AT last the waiting is over.

At 5pm today, Wales will consign 58 years of hurt to the dustbin of history with the kick-off of their Euro 2016 finals campaign against Slovakia.

Given the penchant here for milking the ‘years of hurt’ phrase for all its worth, a new one will be required.

Hopefully that won’t have to be ‘90 minutes of pain’ when the final whistle is blown. It is about time the word ‘joy’ was used in a catchphrase to do with Welsh international football

At least there is now some action to watch on the field.

The past couple of weeks have seen television screens and radio broadcasts packed with ageing former footballers spouting their tuppence-worth of views on everything from Joe Ledley’s broken leg to Chris Smalling’s lion.

Everyone from former England defender Danny Mills to ex-England manager Terry Venables’ erstwhile right hand man Ted Buxton have been having their say.

Former England, Wales and Northern Ireland internationals have been having their say, some of whom, it pains me to admit, I thought were dead (I won’t say who).

I love football, but if I hear terms like 3-4-2-1, 3-5-2 and 4-4-3 again, I may do something I come to regret.

Of course, last night those of us of a more showbiz bent no doubt gloried in the otherwise pointless exercise that is the opening ceremony.

Quite why we need such an extravaganza to remind us that there is a major sporting tournament about to begin is beyond me, when it has been dominating sports reports and programmes for weeks.

Still, football bigwigs like these sorts of things, because they can sit there in the exclusive padded seats and bask in what reflected glory there is left to bask in, in these post-Sepp Blatter days.

Of course these days, one doesn’t have to be particularly good at football to qualify for the finals of a major tournament.

Call me old fashioned, but a 24-team finals is far too big for a tournament which has only Europe as its catchment area.

It seems that the suits at UEFA won’t be satisfied until there isn’t a qualifying group stage at all. Then ‘countries’ – and I use the term as a lazy catch-all, in the knowledge that it can stir tensions in some parts of Europe – such as San Marino, Andorra, even Gibraltar, could in the glory of attending a tournament.

I write this in the knowledge too, that Wales and Northern Ireland would have qualified this time around, even had it been a 16-team tournament which is quite large enough to cram in all the good teams from any given four-year cycle.

Another ill-advised feature of Euro 2016 is that 16 of those 24 teams will qualify from their groups, making it appear more difficult to get knocked out at the first stage than it is to stay in.

No, really, you’ve got to be awful not to qualify. But perhaps that is where the glee is to be had during a painfully drawn-out group stage – which teams are going to be so poor they deserve to be laughed out of France and greeted with a fruit and veg fusillade from disgruntled fans when they exit the departure lounge?

For me, though, what goes on on the touchline will be just as interesting, if not more on occasion, than what is happening on the pitch.

Never mind goal line technology, I am a firm advocate of the concept of coach-cam, and hope UEFA make it compulsory for all televised games in Europe as soon as possible.

That would mean a small inset screen would have to be included in the bottom right hand corner of all broadcast football matches, to capture the foibles of the coaches.

I like the look Albania’s coach, the Italian Gianni De Biasi, who will probably have many statues erected in his honour in his adopted football homeland, merely for steering his team into the finals of major tournament for the first time.

Similarly Lars Lagerback, the Swede who has masterminded the rise of Iceland into something of a force to be reckoned with. He could be good value for a touchline eruption or two whatever the fortunes of his team.

l The majority of us who aren’t actually travelling to France will be watching Euro 2016 at home with family or friends, or in the pub.

Football fans in Cardiff and Swansea will have the opportunity to engage in communal acts of jubilation or despair at fanzones in their respective cities.

Alas not so the good folk of Newport, the idea of a fanzone in the city centre having been formally quashed earlier this week.

Policing concerns appear to have the driving force behind the decision not to go ahead with the idea, and while that is understandable, a strong sense of ‘what if’ remains.

I cannot understand why someone or some organisation or group of organisations did not start to plan – as soon as Wales’ qualification for the finals was confirmed last autumn – for some sort of community event, or series of events through which people could come together to watch the team’s matches in the finals.

Funding for things like fanzones is always a consideration is these continuing straitened times, as is policing.

But while long-term planning cannot always result in these issues being mitigated, a decent timescale helps.

I can’t help feeling that the fanzone idea in Newport came very late, with neither the time nor the collective will to ensure it happened somewhere, whether bang in the city centre or somewhere else.

Occasions like this do not come around very often. That is why so much is made of the idea of ‘years of hurt’. Now that hurt is over, at least for the time being, wouldn’t it have been nice to have celebrated it as a city?