Yesterday the snacks were out, the England shirt (amazingly) was on, and the build-up to England’s first match was blaring out in my living room.
I won’t lie, I can’t really remember what was going on in the hour preceding the 8pm start- it didn’t particularly interest me, (apart from watching the England team singing the national anthem to see if they actually knew the words).
And so, they kicked off and the game began…
I’m not going to write a blow by blow account of the whole 90 minutes, (to be honest, I found it difficult to keep track of which player was which, with the exception of the goalkeepers (although it did take a bit of time to figure out which one belonged to which team)). What I did find from watching it was that perhaps it is a little more complicated than a bunch to people running around a field. Even before they called half time and showed you the graphics explaining how the players were moving into spaces to make passes and keep the ball moving, I could see that this was football of a higher quality than I’d seen recently.
The players’ skill was obvious- even to a non-football-fan like me.
And I did find it enjoyable- there was one point when I remarked to my boyfriend that I didn’t like it when the ball went near the England net because it made me nervous, which he pointed out meant that, despite what I have said in the past, I did care somewhat about the outcome.
And I think it’s fair to say that I did care – all the near misses got increasingly annoying, (especially when some truly brilliant play got the ball within inches of the goal), so it was great when we finally got the ball in the back of the net.
It was also utterly infuriating when Russia got their last minute equaliser during extra time.
However, as it turned out, that wasn’t the worst of it. Seconds after the final whistle violence erupted in the stands. It seems that tensions had been running high all day, and the newspapers have reported that it wasn’t just English and Russian fans that have been involved in such fights, supporters from other countries have also been involved in various altercations.
I don’t wish to give those unfortunate events too much attention because I feel it has already marred what is supposed to be a great event. Football is a universal sport – in a way it’s multi-lingual, kick a ball to someone from another country and they will inevitably kick it back. The Euros, and the World Cup come to that, is about nations coming together to watch a sport that so many people love, and supporting your country. Violence should never come into the equation, and I hope that those supporters out in France remember that and concentrate on supporting their teams and letting their players know they are behind them.
Unlike my football loving boyfriend, I don’t believe I’ll be watching every England game, but like every Englander, deep down I would love us to do well, and should we (by some little miracle) make to the final (maybe even the semis or the quarters), I won’t need my boyfriend telling me ‘England are playing, we’re watching’, I’ll be reaching for the remote myself.