Toshack – put up or shut up with the Millennium Stadium

Posted on August 30, 2010


By Luke James

THE FA of Wales are ready to switch the England match to the Cardiff City Stadium from the Millennium Stadium, the Western Mail reported this week.

Toshack has been pushing for national team games to be switched to the more intimate Cardiff City Stadium for some time, believing that playing at a half empty ground where supporters struggled to make an atmosphere had a part to play in the sides poor performances.

And when Aaron Ramsey inspired Wales to a three goal demolition of Scotland at the CCS in November it seemed to prove Toshack’s point. The former Real Madrid man got his way when the FAW announced the qualifying matches against Bulgaria and Switzerland would be played at Cardiff’s smaller venue.

Now Toshack wants what could be the biggest game of his reign against neighbours England there too and the FAW are ready to concede a bumper pay day from a clash at the Millenium Stadium at his bequest – if Wales get a good result at Tosh’s favoured ground against Bulgaria next month.

But I believe the FAW should stand their ground and tell their man to get on with coaching the players. In the past the Millennium Stadium has been a fortress for Wales and it can be again.

Davies celebrates after his snap shot gives Wales the lead against Italy

It was seventy-two thousand fans who roared Wales to 2-1 win over Italy and more than seventy-three thousand who turned out to see a rout over group minnows Azerbaijan.

During Mark Hughes’ era it was crowds like this that made Wales, a country of under three million people, the best supported country in Europe. Needless to say it was success that brought the eyes of the Welsh media and public to a team who had been watched by just ten-thousand at the Millennium Stadium against Belarus just months before.

Toshack doesn’t have the luxury of having premiership players to call upon like Hughes did, but with starlets like Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale shining for Wales another golden era could be just around the corner.

Some of Wales’ best results under Hughes’ leadership were achieved in a half empty Millennium Stadium. Robert Earnshaw’s debut goal that clinched a friendly victory over Germany was watched by thirty-six thousand, a 4-0 triumph over Scotland watched by fourty-seven thousand.

When Wales are playing well the Welsh public will fill the magnificent Millennium Stadium and inject much needed cash back into the grassroots game.

Some of our poorest results under Toshack’s leadership have come at a stadium of just over twenty-thousand, Swansea’s Liberty Stadium, where Wales have most recently slumped to losses at the hands of Georgia and Sweden.

There was a time when Toshack and key players were calling for competitive games to be moved to Swansea or even to Wrexham’s aging Racecourse ground.

More to the point, it’s not like taking England to the Cardiff City Stadium will give us a distinct advantage. The Bluebirds ground has all the modern comforts a pampered footballer expects and resembles most English Premier League grounds.

What stadium Wales are playing at is not what Toshack should concern himself with, Wales won’t gain any advantage from playing at the Cardiff City Stadium and we know that a packed Millennium Stadium has fired Wales to success before.

I will leave the final word to Craig Bellamy. Speaking after Wales’ dismal defeat at the hands of Finland in last season’s qualifying campaign he said: “It’s up to us to bring in the fans, of course, and, if we do something with regards to qualifying, they will come in vast numbers. Then the Millennium would be perfect.”