Watto's Euro 2004 Diary


It's the Big One, finally, for Paul Watson in Portugal.


 Day 13: Tuesday 22 June 2004

England v Croatia.

Last night the Portuguese all partied 'til about 3am.  I get up, have breakfast, go for a coffee.  Papers are full of the win — adeus Espanha (bye bye Spain). 

Make some sarnies and leave for Lisbon at about 1pm.  Drive is trouble-free; lots of English fans.  I park up on a piece of waste land near the ground, it is 4.30pm.  There isn't really much parking. 

Next to the Stadium of Light is a big shopping centre.  The English are all there, the square is full.  There is a big game of keepy uppy. Someone manages to get the ball on the roof of the shopping centre, it comes down.  A Portugues man aged about 50 does some tricks with the ball — "Figo, Figo, Figo."

I go to Baixo Chiado to meet Stefan.  I will sell my Holland ticket in Braga, it is about a seven-hour drive each way.  Stefan meets me at the metro, we join his father-in-law and sister-in-law in a cafe.  They are eating snails and yellow beans.  As Jonathan Woss might say, they are rubbery.  They are OK, cooked in garlic. 

We talk about Rooney, in Lisbon they say Everton are €64M in debt, and they want €80M for him.  There are no Dutch around so Stefan will try and sell the ticket for me.  He is coming to the game he will try and get a ticket outside the ground.  We go to the metro. Down about four escalators, it is deeper than Moorfields.  There is some smoke.  Stefan says be careful he thinks it is tear gas.  We get the metro tickets.

There has been some trouble. One English fan is sitting on the ground with blood pouring from his face.  He says "bastards' every 20 seconds.  We go through, there is some broken glass and a few bottles.  Down below, there are Police and dogs.  There is a gap between the Croats and the English, but they are not particularly squaring up to each other.  A plain clothes policeman, see our shirts and says be careful, the Croats are throwing bottles. 

We go down to the platform through the other line.  We get on the metro, there are lots of fans mixed together.  I talk to some Croats — they are Dynamo Zagreb fans, they all know each other.  I tell my club use to have Slaven Bilic, Rooney plays for us now.  He doesn´t look very happy.  I say I'll go to Croatia on my hols one day. 

We get to the ground, ticket for sale €150 . Stefan says wait.  We arrange to meet at the shopping centre after the game.  I go in.  I am four rows back, just be the halfway line.  Stefan has got in, he is in the same section seven rows back.  We find two seats together. 

Great game, but unusual because there are so many chances.  Our Wayne is man of the match.  France win; we play Portugal a Sporting Lisbon's ground on Thursday.  I drive back, return at 2.30am very happy.  Wife couldn't sleep because of the Karaoke.

Paul Watson


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