Saturday, 9 July 2016

Euro 2016 - NI V Ukraine

We were in Lyon again running around, frantic amidst the clan of bright green.

Ron: I'm positive there is a bar next to the tram stop
Scarlet: Remember the last time Ron was positive? It took plenty of penicillin to sort that out

No one laughed at Scarlet's joke.

The plan was simple, watch the England V Wales game and then after head over to the stadium to catch the Northern Ireland v Ukraine match in the ground, the gap between the games was an hour and no red blooded England fan was going to miss the England game that day.

10 minutes later we had ascertained 2 things:

1. There is no bar near the tram stop in that part of Lyon
2. Ron is a complete berk.

After a typically dynamic rant from Scarlet as to 'why I listen to any of you morons' a frantic search around the city was done for a bar showing the England game, aside from Glyn who was determined to sample the pre match over at the stadium.  I don't know what he was on about, how much noise could 8,000 Irishmen make?

Back in the city the rest of us had nestled into a small bar about a 10 minute walk from the train station next to a shopping centre that resembled a Custard Cream.  The clientèle in the bar seemed to be bent strongly towards the English, with a solitary mouthy Welsh fellow who regretted his reaction to the Wales goal by the time the final whistle went.  This tournament is not one that England will look back on with too much joy, so let us enjoy this which is sadly the only real highlight for the English:

Any Englander who watched that game will remember that day forever and it left us in a rather good mood for the game ahead, particularly given the nature of it, the atmosphere was considerably more relaxed than the earlier games and to Scarlet it was abundantly clear why.  You see the Northern Ireland fans were just happy to be at the party, however the game went they were already winners!  Perhaps this is the sort of thing that the English mentality with its lofty ambitions has lost over the years, if we turned up proud of our nation and decided that just by being there we had won the battle then shouldn't that be enough?

We got on the tram and up to the ground, as God Save the Queen rang out around  the passion ran high and the 'Gree-White (one syllable somehow) army' taught us how to sing Ulster style, the game was electric with a fantastic result, and the Green wall of Northern Ireland sang as passionately as anyone, with a well earned win under their belt the Irish marched on.

First England and now the Irish?  It felt like everything was going terribly well, we only got caught up waiting for a tram for 30 minutes and were back to the Villa for midnight.

Whilst in bed that night I remember the stirrings from such an emotional day, and that feeling that our United Kingdom was having its finest hour in international football ever.  It seemed inevitable that one of our teams would go far, my only doubt was Wales.  They had been beaten and looked broken at the end, surely that was their chance to shine? And they blew it.

Tail between my legs, sulking in my bedroom this is Scarlet signing off for now...

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