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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Red World Cup Report by Dougie

I know some you have no time for international football and some support countries who have \ do not qualify for the actual tournament, but all I can say is you are missing out big time.

I got back from Germany on Friday after 2 of the most enjoyable weeks of my life. The whole WC experience was brilliant. At France 98 it was described as a party to which England were not invited, well this time it was a party at which England were the guest of honour !!

There were 6 of us in a camper van (1 United,me, 2 City, 1 Leeds, 1 Everton, and 1 Spurs fan) and we spent 2 days and nights in each of the cities where England were playing and in between games we went out into the wilds to see the 'real Germany' and everywhere we went the Germans were great hosts. We were given free drinks at 6 different bars (including a round of schapps sent to us by a group of Ukranians \ Russians) , my mate who collects glasses \ tankards was given 3 free steins when he tried to buy them at different pubs, we were given a free fish off a barbecue (long story !) . At evey camping place Germans came up helping us sort out electric and water when they saw us struggling. We had people coming up to us in the street wishing England good luck and welcoming us to their country and hoping we enjoyed it. We swapped a couple of shirts and badges with fans from other nations.

I have pictures of us with Trinidadians, Italians, Americans, South Koreans, Mexicans, Swedes and Germans.

The whole fortnight was one long party - the police for once being totally chilled and letting us 'do our thing', and for once no meatheads spoiling it for the rest of us (thank you banning orders)

I actually played in an organised cricket match in a park in Nurnberg for "england fans" against "T&T fans" watched by incredulous Germans and even more incredulous German police watched by a couple of hundred England fans and a smaller number of T&T fans, all mingling and having a laugh -it was one of the highlights and thankfully for once the press were there in force to record the good side of England fans. I have a great pic of me and mates with 2 Rastas - surprising when you all know every single England fan is a rabid racist !!

We even saw a few Jocks in kilts and a couple of Nothern Irish lads out there and a couple of Southern Irish with a flag saying "if only" written on it ! So it was not just countries who had qualifed who had fans out there.

One of the most bizzare sights was in Koln in front of the famous cathedral - a group of South Koreans doing some sort of dance round in a circle banging drums - after 10 mins it had turned into aobut 60 fans doing a circular type conga - in the front an English fan banging a drum, followed by 2 Germans blowing plastic trumpets, then an Italian with a flag, then some Mexicans, a couple in Brazil shirts etc etc.The whole atmosphere every where we went was just great.

Yes, so far England games have been pretty shite and yes in some ways the mixture of fans (lots of corporates) at games has taken it away from 'real fans' to turn it all into an 'event' - hence the fact that we only got to one game live, having to watch the Paraguay and Sweden games on big screens in Fan Fests which held over 30,000 and though great not as good as being there - but it is a unique experience.

I have seen United abroad 15 ish or so times, and been to many England games abroad 30 ish - this being my 3rd World Cup (Spain 82 & France 98) plus Euros in Holland \ Belgium 2000 and Portugal 2004 and have enjoyed everyone of those, but for sheer friendliness and atmsopehre and mixing with other fans this has been the best ever !!

So thank you Germany you have been great hosts and like I say to those of you who have never been to a World Cup - you are really missing out - next time around try and get there you will have a great time!!

England trips and United trips are usually quite different, United short and sweet, England tend to be longer competititions, but both good fun,good lads and loads of bevvy and strange food.


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