"It wasn't supposed to be like this...." Ireland v Croatia, Euro 2012 blog, day 5
Dejected. It wasn't supposed to be like this. Yesterday afternoon was incredible. Poznan square was a carnival and football was the sideshow. The friendly banter between the Irish and Croats was fantastic to see and a real credit to both sets of fans in a footballing world so often marred by mindless violence.
Being part of the pre-match build up was special and the nervous trembling before kick off is something you could only really experience by being there. Most of us arrived at the stadium two hours before kick off to ensure we soaked up every drop of it. At this stage, the rain didn't bother us at all. Watching the fans stream in through the turnstiles was a spectacle in itself. The outfits ranged from the ridiculous to the ingenious. Great dedication to the cause. This match is watched globally and even if our didn't rise to the occasion, our fans once again showed why we are the greatest supporters in the world.
The amount of Irish fans in Poznan last night was astonishing. However many of us filled the terraces, there was the same number still outside watching from the streets. Thats impressive in anyones book, but for a country with an average football side and a crippling recession, it is extrordinary. No matter what route people take, it's not cheap to be here. Among many tricoulours hanging from the stand was my personal favourite flag containing the message - 'Angela Merkel thinks we're at work'. The Irish are a great bunch of lads!
The stadium served only non-alcoholic beer. If that wasn't sobering enough, the second minute hammer blow was. Why in the name of god did Andrews leave it? What took Given so long to get across his line? Why wasn't this game going according to the script!? And then came the goal that made it all worth while. When St. Ledger equalised, we erupted. That moment triggered that unique feeling only football can give you. Five minutes of elation. Blind hysteria. As we collectively turned our backs to the pitch and did the infamous Poznan celebration, we all thought we would kick on and win. It felt like some sort of fate. It was just a case of waiting for the next moment of magic.
Unfortunately the players must have felt the same, waiting for someone else to take charge and make it happen. Too many silly mistakes. You can blame the ref and the offside goal if it makes you feel better but we didn't do the basics right and were duly punished. But football is crazy and we are still in the competition, dropping the head is not an option.
We have raised our game before and produced brilliance against Italy and Spain, and we have to believe we can do it again. More importantly the players have to. Walters and Long looked very hungry to do well and I'd say Mclean is starving. They need to feature. They display the attitude that fires up the team and the fans, and we will need to do it for 90 minutes in Gdansk to still be in contention come Friday. The fans did their bit last night and sang tirelessly throughout. As the Croatian players celebrated with their fans, our players hit the tunnel. It would have been nice if they acknowledged our performance.
The despair of the result was nothing compared to what awaited us at the Carlsberg fan camp. We arrived back at 2AM and instantly knew something was up. People with suitcases and rucksacks heading for the exits. Some stayed to remonstrate with the staff, some just went straight in search of somewhere to stay. The tents were flooded, possessions ruined. As we looked inside our tent in disbelief, chaos unfolded around us and at the reception tent. One by one, people returned from the pub to be greeted by the same situation. Absolutely disgraceful. As we voiced our opinions of the campsite, the burly security men hurled obscenities. They weren't very sympathetic. The girls at reception had a long night dealing with irate customers, but what could they do? This shambles is the fault of the organisers and they were nowhere to be seen.
How could they attach their name to something so bad. Many people had to just leave but I dread to think where they ended up. We used the already wet clothing to usher the puddles out of the tent, then I buried myself in the damp sleeping bag and tried to imagine I was at home in bed. As I tried to forget where I was, I could hear the arguments run long into the night. We probably managed to get two hours sleep. As the sun came out, the stench from our neighbouring tree was now unbearable. But you can't blame people from frequenting it, with the state of the portaloos. As I stood under the ice-cold, filthy, communal shower, I felt the last semblance of dignity being stripped from me. You cannot describe the outrage of the punters towards Carlsberg, but what can we do when the staff don't care, the organisers are nowhere to be seen, refund is not an option and alternative accomodation is at a premium? I have a feeling Joe Duffy will be busy.
There are 3 Comments
Jun 12, 2012 at 11:51am
Okay Gary time to come now , youve had your fun and you are obviously bad luck for our boys over there. I like to think that it wasnt for footballing reasons we lost rather your presense please come home now or at least stay away form the stadia. Our country needs this!
Jun 12, 2012 at 12:55pm
Campsite sounds like a disaster. Any chance Irish Rail will turn your trip around and provide some proper accommodation.
Jun 15, 2012 at 9:01pm
Please keep posting up any pics of the Honey Monster if you see him. That's my son and I haven't heard a word from him since he headed over to Poland so good to know he's still surviving!
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