Posts Tagged ‘Euro 2022’

England v Germany, Sunday 31st July 2022, 5pm

August 20, 2022

Harry and I went to watch the England Women’s team at the Riverside back in February. That must have got me on to a mailing list and a few months ago I was alerted to the Euro’s ticket sale. I picked up one for the England game at Southampton that took place on a day when I was already scheduled to be there anyway, and I also got a couple for the final for thirty quid a pop.

As the tournament went on, it looked very possible that England might make it all of the way. Harry never really doubted it, but he’s eleven and without a history of England and the Boro pissing on his chips. So, with train seats pre-booked at the same time as the match tickets, we set off for London.

It all went easily enough and we had time for a pre-match lunch at the pub we were staying in at Kilburn. We only stayed for the one night but it was sufficient time for us to visit the Millenium Dome, or the O2 Arena as it is now known, the next morning and walk across the roof.

I’d initially thought that the safety precautions were a bit over the top but, particularly after descending, I can see why we were required to do the walk clipped to a safety line and with suitable shoes.

We set off early for the game and even with two hours remaining to kick-off Wembley Way was packed. The atmosphere was completely different to that of a men’s game and the game could probably have gone ahead without any policing whatsoever. We were in the ground with ninety minutes to spare and watched some pre-match entertainment from singers who were more familiar to Harry than me.

I suspect that you might be aware of how it went. But, just in case you’ve been in a coma, England went a goal up after a pass and finish that graced the occasion. Germany equalized to take it to extra-time and then England scrambled a winner before indulging in ten minutes of top quality shithousery to keep the ball in the corner and run down the clock.

We stayed for the presentation, celebrations and the inevitable Sweet Caroline before heading out to a packed Wembley Way and then an overheated overground tube without air conditioning. After attending five Wembley finals with the Boro without a win, it was nice to be on the right end of a result once.

England v Northern Ireland, Friday July 15th 2022, 8pm

July 22, 2022

I’m not sure if I’ve arrived at a game by way of a boat before. I probably have, although not after spending a week sailing across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2. I like the relaxing nature of a sea crossing and I managed to get more steps in by lapping the deck than I’d been able to do in the summer heat of the southern US. I still had plenty of opportunities for idling on a deck lounger watching the small birds that follow the boat and the porpoises that flit along the Gulf Stream. One morning there was a pod of whales and whilst most were content to briefly surface and exhale air, one very kindly put on a show of backflips as he passed us by.

On the way into Southampton Docks, we sailed past Marchwood Power Station. I’d worked there for around eighteen months back in 2008/9. It all looked very peaceful at five in the morning and it was interesting to see it all from a different viewpoint, despite me not being able to spot anything that I remembered.

One night after work at Marchwood a couple of mates and I fished at the inlet, despite signs telling us that we shouldn’t. We caught some fish, but they were too small to keep. Even if they had been bigger, I doubt we’d have taken them as there looked to be a fair amount of industrial discharge into the water. I’d like to think that those fish were still swimming around as we passed by this time.

Whilst working at Marchwood I lived a short drive away in the New Forest and enjoyed the sight of wild ponies lolloping around. As we had some spare time, Jen and I spent a few hours in Lyndhurst. There were as many horses around as I remembered, and I pointed out the places in the village that I knew from my stay.

I recalled taking in a game at Totton in the Wessex Premier Division and also an early FA Cup Qualifying fixture at Brockenhurst. For some reason though, I didn’t ever make it along to St Mary’s Stadium and it remained one of the Premier League stadiums that I’d still to tick off.

When I saw the schedule for the Women’s Euros and realized that we’d be arriving in town on a day with a fixture I booked a hotel and waited for the ticket sales. My ticket cost forty quid, which seemed expensive for a tournament that is hoping for full stadiums, but on the basis that the match sold out almost immediately, it looks as if whoever set the prices got it right.

Our hotel was a half hour walk away from the stadium and the route took me across a bridge where I got my first view of the ground. Even with an hour to go to kick-off there were lots of people making their way to the game.

There were sizeable queues at St Mary’s, with a lot of groups of kids, presumably school or sports club trips. There were also a lot more family groups than you generally see at men’s fixtures and far more women and girls. There were also a lot of same-sex couples attending, something that is still not really noticeable in the men’s game. All in all, a diverse attendance and without any undercurrent of violence. There wasn’t much drinking going on and if any of the schoolkids were doing coke they weren’t yet at the stage where they were fighting each other.

 

I had a seat in the east stand, perfect for a view of the sun going down. I got a good view of the play as well and an England performance that, whilst it didn’t quite reach the heights of the eight-nil Norway game, was far too good for Northern Ireland.

There’s a gulf between the full-time and the part-time players but Northern Ireland did their best to keep it tight, holding out until almost half-time before conceding but then quickly shipping a second before the break.

Two early goals in the second half suggested a rout might be on the cards but England didn’t take their chances and, in the end, ran out five-nil winners. Both teams took the applause at the end, with England topping the group and Northern Ireland heading home.