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|First time watching England away|
at 19:38 8 Jun 2019
Bit of a ramble below about my few days in Portugal, all that seems to have been in the media post England match seems negative, so here is my experience.
Its always been a lifelong ambition to see England play away (anywhere). Been to a few fans parks to watch games close to tournament stadiums (Germany World Cup/France Euros) and cracking atmospheres still but still not the real deal is it? I’m not a fans member, so getting away tickets is rightfully a struggle, so jumped at the chance to go to Porto and make a few days of it and see the match after getting some tickets off fans on twitter.
Have to say it didnt disappoint at all, so many positives aside of the bias media coverage during/after that im just catching up on - that was the national disgrace rather than the fans.
From what I saw, in Porto the England fans were a tourist attraction down by the riverside/Ryan’s Irish bar area. There were police there, but they stepped back and it mostly policed itself with a nudge from them where required, police happy to chat - fans on the beer in the sun with flags everywhere hoofing the occasional ball about - you get the scene. Lots of singing, was all good natured. Lots of tourists/locals about videoing it all. It dawned on me that our support, and the way we do it in England, is unique and something we should (in the vast majority) be proud of and celebrate more maybe.
In the evening I was in the big square where the flashpoint made the TV. No journos about from what I saw, they made the story up afterwards from fans footage etc - and of course never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Most of the game in that fans area was reasonably ok, nothing out the ordinary. Near the end a Portugal fans started running in-between the home fans and England with a flag goading them. Something then did kick off, I didnt see exactly what as I was watching the game from the side of the square. The fans I spoke to after said an England fan got glassed to kick it off. I was watching the game and turned away from the screen to see both fans lobbing bottles at each other. The robocop police then charged in and pushed the England fans (they were nt going to charge at there own were they) back up the square to create about 100m of space between the 2 sets of fans - that was it. Everyone continued watching the screen as Portugal scored 2 goals around this time. Job done, most people then went home. Saw some Portugese get arrested, no one reported that, all the media coverage was against us, not the reasons why it started (whatever they were) - no balance at all - but that doesnt sell does it?
On to the game, arriving in Guimares you could see it was not suitable for the match. Train station was an hour from Porto, most England fans (15-20k) and Dutch (4k) arriving by train from Porto that only had 2 platforms. More squares with flags, singing and fun, and again lots of locals filming and soaking up the atmosphere. Met some enthusiastic Americans who loved it and missed their train to soak up more "dont see anything like this in the States – not even the superbowl" and lots of Dutch and a few Swiss (not sure why) mixing about - was all fun and good natured taking photos together.
We went to the ground an hour before kick-off and even then there were ques. The tickets were all on an app, was a faff if you weren’t prepared etc + bag checks meant it wasn’t quick at all to get in. Didn’t see the subsequent crushes / police aggression experienced by some but ground was nowhere near full at the start. Needed to be more warnings by authorities to get fans to venues earlier if using this (new?) tech again (though it was easy to transfer tickets between phones so not all bad).
As for the game, having 90% of the ground for an ‘away’ game then the atmosphere was awesome. Really proud to hear all the songs and fans together. Was amazed 99.99% of the crowd fell silent for the 1 min silence for ex UEFA president Lenny Johansen (didn’t think he had a clean slate on the football authority disease - corruption). Bet the journos had to delete pre written paragraphs about England fans disrespecting him etc.
Having only been to 7 ITFC games last season (D1, L 6, – I live 1.5 hours from Ipswich) then going in front was a novelty, and undeserved, and looking like I maybe could see a victory this season after all. Was impressed with Maguire, Barkley and Kane (when he came on) – they played 'better in the flesh’ than what you see on TV (if you know what I mean). As for the ground, bit like ours in terms of size and feel I thought. Stewarding less far officious than at FPR – you could stand where you wanted – in the aisles was not a problem at all + when it rained most fans in uncovered areas retreated under covered areas. For refreshment, why not buy an espresso (made from one of those little machines you get for xmas but only use twice then bin off) or buy a tuna baguette or a pastry under the stand? Amusingly, you were not allowed to smoke cigars in the ground though, that’s what the signs said. Felt like home at times with the time taken to get served though, as they gave you a lid free drink (of course) it took an age to rip off all the labelling that added to the que length– presumably some UEFA reason for that, I’m glad they had planned well for the important parts of hosting a game at this venue.
Not a problem for us next year, but this was my first experience of VAR at a game. There were great ’scenes’ when we scored our second then the obligatory age to decide if it should be allowed. Killed all the atmosphere and rhythm, probably nothing new from other comments you have read before on VAR. Don’t see why they can’t show replays in the ground – the ref in the ground wasn’t making the decisions so what’s the issue with showing replays / keeping the fans updated during the match?
Didn’t think we deserved to win (you probably though the same), though Stones had an easy header when 1-1 that was the ‘what if’ moment. Post-match, getting 20+K dutch and England fans home from a small station was always going to be a challenge. We left quickly at the end, managed to get on a train before the masses arrived, so didn’t see the 3 hour ques in the rain or police baton action reported by fans at the station– also missed this being reported in the media. The train station building was smaller than the Ipswich one so always going to be a mass squeeze to get everyone through, so I could see why the coppers kept the fans out the building until each train arrived. Wonder if UEFA will learn from this, or assess how they chose an unsuitable venue to start with (barely any hotels/ poor train, airport links) – probably not. Would have been a hell of a lot easier to use the Boavista ground in Porto for this game, think that also held 30k, and could have avoided all the mess with the fans travelling – but when has logic or sense every appeared high up in UEFA decision making?
Really enjoyed seeing fans from everywhere, all the flags, the banter, the positives of the interactions with the locals watching + joining in. 2 Town flags about – Chantry Blues and the one that got stolen (again) doing us proud. Maybe I should nt have been, but was surprised by the diversity of the England fans that were not stereotypically 18-40 year old men on extended stag do geezers (quite a wide mix of age, race and those less able). Briefly sat next to an 80 year old Sunderland fan in the station, fans from loads of clubs – less so the prem, many families as well.
Lots to be positive about than just the narrow view on fans the media choose to report (hopefully that wasn’t a surprise to you anyway). Would jump at the chance to go again.
|Liverpool destined to win the league|
at 18:24 31 Mar 2019
Fitting its during the season there is justice for the 96, would obviously be no compensation for Hillsborough and the pain since.
Some things you cant control, its written in the stars. You could nt begrudge them that at all.
|Premier Passions on Youtube|
at 20:12 12 Feb 2019
Missed this first time around in 1998, BBC fly on the wall documentary of Sunderland s relegation from the premier league years ago.
Worth a watch, not as eye opening into the players or in depth as the Netflix Sunderland till i die but still a decent watch over 5 episodes (slightly grainy footage).
They follow a few fans through the end of the season, with the highs and mostly lows. Some awful fashion/haircuts as you d expect.
Better than watching re runs for the umpteenth time of Cant pay, we ll take away on 5star.
|Another go for Tilt ?|
at 04:32 10 Aug 2018
Blackpool signed another centre back yesterday on a free transfer (Daniel's who was at Wigan last season) so might have been pre emptive as they know Tilt is off to us soon - time will tell !
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