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Euro's Information and News

Euro's Diary: Part One


Paul Donegan

I am planning on going to 16 matches during the Women’s Euro’s and thought I would write a diary type thing about them, plus other matches I watch on the telly. Not quite sure how this will turn out but I will probably write about things I remember, see, people I talk to and maybe a bit about the actual matches! I will probably publish it a couple of times a week. Here is a look back at the first two days.

Wednesday 6th July

Arriving at Euston station in London, it was nice to see quite a few other people wearing Lionesses/England shirts. No issues on the train journey up to Manchester. As the train pulled into Piccadilly station, there were a few spots of rain on the window. Leaving the station, I walked under some Euro’s banners that were hung up.

The fan festival in Piccadilly Gardens looked busy as I walked past on my way to the Banyan bar and the Free Lionesses Fans’ Embassy. It was nice to see Debs and it is a good place to meet other Lionesses fans. I also picked up a copy of a free supporters guide there.

The hotel I was staying in was a few minutes walk from there. There were three lifts but only one went to the lower ground floor where reception/entrance was whilst the other two went to the floor above and there were escalators down to reception. My room was on the seventh floor and offered a view of a car park below. Having booked a lot of hotels over the next month, I did have to check if I had booked breakfast in this one or not (I had)!

Just after 4 o’clock, I got the Metrolink tram out to Old Trafford. Well to be honest, I got on the wrong tram and had to walk a bit further than planned (maybe I should have checked the ground guides I wrote!). I passed Old Trafford cricket ground walking up to the football stadium. There were lots of burger vans and merchandise sellers as I got closer to the stadium.

It was already very busy around the stadium when I got there at 5pm, three hours before kick off. There were official merchandise stalls about and I bought the official tournament programme which cost £8. I had a look around the fan festival there before waiting for the turnstiles to open at 6. There was a cool breeze and I am pleased I had taken a jacket with me. My seat was in the upper tier of the east stand. Getting to it involved climbing a lot of steps!

Before the match there was a DJ playing in the ground, finishing with the crowd singing along to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. Then there was the Opening Ceremony but I couldn’t see much of it due to the amount of smoke from the fireworks and pyrotechnics. There was a good atmosphere and the cheer after the national anthem was one of the loudest I have ever heard at a Lionesses game. There were some Austria fans there too with a large group sat below where I was. Tiny Football Car (or Tiny Buzz) drove on with the ball which also got a loud cheer.

Beth Mead scored the only goal of the game for England during the first half. England had other chances but didn’t take them. I thought both defences played well though I was getting a bit nervy in the last 15 minutes with the score still at 1-0, especially when Austria had a few chances. The attendance was 68,871, which is a record for the Women’s Euros. After the final whistle, “Sweet Caroline” was played which got a lot of the crowd singing again!

There was a long queue and wait for the tram back into Manchester at the Old Trafford stop. The tram was packed and I could hear someone singing “Footballs Coming Home” as it made its way back. I got back to my hotel at about 11:15pm after a very good day!

Thursday 7th July

No match for me today. After having breakfast at the hotel, I got the train back to London. Again there were no issues but I am waiting for some train problems during the Euro’s for me. I was home in north London by 1:30pm.

I watched Norway v Northern Ireland on the telly in the evening. Norway’s attack looked very good with Caroline Graham Hansen and Guro Reiten especially impressing me. Norway were 3-0 up before half-time and I worried for Northern Ireland. Julie Nelson scored Northern Ireland’s first goal in a major tournament early in the second half which was a special moment. Reiten’s free kick for Norway shortly after made it 4-1 and that is how it finished. It will be interesting to see how England defend against Norway’s attack on Monday.

Friday 8th July

It was hot and sunny, feeling like proper summer football tournament weather! Arriving at Gunnersbury station, there were volunteers outside guiding people to the stadium. In the pub over the road from the station, there were Germany fans along with a bus! Closer to the ground, Denmark fans had taken over a pub next to the River Thames. It was nice just walking around and taking in the atmosphere. Outside the ground, there were face painters and people walking around on stilts. I then saw the two sides arrive at the ground in their coaches.

The Brentford Community Stadium is an impressive, slightly odd shaped ground fitted in a triangle shaped area of land between three railways. I especially loved the different colour seats. I stayed in the concourse area as it was a bit cooler and even from there could hear the Denmark fans who were already in the stadium making a lot of noise. It was a bit weird to be sat in the same block in the ground as both Jess (waved at before the match) and Chris (had a chat at half time) who I know and it was nice to see them.

Germany really impressed me in their 4-0 win. They hit the woodwork three times and the Denmark goalkeeper had made a fantastic save before they did take the lead in the first half. They scored another three goals in the second half and had another one disallowed for offside. Denmark had a player sent off right at the end of the match. I had a nice view of a lovely coloured sky as the sun set. There was a really good atmosphere, but please can the Mexican waves stop along with the silly cheer that goes with them!

There are a number of stations closer to the stadium, but after the match I walked 25 minutes to Acton Town and it wasn’t too busy. One of the nice things about have a tournament like the Euros in your home country/city is being able to get home from some matches before midnight!

Saturday 9th July

After a late night, it was an early start as I was on my way north to Sheffield (well Chesterfield first as I was staying there) before 9am! There were engineering works on the railway between Derby and Sheffield so there was a replacement bus (and a hold up on the M1 due to traffic). The joys of travelling by train at the weekend! I even saw a few people wearing Sweden shirts on the way up. Chesterfield is famous for the crooked spire and being the birthplace of Millie Bright! After having lunch with a friend and checking into the hotel, I got a normal bus to Sheffield.

There were plenty of Sweden and Netherlands shirts on show as soon as I got off the bus. I made my way to the fan park in Devonshire Green which was busy and very yellow and orange! A Dutch DJ played some tunes, including “Dancing Queen” by ABBA for the Swedish people that were there! There was a great atmosphere there in the hot sunshine! The Sweden fans had made themselves at home on a side street near the fan park and were making a lot of noise. The Netherlands did their fan walk to the ground, led by an orange bus, and this was amazing to see.

At Bramall Lane, I was sat on The Kop. For someone like me who is over 6 foot tall and has long legs, there wasn’t much leg room. Netherlands v Sweden was a match I had been looking forward to attending since the draw was made and I had got a ticket last November. Sweden took the lead before half time, but the Netherlands equalised shortly after the break as it finished 1-1. The Swedish supporters sang and chanted throughout the match whilst the Dutch had a small band and they could be heard from the other end of the ground. It was very colourful with so many fans wearing yellow and orange shirts. There were 21, 342 fans at the match, which was a record attendance for a group match not involving the host nations at a Euros (breaking the previous record that had been set the day before at the Spain v Finland match). This was probably the best atmosphere at a match I have been at and one of my favourite football days.

After the match, I eventually found the right stop to get the bus back (turned out to be the last bus at 10:50pm)! Some Dutch and Swedish fans also got on it as they also seemed to be staying in Chesterfield too! It took about an hour to get back and I went straight back to my hotel, passing a bar that was blasting out a Spice Girls song!

Sunday 10th July

I knew this would happen with the amount of travelling and matches I am watching but I woke up and had to think where I was and was it Sunday! I quickly remembered and went and met friends for breakfast. The same Swedish people who had been on the bus back to Chesterfield last night were on the rail replacement one back to Derby. It was a stunning day and the Derbyshire countryside looked lovely as the bus made its way. Part of the train had a problem so everyone was crowded into five coaches instead of ten.

I got home by mid-afternoon, and then watched the two matches on the telly. The atmosphere at the Academy Stadium during Belgium v Iceland sounded great. I can’t wait to see and hear the Thunderclap live at Rotherham next Monday when I watch Iceland v France. At half time, I thought it had 0-0 written all over it, especially after Iceland had a penalty saved. Shortly after halt time, Iceland did take the lead but Belgium equalised later in the half as it finished 1-1. Another draw after the two matches on Saturday had also finished level.

The later match was France v Italy, and in my opinion two of the best national anthems. France looked great attacking in the first half and were leading 5-0 at the break. Italy did have a player sent off in the second half but this was overturned after a VAR check. Italy got a goal back but France’s first half performance meant they won 5-1. The France home shirts are also the best I have seen so far. That match also brings an end to the first set of group games. In those, Germany and the first half performance from France have impressed me the most.

After two nights of getting home/to hotel at nearly midnight, it was nice to be in bed by 10:30!

Monday 11th July

It was the Lionesses second game day in Brighton and I headed south at lunchtime. As the hotels in Brighton were very expensive, I decided to stay in Haywards Heath. After dropping my bag off at the hotel, I arrived in Brighton at about 3:30 and headed down the road to the seafront. Along the way, there were quite a few Euro’s banners up.

The Free Lionesses Fan Embassy was at the Tempest Inn which is right by the sea. With clear blue skies and warm temperatures, it could have been Nice rather than Brighton! There I caught up with Jess, who I had met at the World Cup in France in 2019. I also got a free ‘tweets on scarves’ scarf.

As the ground at Brighton is a bit out from the city, getting a train was the best way for me to get there. It seemed a bit disorganised at the station as to where to queue but I got a train fairly quickly and was at the stadium by about 6. The train after that one broke down and caused delays and queues snaking around Brighton station later on.

My seat was in the top tier of one of the stands again so there were a lot of steps to climb but I had a good view. The concourse area felt like a greenhouse after the sun had been shining in through the windows all afternoon. I saw Jess again (not the one from earlier today but the one from Friday) and her dad and we had a chat this time! I also had a good view of Gabby Logan, Ian Wright, Alex Scott and Jonas Eidevall in the TV presentation area.

I was expecting it to be a difficult game against Norway but England blew them apart with some sensational play, winning 8-0! Beth Mead scored a hat-trick, Ellen White scored two, Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp (after a VAR check) and Alessia Russo scored the others. There was an amazing atmosphere with “Its Coming Home” being sang a few times during the match by most of the 28,847 fans.

After seeing the players do their lap of the pitch, I joined the queue at Falmer station for the train back to Brighton. It seemed disorganised again with not many people about telling you were to queue so there was just one mass of people instead. I eventually got a train at 11:15 and after changing trains in Brighton, I was back at my hotel at 12:30am! Maybe I should get a train to Lewes and back next time?!

Tuesday 12th July

I decided to go straight from Haywards Heath to Milton Keynes for today’s match between Denmark and Finland. On my way, I left my bag at a left luggage place at Euston station. The fan park was in a square over the road from the station and there was a nice mix of Danish and Finnish fans along with a few people wearing Sweden shirts. I also saw Chris again and had a catch up with him.

I bought a ticket for the shuttle bus from the bus station next to the fan park to near the stadium. The bus journey took about 10 minutes and then it was a 10 minute walk but there were lots of volunteers and signs pointing you in the right direction. After having mainly hot dogs and burgers to eat at matches, at Stadium MK they do small pizzas so I had one of those as something a bit different.

Denmark won 1-0 thanks to Pernille Harder’s header during the second half. Both goalkeepers made some good saves. A good atmosphere again with the Danish fans being very noisy. There seemed to be a lot of school groups at this match too (my first 5pm kick off so not sure if it was the same for all at that time). After being cloudy for most of the day, it rained during the second half which meant those sat near the front moving further back to keep dry.

After the match and the 10 minute walk back to the buses, I was straight on one and back at the station by 7:30. On the train back I had a chat to a Danish family who had come over for a couple of the matches and how it was their first time in the UK. After picking my bag up, I was home by 9:30 and managed to catch the end of the Germany v Spain match on the telly.

Wednesday 13th July

With Sweden v Switzerland kicking off in Sheffield at 5pm, it meant I could do this one as a day trip from London. I got the train at 11:30am and was surrounded on it by Sweden fans. Some I had a chat with had flown over just for this match! I was in Sheffield by 2pm and headed to the fan park there again. On another sunny and warm day, Division Street had again been taken over by the Swedes whilst in the park there was a mixture of fans again.

Close to the stadium, there was a band playing close to it providing some entertainment for fans. I also saw a Switzerland fan walking along with a cow bell! The Swedish had their fan walk to the ground lead by a drummer with their supporters chanting and waving flags.

I was sat in the John Street stand this time and there was a lot more leg room than in The Kop. I was sat near the main group of Sweden supporters and they sang and chanted the whole game, with a lady walking along the front of the stand with a megaphone leading them. This was the best atmosphere I have ever experienced at a football match (women’s or men’s). I saw a couple of friends at this match. Jess again (third time so far) before the match and Josh at half time.

Sweden won 2-1 with Rolfo giving them the lead after the break. Switzerland quickly equalised when Bachmann scored. Bennison scored the winner with a cracking strike with about 10 minutes left. There was still time for Sweden to have two goals disallowed before the final whistle went.

I was back at the station with some time to spare before my train at 7:40pm. After no delays, I was home in north London at 10:35pm after a really good day. I was pleased to have the following day off going to football after getting some blisters on my toes after doing a lot of walking the previous couple of days.

Thursday 14th July

This was a catch up day at home with some admin, emails, shopping, hoovering, cleaning and washing to do. I watched the two matches on the telly with Italy and Iceland drawing 1-1, and France winning 2-1 against Belgium. These results meant that France won the group and qualified for the quarter-finals. It was an early night for me after that with four matches over the next four days planned to go to.

Friday 15th July

The Lionesses final group game was in Southampton against Northern Ireland, so naturally I decided to stay somewhere else fairly local, in Portsmouth this time, as the hotels there were cheaper! The hotel was right next to the station so after dropping my bag off, I got the train to Southampton and was there just after 4pm. I walked down to the Town Quay and the Dancing Man Brewery where the Free Lionesses Fan Embassy was and had a drink there. After that, I went to the fan park which was busy with lots of England and Northern Ireland fans. The Northern Ireland ones were making more of the noise. I saw my friends Flora and Ben there and it was nice having a catch up with them.

The stadium was about a 10/15 minute walk from the fan park. I got there in time to see the teams arrive on their coaches. I was sat a lot lower down for this match, about 12 rows from the pitch and just to the side of one of the goals, which made a nice change after being up in the gods for the first two Lionesses games. The bad news though was I was sat just in front of where the England band were positioned! More bad news was when the stadium announcers trying to get the crowd to do a Mexican wave before the start of the match!

Northern Ireland started okay and I thought caused England a few more problems than Norway had in the last match. England were awarded a penalty for handball, but this was overturned after a VAR check as there had been an England handball in the build up. It took until nearly half time for Fran Kirby to open the scoring for the Lionesses with Beth Mead quickly adding a second before half time. Alessia Russo came on at half time and scored twice early in the second half. An own goal from Kelsie Burrows later in the half completed the scoring. There was another great atmosphere at this match with the Northern Ireland fans singing non-stop throughout it!

Southampton was busy, maybe as expected on a Friday evening, as I walked back to the station. There was a singer performing outside one of the bars on what was a mild evening. The train back to Portsmouth was busy, all four carriages being standing room only for most of the journey. I was back at my hotel before midnight which wasn’t too bad!

Saturday 16th July

After having breakfast at the hotel (it was a buffet one and I was wondering how many times it would be acceptable to go up for food), I got the train back to London and home for a few hours.

For the final games in group B, I went to Brentford again to watch Denmark v Spain. A nice easy trip across London for me for this one. Near Gunnersbury station was the hotel that Spain were staying at and their coach was ready outside to drive them over to the stadium. Outside the ground, I saw both sides arrive, Denmark followed by Spain! The Spain fans made a lot of noise when they arrived!

I was sat at the opposite end this time at the Brentford Community Stadium, but again the main section of Denmark supporters were in the corner close to where I was sitting. My brother came to this match with me for his first (and maybe only) experience of Euro 2022! I also knew a few other people at this match but missed them!

In terms of entertainment and chances, this was the worst match I have been to so far during the Euros. Denmark were happy to defend and counter, whilst Spain didn’t create that much despite a lot of possession. I was thinking this was going to be the first 0-0 of the tournament after the first half.

One of the highlights of the evening was a girl getting 16 out of 16 in the half time competition by naming all the competing sides in group order. Denmark started to attack a bit more as the second half went on, they had to win to get through, but Spain scored the only goal in the 90th minute thanks to Marta Cardona’s header.

Instead of going to Acton Town like I did last time, I walked to Chiswick Park station this time and had to wait 15/20 minutes for a train to arrive! This meant I didn’t get home until after midnight.

Sunday 17th July

I headed north for a few days to watch the final games in groups C (Switzerland v Netherlands) and D (Iceland v France) in Sheffield and Rotherham. I got an early morning train to Chesterfield again as this is where I was staying and the group C games kicked off at 5pm. It was too early to check in to the hotel but I could leave my bag there. I got a slower bus to Sheffield this time which took me through some Derbyshire/South Yorkshire towns and villages.

The fan park was busy again, lots of Netherlands fans in orange shirts and Switzerland in their red ones. The Dutch bus was there, as were some singers on stage which got the crowd swinging scarfs above their heads and doing the conga to some of the songs! There are seriously no other fans like the Dutch pre-match! Then it was time for the fan walk to Bramall Lane. I walked along with it this time and what an experience that was, one I will never forget on the way to a football match! It went along at a sedate pace, stopping a couple of times along the way. There was music playing from the bus and most of the fans were wearing orange and waving flags. It took about 45 minutes to get to the stadium.

I was sat in the John Street stand again, with the Netherlands fans in front of me. With the hot weather arriving, there was a cooling break during the match for the first time during there Euro’s. Switzerland had to win to have any chance of going through to the quarter-finals. There were no goals in the first half, but the Netherlands took the lead in the 49th minute when Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic scored an own goal. Switzerland weren’t behind for long as Geraldine Reuteler equalised. Both goalkeepers made some good saves during the match. Netherlands scored three times in the last ten minutes with Leuchter getting two of them and Victoria Pelova the other. One did take a long VAR check with those of us in the stadium not knowing exactly what was being checked as no additional info is given on the screens.

The 4-1 win for the Netherlands saw them get through to play France next. Their players and fans celebrated by dancing along to “Links Rechts” in the stadium and there was more singing and dancing in the concourses as the fans left! The attendance of 22,569 was a record for a group game in the Women’s Euros not involving the host nation, and the third time during these Euro’s that record had been broken.

I got the rail replacement bus back to Chesterfield, once I had found the right queue and not finish up going to Stockport along with the majority of the Netherlands fans! It was nice to be at the hotel by just after 9pm after a couple of late nights!

Monday 18th July

It was hot!! I stayed in my hotel room most of the day (thankful for the air-conditioning), but did got for a slow walk around Chesterfield when I went out to get some lunch. With the trains starting to muck around because of the heat, I decided to get the quick bus to Sheffield and a train to Rotherham from there. This all worked out and I was in Rotherham by 6:30pm. It took about 15 minutes to walk to the stadium from the station. My seat for this game was on the second row from the front, just to the side of the goal! It was baking just sat there so god knows what it would be like for the players of Iceland and France running about on the pitch.

France had already qualified as group winners and Iceland knew a win would see them go through too but a draw or loss could still see them go through depending on the result between Italy and Belgium. France took the lead in the first minute when Melvine Malard scored. Iceland had chances to equalise that went narrowly wide, France had two goals disallowed after VAR checks and between them the woodwork was hit three times. Iceland were awarded a penalty in injury time which Dagny Brynjarsdottir socred in the 102nd minute of the match, 101 minutes after France had scored! The referee blew the final whistle straight after this. With Belgium winning the other match it meant Iceland were out. It was a really good atmosphere again and it was amazing to see and hear the Iceland fans do the Thunderclap live!

I had a bit of a wait for a train back to Sheffield but by the time I got back there, all the trains to Chesterfield had been cancelled and the last bus had left! I finished up getting a taxi back!

We will post the next installment of Paul's diary in due course.

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