit right up until the Semi Final, where crucial suspensions seemed to take it’s toll on the side. Each player knew the role they had in Chris Coleman’s favoured 3-5-2/5-3-2 system and no player was bigger than the team. For a nation who had not been to a major finals since 1958, it was a fantastic achievement to be the last home nation and to make it as far as the semi-finals, and the fans really didn’t want to go home.


Euro 2016: Loyalty Counts For Nothing

When it comes to Euro 2016 tickets; Loyalty counts for nothing.

By Tommie Collins.

Thousands of Welsh fans have been bouncing around in excitement ever since that unforgettable October night in Zenica, Bosnia when the national football team qualified for the forthcoming UEFA Euro 2016 finals in France.

This week has seen many face disappointment or ecstasy when ticket application emails  arrived with the best or worst news of the year.

For the loyal fans that had travelled the length and breadth of Europe for many years; they thought – unwittingly – that the FAW [Football Association of Wales] Points system would have been enough for them to gain the tickets they had requested.

Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Firstly, the main problem is the paltry allocation that individual countries were given for the matches. The same happens in the UK for the biggest sporting occasions. Tickets are set aside for hospitality and sponsors which results in tickets being taken away from those that deserve them most.

You could argue that stadiums for the championships should have more capacity, as only two in France hold over 60,000 – The Stade de France at St Denis holds 80,000 and Marseille’s Stade Velodrome holds 67,000.

Welsh fans applied for 52,160 tickets with an initial allocation of 17,700 that was then increased to 21,177.

As in any instance when a team does well, it attracts people who possibly have rarely attended a match. It happens with numerous football clubs when they reach a final. A ticketing system is put in place that ends up only satisfying a fraction of the demand.

But, it seems that UEFA’s system was flawed. There were various ticket categories and there were two different systems. One was buying individual tickets for matches for all categories 1,2,3 and 4 – with 4 being the cheapest.

This category was heavily subscribed. The other choice was a ‘follow my team’. This was only for cat 3 or 1. It now seems that there wasn’t enough tickets in this scheme to satisfy all that applied, and many loyal fans went down this route.

The FAW’s stance is that UEFA should have informed them of this. As a bit of constructive criticism, its worth remembering this was a learning curve for all, possibly more points should have been awarded for the away games.

Therefore, many fans that recently joined the Welsh Supporters Club or bought tournament or half season tickets went for single tickets and were successful, it seems.

With allocations of 8,969 for Wales v Slovakia (Bordeaux) – 5,202 for England v Wales (Lens) and 7,002 for Russia v Wales (Toulouse) respectively, it’s plainly obvious it wasn’t enough to satisfy the demand. In an ideal world, participating countries would get half the stadium allocation.

However, them days are sadly gone.

Some of the unfortunate, but loyal, Welsh fans that are without tickets for France will be attending the forthcoming friendly match against Ukraine in Kiev on March 28th.


This ultimately proves that loyalty certainly counts for nothing.


See also –

Increased Europa League Ticket Prices. Why The Surprise?

3G Pitches Report

Athletic Bilbao – Deep In Their Roots, But All Flowers See The Light


Gareth Bale Absence to Suit Club and Country

Here we look at Gareth Bale’s absence from the Wales squad for the upcoming friendly against Holland this Friday.

By Tommie Collins.

The Cardiff City Stadium looks set to welcome the Oranje for what should be a mouth-watering encounter tonight.

However, is the friendly all it seems on paper?

It’s been an astonishing turnaround in Welsh fortunes over the past eighteen months whilst the Dutch have suffered utter capitulation ever since the impressive showing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Wales qualified for Euro 2016 with a game to spare – our first tournament since 1958. The Dutch failed to even manage a play-off place.

However, the crux of this piece is whether Gareth Bale should have been part of the Welsh squad for the upcoming game.

Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale will be missing for the clash despite making his comeback from injury at the weekend in a 3-2 defeat against Seville.

Incidentally, he also pulled out of the last game against the Dutch back in June 2014 citing a leg injury he had been nursing.

Many others and I were not best pleased by his decision back then.

It seemed as though we had another Ryan Giggs on our hands – someone I’ve been critical of in the past for shunning his country numerous times when friendlies came calling.

To make matters worse, Gareth Bale went on a publicity-jaunt to Indonesia of all places during that particular international break.

This was a time when the Welsh squad needed him as we were far from being the finished article.

Nevertheless, I honestly feel that Gareth Bale can be excused for this match as he has almost single-handedly got us through to France.

I expect Chris Coleman to experiment a little to get a better feel of his squad ahead of this summer’s tournament. I believe the internationals pencilled in for spring needs a steady squad in place ready for France.

Last week saw Chris Coleman build on his ever-increasing cult following. It was fantastic to see him taking a stand against Arsene Wenger for his criticism of Wales playing Aaron Ramsey for the full ninety-minutes against Andorra.

Although when it comes to Gareth Bale, we have to think about our long-term relationship with Real Madrid. His record speaks for itself; therefore we need to be slightly cautious.

Angen cadw’r ddesgil yn wastad’ as we the Welsh would say.

However, it’s refreshing to see us standing up to big-club managers. We were pushed around for many a year by Sir Alex Ferguson when it came to Ryan Giggs but it now seems a distant memory.

Another burning issue with this friendly is the chosen day. It means a long post-work Friday night drive along the A470 for many of North Wales’ loyal supporters.

With Uefa setting the dates I understand that friendlies could have been played on the Saturday. It would have proved a great opportunity to make it slightly easier for those who live beyond the South Wales divide.

I know of many loyal fans who are struggling to make this match due to them using up their work-holiday allocation for the recent qualifiers.

A missed opportunity of sorts, perhaps?

The U21’s match against Armenia at the Bangor University Stadium further complicates matters. It kicks off at the awkward time of 2pm that proves to be another kick in the teeth for the ever-faithful North Walians.

For future reference, Saturday slots would do the trick whilst I hold hope that Gareth Bale’s absence from the friendly fold will be temporary – not permanent.

Keep the faith.

Tommie Collins.

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