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Chapter 6: Euro 2004

June 7, 2014

Yates’ was packed, standing room only as people fought for a pint and a good vantage point to watch the game. Sunday night, June 13th, England vs France in our opening game.

The atmosphere was brilliant, the England songs blaring out of the speakers before a hush descended and the national anthem’s begun. God Save the Queen was blasted out with gusto, before people chanced getting that final pint in before kick-off.

The game started, the singing started, and not long after the celebrating started – Frank Lampard heading us into the lead.

Beer flew everywhere as the place went mental, it was just like being stood on the terraces. Talbs raised his arm in celebration whilst still clutching his pint; Joe punched the air, and also punched Talbs’ pint glass. A cut hand for Joe, a lost pint for Talbs.

Things got even better in the 2nd half when Rooney was bought down, penalty! But Beckham couldn’t beat Barthez – had we missed our chance?

Injury time, nearly there. But Zidane slams in a free kick and it’s 1-1, not the worst result against the French but hard to take when we were that close to the 3 points.

Things get worse. Gerrard passes back to David James but there’s not enough on it; Thierry Henry races across to the ball and is bought down by James… Zidane steps up for the penalty, some camera’s pick up the footage of him being sick with nerves, but he keeps just enough composure to fire in the penalty and that’s it, England press the self-destruct button in injury time once again just like our last Euro’s match in 2000… the highlights and lowlights – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuSeV9E4pU0

I’d booked the Monday off work so spent the rest of the Sunday night out drowning my sorrows, ending up in Edwards. Despite the game it ended up being a decent night, and the electric atmosphere in Yates’ made up our minds that that would be our place for the remainder of the tournament.

The Swiss and Croats were beaten 3-0 and 4-2 respectively, Wayne Rooney in the form of his life along the way. We qualified from the group in 2nd spot and it was back down to Yates on Thursday June 24th for the Quarter-final clash against the Portuguese.

Yates’ was full again, and everyone seemed to be out. 3 Lions, World in Motion, Vindaloo were all played before the customary hush before the national anthems, the last-minute dash to the bar for a pint, and the scrum to get back to your spot whilst trying not to spill any beer.

We had got ourselves a cracking spot in front of the big screen, meaning a great view of Michael Owen putting us into the lead.

Beer filled the air again as our clothes became Carling-drenched.

But as is usually the case when supporting England, there was soon a bump in the road to knock us off course…

Rooney, our player of the tournament so far, went down injured. He couldn’t continue and Darius Vassell replaced him.

Vassell had pace (probably still has!) had put in some steady performances wearing the 3 Lions, but he was no Rooney or Owen.

As the game continued we posed less of a threat, but it was still a gutting moment when Helder Postiga of all people who headed Portugal level. Postiga had been a big flop at Spurs, so off course he’d go and score a late equaliser against us wouldn’t he.

More heartache came minutes later. Campbell headed in a free-kick, we go to celebrate, more beer in the air etc, but in a cruel repeat of the Argentina game in ’98 Campbell’s goal was disallowed, the ref ruling Terry impeded the ‘keeper.

Extra time, nerves, tension, another beer.

Rui Costa carried the ball from the half-way line to the 18 yard box, wasn’t stopped in his tracks, and lashed home to make it 2-1 Portugal.

Back we came. 5 minutes later, Frank Lampard turned and fired in, sending us absolutely mental, it’s probably the best ever England goal celebration I’ve experienced, an incredible feeling of relief and elation.

So, penalties.

Beckham steps up first, slips, fires over, looks back at the turf in disgust.

A few kicks later Rui Costa misses, and it’s sudden death. Vassell misses. Portugal ‘keeper Ricardo scores.

We’re out on penalties again.

Portugal highlights – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIYej5s6ef4


As soon as Ricardo scored that spot-kick, the TV went off, the lights came on, and the music started playing – Outcast – Hey Ya.

It was weird, how could we just all return to normality like that? The atmosphere was sombre, but more people in England shirts left and more people on a normal Thursday night entered meaning the mood eventually lifted.

I ended up in the Lounge with Joe and JD, and I still remember vividly getting a taxi back and seeing the clock at Bass Museum saying 02:15. “Shit I’m up in 5 hours”, I slurred to myself.

The next day at work was an effort, but I made it.


Euro 2004 is one of my favourite tournaments I’ve watched.

It started on Saturday 12th June with Greece beating Portugal, and ended on Sunday July 2nd, with, quite ironically, Greece beating Portugal.

It was a shock, but through being extremely tight and organised the Greek’s worked wonders to not only make the final, but to then beat the Portuguese for a 2nd time on their own turf.

I watched the final up at Henhurst club and remember the striker Charisteas scoring and the wild celebrations from the Greek’s at full time.

To be honest it was a wide open tournament from the start, Germany could only draw with Latvia (LOL) and went out in the group stage, as did Italy and Spain. You look back at the last 8 and think if only we’d held out against Portugal we’d have had a great chance, but us England fans have been ‘if only-ing’ for years now.

All the stats and facts – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euro_2004

“Greece’s amazing journey” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVU6XYJPLw8

 

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