Monday, 6 August 2012

Olympics - part 3

(after extra time; 4-5 on penalty kicks)
Men's Football Tournament - Quarter Final
Saturday 4th August 2012

My third and final London 2012 Olympic experience is a three hundred mile round trip to Cardiff. The Millennium Stadium is one stadium that I have been wanting to visit for a while, so when the chance came up to get some tickets for a game here, I opted for this over another quarter final at St. James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Like for the games the previous week at Coventry I went for the cheapest tickets which came in at £20 each.

The Millennium Stadium was built in 1999 and replaced the old National Stadium which stood on the same site. It has a capacity of 74,500 and the first event at the new stadium was on the 26th June 1999 when Wales beat South Africa 29-19 in a rugby union international. The total cost of construction of the stadium was £121m and is owned by Millennium Stadium Plc, which is a subsidiary company of the Welsh Rugby Union. The stadium is home to the Welsh national rugby union team, but also hosts Welsh national football games and the Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain.

As we would be driving down to Cardiff I checked on the stadium's official website in regard to parking etc, and the advise was to contact Cardiff council to reserve a space for the park-and-ride facility at Cardiff City Football Club. An e-mail was sent on the 13th June requesting a reservation  with the reply coming just a day later confirming this. We arrived at the park-and-ride facility at around 5pm with no problems on route after stopping on route to watch another game of football - a 1st round tie in the Gwent Senior Cup between Newport Civil Service and Monmouth Town at the Civil Service Sports Ground at Bettws.  The reservation we had was not needed and the process was like in London yesterday, smooth and efficient.

After getting off the bus on the other side of the stadium to our entrance point the heavens opened, and boy did it rain. Impressive is about the best way I can describe the Millennium Stadium. Even though it is thirteen years old it is not showing any signs of it, and it is a fantastic sight. We had tickets for the back of the bottom tier near the corner flag, and despite this we had a good view of the pitch.

Unfortunately the game did not match the stadium and the atmosphere with it being an absolute stinker. In fact it is doubtful I will see a worse game all season. The GB team looked devoid of any idea how to break the Koreans down, though their opponents were not much better. Korea settled quicker and looked dangerous with GB goalkeeper Jack Butland making a flying save. It came as no surprise when they took the lead on twenty-nine minutes with a Ji Dongwon shot going through the arms of Butland. The lead lasted just seven minutes as the home nation were awarded a penalty. Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey stepped up and levelled the scores. A few minutes later and another penalty was awarded to GB but Ramsey had his spot kick saved. 

There was an air of inevitability that the game would be decided by kicks from the penalty spot and this proved to be the case. The first eight were all successfully converted before Daniel Sturridge had his saved by Lee Bumyoung. This left Ki Sungyueng to win the game and he made no mistake to give Korea a sem-final match with Brazil.

When the game ended we decided to walk back to the park & ride which took us about twenty minutes, and we were back on the M4 soon afterwards and home in Leicester at 1am

Another long but enjoyable day and this completes my London 2012 Olympic experience.

Photos of the Millennium Stadium can be viewed in the first slideshow, while ones of the afternoon game at Newport Civil Service FC in the second:

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