Belgium 0 Italy 2 (Euro 2016, 13th June)
Not much point recapping the games for these Euros round-ups, as they’ve all been on TV, and covered extensively in the media. Well, I say they’ve all been on TV. One place that’s not true is in France, where only games in Group A, France’s group, were shown on normal TV. The rest were only available on BeIN Sports, which doesn’t seem to be a channel readily available in hotels, or at least not in 5 of the 6 I stayed in.
That did mean I was forced to watch many games from bars, which is a terrible hardship I know, but with 8 hours of football on, a degree of pacing yourself is required. Perhaps none more so than in the King Arthur pub in one of Lyon’s pub/restaurant districts, where each beer seemed to be 5.2% proof. Some Belgian fans were in there singing away about “we’ll drink ’til the sun goes down” during the first game. Given the strength of the beer, and that fact that they were already well-oiled at least six hours before than sundown occurred, it seemed an ambitious target.
The Belgians liked a beer through, and got on famously with the hundreds/thousands(?) of English fans who’d stopped off in the city en route from Marseille to Lens, especially with it offering the chance to take in two games locally before travelling up for the game v Wales.
The first of those game was at Lyon’s new stadium, like so many large new ones, out at the edge of the city, which meant being crammed into trams that were never designed with transporting 60000 people at once in mind. Getting back would take nearly an hour and a half.
Going wasn’t too bad until the light spits of run turned into a total downpour at about 100m from the stadium, which walking from the tram stop half a mile away. A small Hyundai stand, the kind of which seems to exist at numerous sporting events despite being completely ignored by everyone, suddenly became immensely popular with the fans. This could have been because they’d suddenly taken an interest in Korean car manufacturing, or could be that the stand had a roof. Fans squeezed in, and the nervous looking man running the stall looked rather frightened about the car being damaged.
“The weather in France, is fooking shit” sang a group of drenched northerners trudging by, already too wet for taking shelter to make any difference. Yet, 15 minutes later, it was back to blue skies, which is how it’d stay for the rest of the day. For the Belgians, on the other hand, it was the result which would cause a return to the gloom.
I also took a took a Lyon’s old stadium, already sprouting weeds despite still being in use 6 months ago. The stadium was in a sports complex, and characteristically I managed to choose the metro stop which was on the far side from there was an open gate, and also I chose the longest possible route round the complex to get there too. My knack for guessing such choices never ceases to amaze me.