Euro 2016: Love in an elevator

WHETHER you like Cristiano Ronaldo or not, there can be no denying that Euro 2016 was a dull affair. Too long, too many teams and not enough goals. The end of one era and the start of another. So long was Euro 2016 that we are now tip-toeing into a new season without, seemingly, a reasonable break. The Football League starts on August 5 – just 26 days’ time. UEFA will try and tell us that the new 24-team format was a big success. From a financial perspective, it probably was, with the average attendance of 47,594 the best since … Continue reading Euro 2016: Love in an elevator

Geezers 1 Geysers 2: These island races

THE BRITISH are getting used to leaders making resignation speeches full of futile dignity. Frankly, Roy Hodgson could do nothing else after yet another failure by the England football team. That he had a carefully crafted speech, just minutes after the final whistle, demonstrated that he had clearly planned this should his grossly-overpaid gang of millionaires fall on their faces against “little” Iceland. Comparisons with USA 1950 are totally misplaced. The England team in the Brazil World Cup that year had some outstanding players. The current England squad has some talent, but it is still in its development stage and … Continue reading Geezers 1 Geysers 2: These island races

Fans from the real game of the people

I’VE just returned from France and the European Championships. I was fortunate enough to be at Austria versus Hungary game in Bordeaux. After seeing TV footage of Russian and English fans fighting in the street and in the stadium, it was a relief to be among two sets of fans who were clearly enjoying the experience of being at a major competition. What’s really great about the Euros is the fellowship among football fans, not unlike what happens almost every week when you follow the non-league game. People talk to each other, share a few laughs and even buy each other … Continue reading Fans from the real game of the people

Bordeaux Diary: The spirit of ’38, ’84 and ’98

THE morning after the night before. If you happened to wake up Hungarian, you also opened your eyes with a desperate need for coffee and headache pills. Apparently, Hungarian fans had really laid siege on the city centre of Bordeaux and also enjoyed Iceland’s shock 1-1 draw with Portugal. Euro 2016 was taking shape. Predictably, the English fans had dragged their country’s name through the mud, Russian’s hardcore pointed to World Cup 2018 and sent an invitation that read along the lines of, “come and see us if you’re hard enough”, and Germany and Spain started with wins. Hungary’s 2-0 … Continue reading Bordeaux Diary: The spirit of ’38, ’84 and ’98

Bordeaux Diary: Dressed in red, white and black

BORDEAUX got it right when it came to public transport. Just three euros per day on the tram system during Euro 2016. At Grand Parc station we bumped into an artist who was taking her painting of a ball disguised as a globe to an exhibition. She was hoping to find a buyer. “Bonne chance,” we said as she got off with her huge canvas. It was Tuesday and the town centre was buzzing. At 10am, Austrians were dominating the bars and cafes, quaffing Heineken at a special Euro 2016 price of EUR 5 for a large plastic “glass”. Rousing … Continue reading Bordeaux Diary: Dressed in red, white and black