A Moose in Marseilles: Our man in France for Euro 2016

What a summer of sport we are having, Murray in the Wimbledon final, England whitewashing the Aussies at Rugby & the Sri Lankans at Cricket.  Someone also told us there was a little football tournament on across the channel.  We must have missed it, so we sent our man Jordan Neary to document the almost inevitable English success… erm – whoops! (ED)

A fiver, that is what this coffee has just cost me sat in the departure lounge of Manchester airport about board a plane back to France for the quarter final weekend of Euro 2016. In any normal circumstance I would get a beer but I don’t feel like celebrating.

It’s now the weekend of the final & nearly two weeks since England were knocked out of the tournament by the might of Iceland, who are the smallest country to ever qualify with no professional clubs and managed by a dentist. But nevertheless this is the story of how an intrepid group of us soldiered on in France regardless.  One could say our Moose calling was strong!

The flights, match tickets and apartment in Paris has all been pre-booked and after being in mourning since England’s astonishing early exit the four of us have decided to carry on regardless, oh and if you’re wondering the match I have tickets for is now France v Iceland.

It is absolutely sickening that Roy Hodgson and his excuse for a team have robbed a nation of what would have been a once in a generation opportunity to watch England play a host nation in their own back yard, in the quarter finals of a major tournament – we could have been the party poopers at the Stade de France, instead we have gone home a laughing stock.

I have never been in this situation before with England, where I have financially invested in the team as well as emotionally. This has been my first ever international football tournament and the amount of time and money that goes into following your national team could fund a minor political party (A lot to learn young Padawan – welcome to a lifetime of hurt, heartache & ensuing feelings of resignation) ED.

Luckily I booked all this months ago and whilst paying premium prices I haven’t been ripped off by ticket touts and airlines jacking up the prices.

A guy in duty free I spoke to bought two tickets hours before England’s defeat to the now France v Iceland quarter final for 900 euros and spent £390 on a return flight via two change overs, he still has no accommodation and will be relying on a friend once in Paris.

A small price to pay some might say if England had progressed, however it has never really hit home in previous tournaments when we have gone out that it leaves a trail of disaster for fans who are still at the tournament or yet to even arrive like in World Cup 2014 where the team was out after six days.

At least I got to enjoy the group stages out in the South of France, that is the silver lining I’m clinging to. I watched games in host cities Nice, Lyon, Marseille and Saint Etienne whilst stopping off in the fantastic principality of Monaco.

The best fans I encountered were without doubt the Northern Irish, Icelandic and Hungarians who were an absolute joy to be around, the noise generated by them in the stadiums was something else.

I haven’t seen any trouble at all, I went to the England v Slovakia game in Saint Etienne with both sets of fans in good spirits and the match was played in a party atmosphere, even if it was a putrid 0-0 draw.

This will be my second time watching Iceland and their terrific Viking chant – I saw them draw with Hungary in Marseille so maybe we are kindred spirits, it was meant to be. I head to Paris as a fan of football, the disappointment of Monday a bad dream, England can’t hurt me anymore.

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