Rob Jones

Don’t take me Home was the Welsh football fans Euro 2016 tournament anthem. The magnitude of this tune has now transformed its title in to the name of a movie which celebrates the soaring summer soccer success of the principality.  57 years of failing to reach a major finals resulted in more heartache than is calculable. However, in late 2015 Wales emerged from a competitive group to book their tickets to the latter stages of a competition to be held in France.

Film director Jonny Owen takes the tale back through the years highlighting hurdles that the ‘Red Dragons’ had been unable to clear. All of this upset was not even of the slightest significance when compared to the tragic trauma associated with the desperately sad passing of national team leader and Welsh stalwart Gary Speed. Speedo left this mortal coil on 27 November 2011 and a country was floored by this occurrence. The team he managed were in a rich vein of form and supporters were excited. Nonetheless, all of the on field joy was negated by the loss of the boss and football was irrelevant. The feel of this era is captured in the film and the awkward transition in to the appointment of Chris Coleman that supersedes is pinpointed along with the subsequent loss of direction.

There was an almighty task ahead with the recent past casting a huge grey cloud over any future developments. Things were gradual and Coleman is honest in his appraisal of this problematic period. Even the task of an opening qualifying game against the minnows of Andorra proved to be more difficult that needs be, but the mighty Gareth Bale pulled out that ever trusty magic wand. From there the dark days were not to be forgotten but better, brighter, brilliant experiences were to increase.

Wales recorded an array of breathtaking results and as their fortunesx improve the crowds increase and a new breed of younger fan under the spell of Bale, Ramsey and company sprung forth. The fresh faced followers had not encountered those decades of hurt and a new vibrancy was brought to the games. The spine tingling singing and constant cacophony drove the Dragons on to the French based Euros; and, from there the journey rocketed the red revellers on to win their section and charge on to the semi finals of this prestigious event.

Owen’s script captures the heroes, the humility and the humour. Although one feels that increased interaction with more of those 25,000 well behaved and phenomenally fanatic Taffs could have upped the actual sensation of the adventure. As someone who was in attendance it was a hugely emotional, remarkably rewarding and almost unbelievable trek to unxhartered territories of euphoria. Those meaningless friendlies watched by a sparse crowd at Parc Y Scarlets seemed to be of another world; and, those yesteryear nightmares against the likes of Russia, Romania and Scotland could be erased from the memories of the older hard core aficionado.

The return home to Cardiff brought the public out in their droves to honour those legendary lads who were a whisker away from the Euro 2016 final; and, that celebration closes this Roy of the Rivers reality.
Well done to Jonny Owen for picking up the baton and compiling a creditworthy account of an incredible chapter in the story of Wales, let alone its soccer stars!

To enhance this tale the viewers are also provided with a superb soundtrack that includes: Super Furry Animals, Richard Hawley,  The Small Faces and Mogwai amongst others.