F.A. Cup Final

We’ve just got back from Cardiff.

We decided to try to avoid the usual traffic chaos in the Midlands by heading over to Chester and then making our way down through Wales, with a planned stopover at Brecon on Friday night. This proved to be a very good decision: traffic was light all the way and the journey through the Brecon Beacons was very pleasant indeed. 🙂

Brecon itself looked quite pretty when we arrived, with narrow winding streets surrounding the castle and cathederal, a bit like York or Chester. As we drove around the one-way system trying to find our hotel, we saw plenty of pubs, restaurants and cafe bars. Once checked in, we hit town and discovered, unfortunately, that Brecon is a real rough hole. Friday night in rural Wales is a real eye opener. Some of the pubs were the roughest I’ve ever seen, with the clientele of “The Punch Bowl” worthy of particular mention. It’s definitely not a place I’d want to visit twice. 😯

The next morning we continued on to Cardiff, only an hour’s scenic drive further south. Whilst the radio reports were warning of heavy congestion on the M4, our route down the A470 was hassle free. 😛

After a bit of driving around we eventually found our hotel, the Moat House, who were charging “special event rate” – a whopping £190 per night, nearly four times their usual price. 👿

We dropped off our bags and jumped in a taxi to town, heading straight for the bars in United’s designated half of town. The place was already buzzing with thousands of reds and the atmosphere in the bars and on the streets was superb. We settled in the busy Irish Bar near the Prince of Wales pub, one of the few places you could get in without queuing, and had a few drinks before making our way, via the bookie’s, to the stadium.

Although our seats were right at the back of the top tier, we were positioned almost on the half way line and had a fantastic view of the game. It was a thoroughly enjoyable game, Ronaldo and Rooney were absolutely outstanding, both having numerous chances. Rio Ferdinand had a goal disallowed, I don’t know why, and we also had two good penalty shouts – I haven’t seen any replays yet but I think the referee bottled out of those decisions. 😡

Somehow it remained goalless and went to extra time. I worried that some of United’s players, such as Roy Keane, would be shattered after giving it everything for 90 minutes, but Arsenal showed no ambition at all and continued to play for the penalty shootout. Reyes was sent off with only a couple of minutes to go; Vieira should also have been red carded. 😕

With no score after 120 minutes, the game had to be decided by a penalty shootout. I hate these things, bring back the days of the replays for me. You have to feel sorry for Paul Scholes, the only player not to score from his spot-kick. Arsenal won the game 5-4 on penalties but nobody can deny United deserved the victory. 🙁

After the game we wandered back towards the Marriott and stood under the marquees with a few beers, dishing out verbal abuse to any Arsenal fans daft enough to walk through the United zone, but it was all a bit downbeat. We decided to go for a walk around town and found ourselves in the dingy “Trader’s Tavern” pub, which was bursting with coachloads of reds having a good sing-song despite the result. After a few more beers we hopped in a taxi back to the hotel.

This morning, after a hearty breakfast spoiled by classless gooners in their brand new replica shirts, we headed back to Mancunia.

Summary: Trophies 0, Moral Victories 1, Miles 435, Alcohol Units 60+, Outlay £500+. Was it worth it? Every penny. 😎

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