Carlsberg don't do campsites, but if they did....
Yesterday we got to Berlin central train station two hours early and the noise of the Irish fans was drowning out the trains. The supermarket was completely emptied of cans as the queue of green jerseys were bulk buying in the panic there was no shop on the train. Everybody knew that the 14.40 train to Poznan was fully booked, but the "sure it'll be grand" attitude prevailed as we all managed to squeeze in somewhere, most ticketless. The conductors and the many armed police hadn't a hope of stopping the party.
You had to feel for the local commuters, with their faces pressed up against the windows. It was a long journey for them. For us, it wasn't long enough. The battle to out-sing the Croatian contingent was easily won, despite the collective hoarse voices.
With the reception awaiting us at Poznan Station, you'd swear we were the players themselves. News reporters, TV crews and locals lined the station to welcome us, talk to us, and soak up the incredible atmosphere. We duly obliged with a half our performance on the platform, serenading them with our greatest hits.
It was only interrupted by a heavy shower, and we all dispersed. Myself and Garry, soaked, ran for cover in a closeby building. We were surprised there by the presence of two other lads at the same thing. Andy Gray and Richard Keys grabbing shelter during a storm, not for the first time in their lives. The divils. Sure we let them get a picture with us anyways, Richard loved the Robbie Keane mask (picture to follow).
The rest of the day was marred hugely by the absolute farce that is the Carlsberg Fancamp. A catalogue of errors, undelivered promises and laughable facilities. Amateur. Roy Keane would have been long gone home. I'd be gone in a heartbeat myself if I had somewhere to go.
The fancamp website depicts a heaven for football fans with superior onsite facilities so we would never need to leave. A beach area. A supermarket. Lies basically. Its like the carnival in Father Ted.
We had a reservation for a pre-pitched two man tent. We contacted them last week to book a sleeping back and mat and they said it's grand, we can buy it there. Of course when we were checking in they said they had sold out. It was teeming rain and we were losing patience fast. A couple of angry words later and we had sleeping bags at least. But that was the beginning. A two-man tent? Ya couldn't swing a cat in it. We put the bag in first and then there was no room left for us. This thing is for children on the beach, and its certainly not rain proof. "Sure we'll get a pint". Cue the next farce. It is a cashless site. You need to first queue and BUY a credit card and top it up. Then you go to the next place, queue and buy beer tokens. Then finally you queue at the tent for a beer. Hundreds of Irish fans perplexed, outraged and thirsty. The pictures below say more than I could write. Although they probably don't show how bad it really is. If you are thinking of staying here, don't.
They just didn't think it through at all. What about the Wifi they promised us on the website? Don't be ridiculous! They didnt get it done in time. Bottles of water were sold out completely after the first day.
Despite the absolute amazement at how pathetic the set up was, the beer is cheap and not even the day of rain could dampen the party mood last night. Brilliant craic altogether. The fans are impeccably behaved and only interested in banter. Any hostility is caused by the sour pussed, baton happy police force only too happy to give someone a hiding. After another memorable night, we set back home. To the tent. Water seeped in from everywhere. I've had better sleeps.
There is a field full of identical tents which caused hilarious confusion. Ours is easy to find as it is beside the only tree in the field. However, with the toilets a five minute walk away, our tree became very popular during the night. Less said about that the better.
Tired, and emotional, I headed into town in search for a computer. I don't think they are quite ready for us here yet to be honest, but credit where credit is due, the people are lovely.
Anyway, tonight is the night. For the remainder of the day and night, the above will pale into insignificance. The importance of tonight's match can not be overstated. A result for us here and the dream is well and truly on. A loss, and we are in big trouble. Tomorrow, when I go to write my blog, it may be in the aftermath of of the greatest night ever.
Tonight's events don't just affect the mood of us fans over here, but of the Irish nation. A successful campaign would have an unbelievable effect on our country, it would lift us all. It would restore pride to many who've lost it. It would incite passion. It would generate business. It would be...Epic!
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Jun 12, 2012 at 8:30am
Gary - give me a call and we will sort you out for a good standard hotel and join the rest of our Celbridge contingent in Poznan
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