2

My Euro 2016 - Unbelievable Jeff, Human Tsunami and the Brexit Cafe

Monday, 18 July 2016



So that’s it, Euro 2016 is over. In truth, not too many tears will be shed as a bit like this blog, the whole tournament was pretty underwhelming, and only punctuated with brief bits of quality.  As much of the football has been forgotten I will instead write a few words about my Euro 2016 experience which may have been slightly more interesting!

I actually landed tickets for what turned out to be the quite a good game between Croatia Vs Czech Republic in Saint Etienne but thankfully this was trumped by my friend Rob having snaffled tickets for both the Quarter Final in Paris and the Semi Final in Marseilles.

A quick glance at my wall chart told me that both of these games were for the right hand side of the draw. This in essence meant that for me to see England play in Paris they would have to finish 2nd in their group.  This was clearly never going to happen as England were expected to top the group in comfortable fashion.

However, England did the inevitable and made a right pig’s ear of things and finished 2nd behind Wales. A game against Portugal beckoned only for a last minute Iceland goal in their final game to set up a tie with England. So as we saw it, the footballing gods had conspired to ensure that England only had to beat Iceland to mean that I would get to see them in Paris.

I don’t need to remind anyone what happened in that game. So down to that diabolical performance I would instead be watching France vs Iceland at Saint Denis, Paris.



Prior to that though, on Saturday, the day of our arrival, was the Germany vs Italy game so we headed over to the fan park under the Eiffel Tower to sink a few beers and take in some of the atmosphere. The game itself was hardly a classic and with the game heading towards 90 minutes, it was clear that extra time beckoned.

Now anyone who knows me that well (which is not that many of you) will know that I have had some possible nearish death experiences such as the Asian Hillsborough, near Death on Death Road in Bolivia and also the Tsunami scare in Thailand.

Little did I know that another would be added to the list as a Human Tsunami all of a sudden appeared out of nowhere and starting charging towards us, with hundreds of people falling to the ground. I managed to stumble to safety whilst Rob managed to turn into Usain Bolt and spring it out the park

A quick look around suggested to me it was a false alarm so I wanted to watch the extra time and penalties. Rob was less certain so I arranged to meet him again after the game

This didn’t seem to make the news everywhere so to prove I am not fibbing, here’s footage of what actually happened.


The next day was the France vs Iceland game so we did a bit of walking around and saw some of the sights. Bizarrely, in the morning, Jermaine Defoe made a brief appearance to serve us breakfast!


Prior to leaving the hotel, a news article alerted us to the fact that a suspect package had been detonated outside the stadium, just exactly the news that we wanted to hear.

The game itself was right at the other end of Paris and the weather took a turn for the worst as approached the stadium. As expected, security was tight so had to go through about five security searches before being let in which was understandable



The stadium was better than I had anticipated, and Rob had landed absolutely plum seats, right in amongst the French fans. Fantastic atmosphere and a goal fest to boot with a rampant French side putting aside a plucky Iceland side 5-2.  Queue wild celebrations in Paris.

The next day I covered a bit more of Paris and caught up with my old flat mate Ryan for some food in the Latin Quarter. I then managed to successfully sprint it back to see the Arc de Triomphe in all its glory. Beautiful



The next day we headed to Marseilles via the train to watch the Germany vs France semi-final.  The apartment we stayed in was as French as they come, and was being let out of French artist, who we never actually had to meet thanks to the wonders of Air B and B. The apartment was in a really nice area called Le Panier, if you think of a Shoreditch/Camden type area except with less beards and skinny jeans.



A short stroll from the Old Port area I was hoping to catch up on some Chair Throwing Olympics as seen on the news a couple of weeks earlier but with few English and Russian fans, things were pretty serene.  We did pay a trip to the Queen Victoria pub as of course we had to. 




However, drowning our sorrows over England’s terrible performance was not particular cheap as the pound had taken a battering after Brexit.  Talking of which, we saw this place there just to rub my nose in it even more.




Having arrived a little late we didn’t managed to get any food until after 10pm and the initial restaurant actually was unable to serve us food so we moved to the next one we could find. As we were tucking in, Rob mentioned that he had heard a group of lads shout out the name Chris Kamara.  I looked over and there was the moustachio’d legend, cunningly disguised in a trilby
Being the loser that I am, I immediately rushed over for a photo and a quick chat. “What did you make of England?” I asked him. “Well there where shit weren’t they” was his retort.

I went back to finish off my meal and it seemed that one of the lads he was chatting to was from Norway. “ I signed a Norweigan once when I was a manager” said Kamara, “And he was shit”. Classic Kammy!



The next day we did a bit more sightseeing and ventured up to the local cathedral to get some great views of the city as you can see below.  At night time, we buried a few more beers with the big game just 24 hours away


The next day we went to see one of the Islands of the Count of Monte Cristo fame (look it up) and caught some rays. A slight panic ensued when we returned to find we could not get in the flat but we managed to sort it out to make sure we picked up the tickets, although we were unsure if we would be able to get back in after we returned from the game. Boy do I love a bit of drama.

The Velodrome was again quite from us so we decided to get the tube there. However, poor organisation meant that the tube became quickly overcrowded and before you know it, I was close to succumbing to another human tsunami.  At least 10 tubes went past which were so packed that not one person could get on. Rob decided to pull rank so we gave up and instead walked the rest of the way which turned out to the right decision as it allowed us to have a couple of beers on the way and soak up some of the atmosphere.



A ridiculous walk eventually got us inside the stadium and again we had some great seats and we surrounded by a mixture of both French and German fans.  



The game itself was largely dominated by the Germans but the game turned when the penalty was awarded in the 45th minute. I would say that about 99% of the people inside the stadium did not know why it was given but Griezemann notched and he added another just after the break to seal the win. I would say that without doubt it was one of the best atmospheres that I have been involved in (not quite topping WBA vs Palace though in 2000) and arguably we had seen the biggest game of the tournament.  The French squad finished with a nice rendition of the Volcano Clap


We headed back into town and the streets were really pumping. The walk was pretty long but we managed to sink a few beers with the locals, although most of them seem partied out. The German fans had also disappeared pretty quickly after their defeat but fair play to the majority that stayed out.

Of course, there were some English fans as well, here with a rendition of the Kolo/Yaya Toure classic




So that’s it, my Euro 2016 excursion was over.  Probably the first and last football and tournament I will be going to. Qatar and Russia? Do me a favour!

On a personal note, it’s time to hang up my boots with regards to this blog. It’s been a fun 10 years but it’s now time to consign this to the footballing cemetery in the sky.

Thanks for reading!

Sunil

(P.S I had to omit some of the details of what actually happened as this is a family friendly blog!)





2 Responses to "My Euro 2016 - Unbelievable Jeff, Human Tsunami and the Brexit Cafe"

Anonymous Says:

It'll be missed buddy! Maybe roll it out for major tournaments?

Cheers

Ryan

bezalek bezal Says:

A lot of interesting information about the world of football I read online - http://livesports.one/