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… And Then More Agony
Rating: (3 Votes)

London, United Kingdom
Jun 04, 2004

Pros: Getting tickets for most of the england matches!!
Cons: not winning the world cup!!

'Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere go!!! The Cross of St. George is flying from car and house windows everywhere, all beer and mobile phone company seem to be running competitions to win tickets and pieces of crap merchandise and the usual football anthem compilations have hit the shops (I've just purchased mine, entitled "Jumpers 4 Goalposts", featuring all the classics, such as "Three Lions", "World in Motion" and, of course, " Vindaloo"). Yes, it's that time that occurs every 2 years (well, as long as the national team is not being managed by Graham "Do I Not Like That" Taylor), when the entire nation goes football crazy and we cross our fingers, hope and prey that our boys can repeat that glorious feat of July 30th, 1966, when we actually won a major sports trophy (of course, we can add November 22nd, 2003 to that long list of triumphs but, however hard rugby tries (no pun intended), football will always be the national sport and a victory would send the country crazy).

I, having done my usual thing of applying for tickets almost a year in advance, have hit the jackpot again and got myself tickets for both England v France and England v Croatia, as well as 5 other matches, some of which I will attend (Portugal v Russia being one) and others where I will flog the tickets to the highest bidder (hopefully to a genuine fan, rather than a Cockney wide boy, with slicked back hair, shades and originating from Peckham). I will be travelling over to Portugal on June 12th with one of my best mates, Dave, and then meeting up with a number of faces from uni and even Taiwan days. I will be returning the homeland after the group stages of the competition on 22nd June, which I hope is not tempting fate for the team. I obviously can't wait to experience the carnival atmosphere of another huge sporting occasion in the host country itself, but I'm also looking forward to seeing the country (UK) come together as it only does during a big sports event, with Euro 2000 being the last time I was actually in the UK during a one of these sporting extravaganzas (hopefully we can improve on that performance, when the only joy was finally beating the Germans at a major tournament)

On the subject of how England will perform in the championships, the heart of course says they will win the whole thing, but the head says another glorious semi-final, penalty shoot out exit, possibly to the Italians. Therefore, my prediction is a repeat of the Euro 2000 final between France and Italy, with that bald headed bloke from Marseille and now Madrid, being the star of the show. But, if Beck's can get his free kicks back on target, if Young Michael can get some decent service (something he is not used to of late at Liverpool) and Roonaldo can prevent himself getting sent off, we have a chance. There's just too many "ifs" in that last sentence for my liking though.

As usual, I will be trying to update the travelogue on a regular basis, in between watching the games, drinking cheap lager, exploring the country, drinking cheap lager, meeting the locals and, of course, drinking cheap lager.

Whichever team you're supporting (and it should be England, even if you're not English), I hope you enjoy the fantastic football, colourful crowds and magic moments from the world's second biggest football tournament.


Jun 27, 2004

Penalties!! The drama, the tension, the theatre, the inability of 7 Englishmen during the last 14 years to score from 12 yards!! Yes, for the 4th time in the last 7 final tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), England have crashed out dramatically on a penalty shoot out.

For me, the Living Room Sofa, Beaconsfield 1990; The Bin, Handsworth Wood Campus, 1996; Bar Med, Beaconsfield, 1998; can now be joined by NW1, Camden Town, 2004, as places where I have suffered some the greatest tensions, stresses and heartaches of my young life. I was joined, as in 96, by my ex uni mates, Fergal and Sicknote, as well as some of my future workmates at Bridge the World.

They've all hurt, these penalty defeats, but this one was arguably the worst of the lot as one honestly felt that if they won this they could go on and win the tournament (although I'm pretty sure I've probably said that after every England defeat over the last 14 years).Throughout the competition, it has only been the Czechs that have really impressed me. All the other teams in the quarter finals had had their moments in the group stages but no team had looked particularly special or unbeatable (in fact 4 out of the remaining 8 had already lost one game).

Anyway, 2 days on, one can reflect a bit and say that the better side on the night did win the match; Sol Campbell's disallowed "goal" may well have been given in the Premiership but probably not in the Champions League or other European competitions; without Rooney, our attack lacked any cutting edge; and finally, you can't expect to win a football match if you can't pass and keep the ball (our midfield players were woeful).

So, there we go. Another painful defeat, another dramatic exit. Our back 4, particularly Campbell and Cole, played a blinder but were let down by the 4 players in front of them, who were supposed to be our main strength.

There is hope for the future in the form of Cole, Gerrard, Lampard and, of course, The Boy Wonder Rooney, and we will be in with a shout of winning the World Cup 2006 in Germany. But we will have to improve our passing game, find someone to play on the left hand side of midfield and learn how to take penalties. And, perhaps most importantly, make sure that Phile Neville never pulls on a England shirt ever again!! (I'm now tipping a Czech Republic v Holland Final with the Czechs winning it).

Till 2006