25 YEARS - 1970s

25 YEARS - 1980s

25 YEARS - 1990s

25 YEARS - 2000s

25 YEARS - 2010s


    Click the pictures above for a review of the 70s, 80s, 90s and the 00s.... 

And so to Norway and back to Oslo in 2010. Direct and straight forward flights (Go Norwegian!), a Hotel near the Central Station and easy tram transport to the Venue. We were set for another Contest week. I recalled how cold it had been in Oslo in 1996 but was pleasantly surprised by some beautifully sunny days this year.  A trip out to the Vigeland Park brought some good Norwegian air into our lungs and we were ready for the Contest. The beer was proving very expensive in Norway , but this wasn’t a surprise, after 1996….  

At the Contest … in Semi Final 1, I was disappointed for Latvia , although Aisha was obviously quite nervous and her voice had come across as shaky. In Semi Final 2, I was hugely disappointed for Miro from Bulgaria (one of the best songs in it for me) and we were all amazed that Sweden missed out on the final. What was going on?!  



At the final, Belgium, Spain, Romania , Denmark and possibly Albania were my tips to win. The UK may as well have not bothered with a dreadful song written by Pete Waterman. Josh Dubovie had a great voice, but he was lamb to the slaughter with that song. I was very happy that the Welsh Singer Jon Lilygreen was representing Cyprus , as my Welsh flag could get another outing. Where we were sat (about 7 rows from the front at the side) we could see what was going on stage right and the arguments that occurred after Spain’s disastrously interrupted performance was more gripping than what was going on on stage. I kept thinking ‘ that would not have happened in Moscow ’....  


And what are the odds of sitting down in a venue and finding that the people directly in front of you for the next two rows are good euro friends... Well at Eurovision maybe not such great odds haha.

Another winner followed that I had not considered. Germany was victorious with a very contemporary singer and song – Lena with ‘Satellite’.  I felt indifferent to this as a winning song, but liked the fact that it should appeal to a modern audience. I have long considered that a chart hit out of Eurovision is the best gauge of a song, which is why I am never too impressed when very dated songs are entered.

So, from Oslo to Berlin ? I lived in hope! For a year!  


Germany last hosted Eurovision in 1983 – in Munich . Plenty of reasons were given why not, but the obvious location for Eurovision 2011 would have been Berlin . Bizarrely, they selected the industrial/conference city of Düsseldorf out of 8 options. 

3 presenters would guide the shows, including former German representative and Lena-champion, Stefan Raab. In itself, Düsseldorf is not a very remarkable city, but it is well set up for large numbers of international visitors. The bars and restaurants were plentiful and we enjoyed the social aspect of this contest. Again, the Tram was the preferred method of transport and we spent a good deal of time at the Esprit Arena following the fortunes of this year’s Eurovision crop.  

From Semi Final 1, there were some surprises, in that Poland , Norway , Armenia and especially Turkey , did not make the final. In Semi Final 2, no big surprises, apart from the one that Dana International received on not making the final. This wasn’t a surprise to me though, it was a dire song.  


The UK sent the 90s super group Blue and their song was a great change of tack from the BBC . It was great to go to Eurovision with a song we could be proud of. I was sure we would do OK again - finally.  


At the final, I was convinced that the winner would come from Estonia , Hungary , Bosnia or France , if it wasn’t the UK . It was great to have Italy back in the Contest for the first time since 1997, but I wasn’t a huge fan of this jazz-styled entry. I was in for another surprise. Another winner which I had not even considered and, to this day, I will never understand how it won. Azerbaijan won the Contest with, what was to me, a very bland song. It was also a very Swedish song, so that didn’t really work for me, as I like to hear the sounds and styles from each country, not an ‘off the shelf’ song written by anyone from anywhere. I was also in 2 minds about visiting Azerbaijan in 2012 from a Human Rights point of view. This had never been something I’d had to consider before. I imagine now that I am getting older, my intolerance of dictatorships, censorship and propaganda-style reporting is growing. I also remember reading an interview with the artists that represented Azerbaijan in 2008 where they referred to the artist from another country as their ‘enemy’, continuing to use other derogatory terms about that country. For me, this is not something that fits with Eurovision and decent modern values. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go to a country like that.  



Eurovision however is larger than any nationalistic bigotry and as plans started to be made for 2012, I decided I would make the trip. No visa relaxation available and confusion on how much it would be on arrival and in which currency. I felt that I was going to a country that would gladly refuse entry on a whim almost. I had already been horrified that the Chairwoman of the Organising Committee would be the President’s wife and that the interval act at the final would be the President’s son-in-law. Was Eurovision being used as a political pawn – the EBU said not, but something felt very wrong about all of this.  


They had however, albeit with German ingenuity, built a brand new Concert venue for Eurovision 2012 – the Crystal Hall. That was an impressive feat, but for me it did feel ‘this is what you can do if you have this amount of money and power’.  


I think it’s clear that I wasn’t comfortable about this trip, but I was determined that it wouldn’t take the edge off my Eurovision obsession… I left the travel arrangements a little late and ended up flying to Baku via Qatar – the first time I have left Europe to get to Eurovision. This was going to be a very different experience and I was up for it! Again, a long way from the 11 year old me in Cardiff , but this time feeling more wary than ever before. When the flight from Qatar to Baku flew along the border of Iran with Iraq , I realised that I ‘wasn’t in Kansas anymore’, lol.  


The Hotel was in a great position near the centre of the City and an easy walk to grab one of the 1000 London-style cabs that the President had ordered for the event – all painted purple and covered in Eurovision logos. The City was spotless – and I mean spotless. It had some amazing buildings, new and old, and all the big name stores and boutiques. The local population were very friendly and very smartly dressed at all times. A very modern city that someone described to me as hoping to be the next Dubai . Oil plays a bit part in the Azerbaijani economy. I bumped into some British construction workers who referred to me as having a ‘golden ticket’ to get into the Country. They meant the Eurovision ticket providing an automatic visa. They said it had taken them 6 months to get a visa agreed to work in the country. This wasn’t an open nation and I wondered if the rumours about hotel rooms being bugged were true. They must have been very bored by Eurovision chatter if they were listening to us, haha!  


Back at the Contest, the Semi Finals only threw up 2 surprises for me – that Belarus and the Netherlands failed to make the final. Apart from a Security Guard - of which there were many (one at either end of each row where we sat for the Friday rehearsal) - trying to grab my UK flag off me after I waved it in support of Engelbert, on the whole it was shaping up to be a good final. Who stops people waving flags at Eurovision unless they are blocking camera runs?!  


The final came and the fan seating was pretty abysmal this time. I was convinced that all the immediate rows in front of the stage were probably filled with the nation’s yes people. It all felt weird and I’d be glad to leave the place. Estonia was my big winner this year, but Spain’s Pastora was blowing me away too ….  Anyway, the voting ended up a little boring, with Sweden walking it, but on the whole that matched all the fan predictions. Pretty much everyone was happy with it, as it was a great modern sound with a likeable performer and from a very welcoming nation! Who knows, it could also be a huge international hit - something I've been hoping for for years. 



I left Azerbaijan totally impressed with the local people, a generally good-looking and smiley folk, and with the amenities of Baku. A beautiful city in a perfect location, but as someone said to me, scratch the surface and what will you find? It felt as if everyone was important but nobody was in charge.


So, Eurovision was back in the land of Abba in 2013 and back in a City that I'd visited for Eurovision 21 years earlier. For the second time in four years, Eurovision was taking me back to a City it had already drawn me to, years earlier. Little did I know how disapoointed I would be that this was about to turn into 3 out of 5 years....


After a flight to (and a night in) Copenhagen, a quick slick train journey across the impressive Öresund Bridge and we arrived in Malmö. 

Ironically, the hotel was right next to the Eurovision Venue of 1992, but the 2013 venue was just a short bus trip away...


This Eurovision was going to be different for sure - tap water, coffee and cakes for the working press and standing room only for fans in the Arena. Would these tried and tested euro-legs take the strain?! Haha... We knew that SVT were planning to scale things down from the 2012 no-expense-spared view of things in Baku, but the usual style was on show and many familiar faces from across Europe and the wider fan fraternity were in place. Friends old and new! Great to see Paul Didden again after all these years and lovely to meet Fiona, Sylvia, Edward and Sascha for the first time.


OGAE UK made this trip a little more exciting for me (thanks Simon!) by inviting me along as a token flag-waving Welshman (Bonnie Tyler is Welsh, incase you didn't know) to an interview session with ITV News which resulted in a couple of additional slots from the press centre - some unexpected fun and its always cool to be spotted on TV back home in Brighton and Cardiff.


Song-wise in 2013, Norway, Hungary, Ireland, UK, Russia, Iceland, Belgium and San Marino were hitting the spot for me. I did not rate the Danish song at all, from first listen, but should have taken greater heed to the Poll results leading up to the Contest, but boy, I did not see that win coming.


The Standing up was fine as it turned out, although flag poles were cut down for the final, due to camera-blocking seen at the Semi Finals (my Welsh flag gets a better airing during the Semi Finals this year haha). 


San Marino really should have made the final, as should Albania. The big shock for everyone was Armenia qualifying and the fact that no ex-YU countries made the final - for the first time. Surely, the biggest cheer though came when the Netherlands was announced as a qualifier to the Final - years of Semi Final heartache relieved in one digital envelope!


A big shock for me was that I hardly recognised Malmö as the city I visited in 1992. The Town Hall looked familiar, but little else. It was very strange, although places can look very different when the sun comes out. Some lovely squares and restaurants and an impressive bus service around the City, I was suitably impressed. We all know anyway how hospitable the Swedes are...!


So the Final came and I was hopeful of some success for Wales, in the guise of the delightful Bonnie Tyler. I didn't think we could win, but I hoped for top 5. The finalist performances flew by and we waited with baited breath to see what Europe had decided. 


The Danish win hit me a bit like the AZ win in 2011 - I was non-plussed and didn't understand it. I guess 2013 was the year I finally admitted to myself that I was out of synch with most of the rest of Europe. Ah well, you can't win them all! Denmark won, which was preferable to the second placed option I guess. My big hope had been Norway from the start and the plucky Margaret Berger managed a respectable 4th place. Sadly, our Bonnie didn't grab that top 5 position, languishing in an unfair 19th place. Always an icon in my house, Bonnie!


After some deliberation, DR has decided to hold Eurovision 2014 in Copenhagen at a disused ship building complex. Let's hope they learned well from the 2001 presentation and can bring us a Contest to be proud of - it is after all my 25th trip to a Contest ;-)


Please let 2015 head to Cardiff or Reykjavik or Lisbon or Madrid or Amsterdam or Ljubljana or Brussels ...?


1992 Venue, 2013 Venue, the Öresund Bridge, Ryan and Bobbysocks at a fan night and the flag waving starts


Semi Final 1

Euroclub after Semi Final 1, Some of the Big-5 Rehearse

Semi Final 2 Rehearsal

ITV Interview Session with OGAE UK

Thursday Sunshine in Malmö 

Semi Final 2

FINAL - Press Rehearsal

FINAL - Jury Final (Friday night)

SATURDAY Sunshine in Malmö



SECHUK.COM goes from strength to strength and thank you for your support, and input!


Thanks for reading! Special thanks to Maiken and Vlad!


Love Eurovision! See you in Copenhagen!