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It’s the morning of the Switzerland v England match and I’m up at 5.45am and away in a taxi half an hour later.
I get to the airport, clear customs in record time, and head for a coffee, there are about 40 England fans already assembled and half with beers already in hand. How does anyone manage a beer at 6.30am?
It amazes me how half of them make it to the match, but I guess it's a case of practice makes perfect!
We arrive in Basel 20 minutes late and, after a brief chat to scouse Robbie the
British Bobby (I love that - bobby the bobby), I head for the Swiss exit and a taxi to the hotel to check-in and register with England Fans, which happens to be in the same hotel!
Of course my room isn’t ready, so I head to the bar and meet up with some of my Canterbury friends who follow England as well. After they finish their second pint of the day and me a glass of water we make our way to the Olympic Gymnasium School in Basel which is the venue for the fans’ tournament.
There is normally a match arranged between opposing fans at most of England’s away games, they are organised through the England Fans’ Club in conjunction with the local British Council and the each country’s national association.
Today is a round-robin tournament with the England boys taking on a Swiss supporters’ team, as well as a young team from the school.
There are about 150 spectators, mainly Swiss, but about 20 English including two of my mates from the official England Band.
Fame at last! The guys blast out the God Save the Queen as we line up and the English players sing, scream and shout out the words as loud as possible.
The Swiss anthem up next, but to our astonishment hardly any of the youngsters knew the words or were to shy to sing them – 1-0 England!
Anyway, after the formalities we lined up 4-5-1 against the Swiss fans, mainly because with me in the team the average age is over 40. Just before kick-off Garford, the manager, hands me the captain’s armband - nice one!!!
The beer I bought him on Friday and the promise of a box of Swiss chocolates obviously worked a treat. I didn't need to bother really as the Swiss team handed all the players a large bar of chocolate - duly handed straight to the gaffer to fill his face - and a small pennant.
The formation seemed to work, we absorbed a lot of pressure and managed to sneak a winning goal on the break. Three points in the bag and two up on the Swiss.
The next game saw the Swiss fans defeat the School team 2-0, which meant we only needed a draw against the school side to win the tournament.
The Gaffer decided on the same formation and same team which was a bit contentious as everyone should get a game.
Nobody need have worried though as they did in the end following a number of casualties.
That included myself after a high-speed clash of heads. But at least I was able to leave the field and grab the first pint of the day. England held on for a 0-0 draw to win the tournament.
All good fun and the Swiss fans team even laid on a barbeque and free beer afterwards. It couldn't be better, now all we needed to do was beat the Swiss team in the main game.
After a brief trip back to the hotel to drop the bags off, we headed back to the city centre for a beer before hopping onto an extremely noisy no.14 tram to the stadium.
The atmosphere was electric, however, as the England fans started singing and gradually the sound of 'England till I die' got louder and louder as the tram got closer to the ground.
The Swiss seemed confident too, saying thanks for the three points even before the game has kicked off! If only they knew what was to come.
Rooney got a bit of stick before the game, but once he scored the chants change and his name is bellowed out in praise. He did well
and let's hope that continues.
England had an awesome night, winning 3-1, and the Swiss fans received the ‘tatty bye’ song as the home fans filed through the exits 15 minutes early.
Good job they left early as it made it easier to get back on the tram after the game.
It was a surreal feeling standing in the road watching the trams go by and, as they went off into the distance, you could still hear the feint sound of ‘Engerland Engerland…’ being sung all around the city as the trams headed off in every direction.
Once in the city it was straight to nearest bar for a night cap or two and to discuss the problems ahead when Terry and Ferdinand are fit – what happens to Jags?
And also, does he pick Lampard? I do think that even though he is a Red Gerrard should stay in the team, but not together with Lampard, hey but
I guess we will find out in October…
The Swiss were rolled all day!
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