Tuesday, June 27, 2006

England: it was bad as it looked on the telly

England allocated an extra 560 tickets to their regular supporters and Angela from the West Stand was one of the lucky ones. Here is her report:

The one thing we were struck by when we got into town was the number of touts openly selling tickets for the game. Normally you have to work hard to find a seller but that certainly wasn’t the case in town. However that was nothing in comparison to the situation outside the ground. In the ten minute walk up to the first cordon there were several guys standing openly with half a dozen tickets in their hands – I don’t know what they were going for or why so many were so easily available but you didn’t’ have to look hard at all. One theory is that with such fabulous facilities in town (big screens and bars open and serving throughout the games) that a lot of fans aren’t even bothering to try and get into the grounds, preferring to stay in town, enjoy the atmosphere there and save their money for the beer.

For the first time security was tight, bags were searched and all manner of things were confiscated. They took our water, our evian spray, our umbrella (being used as a sunshade) and looked long and hard at our England party poppers before letting them go through (ironically we didn’t feel there was any point in the game when it would have been appropriate to use them anyway).

It was another impressive ground and we were sitting up in the “category 1” seats – supposedly the best ones in the ground – but we were sitting very high up and although the view was great, we felt miles away from the pitch. The heat was incredible and seemed to get trapped in the ground making it really uncomfortable. To make matters worse we were sitting behind a group of mouthy scousers who had clearly blagged their way in with fake id’s and then proceeded to argue amongst themselves at one point almost coming to blows over a broken mobile phone. Even worse was the guy sitting along the row from us who, when Beckham scored, grabbed the Ecuadorian kid’s flag sitting in front of him and proceeded to taunt him with it before giving it back. Worse again was the foul language he reserved for two young Japenese girls who sat in front of him. Unfortunately the heat sapped all energy and I just couldn’t be bothered to take him on.

The game was awful to watch. I don’t think I have ever felt so miserable watching England play. The crowd were incredibly restless and no-one sitting in our area seemed to be enjoying it. The frustration with the team in general and Sven in particular was at boiling point. We didn’t know about Beckham’s nausea but despite yet another poor performance the fans remain very loyal to him, and I guess that was rewarded by the goal. The player most people seem to be losing all faith in is Frank Lampard, and the player we most want to see more of is Aaron Lennon. It seemed to us that Hargreaves at right back didn’t really work and that we really need to play two up front. The mood coming out of the ground was – frankly – miserable and I was quite surprised when I heard from home that the view of the game was far more positive. I must be honest I wasn’t aware of Michael Carrick at all and so have been shocked to find that the consensus is he had a good game and should play again. As we walked back to our car, frustratingly the temperature plummeted and the rain started to fall – all of a sudden it was a delightful evening in southern Germany, nothing like the hot house it had been all day.

We left Stuttgart shortly after the game and drove back into France so didn’t see all of the Portugal Holland game and had no idea of the fiasco it descended into. I guess it’s got to be positive for us and by the time we read the papers on the ferry yesterday afternoon, I felt a lot better. I did temporarily consider not going back for the quarter finals (again, at this stage we don’t have a ticket), but that was momentary and the ferry is now booked for early Saturday morning.

Surely it can only get better?


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