World Cup Diary: England limp out of the group stage
I was ‘lucky’ enough to see England take on Costa Rica for their final game of this year’s World Cup campaign following elimination. The Three Lions may be out but the fans are sticking around to party.
World Cup Diary
03:30 – Woken up by a call from BBC Sussex who want a couple of lines on our man the Costa Rica fan. They seem quite tickled I’m coming to them loud and clear from Brazil in the middle of the night.
10:00 – The 1pm kick-off time for England’s final group game against Costa Rica has been deceptive and still needing a ticket, it’s time to get into town.
The council have done an absolutely sterling job of cleaning the place up as the main square which just a few hours ago was one of the biggest public drinking spots I have ever seen is now spotless.
10:30 – Search for a ticket in the centro is fruitless so time to jump in a taxi to the stadium.
11:15 – England fans in great spirit and voice around the ground. I’d say almost 50/50 England and Costa Rica of the travelling fans, and the good news is within minutes of arriving I pick up a category 2 ticket for face value. Result!
12:10 – Sweden fan spotted with ‘bring back Sven’ on the bottom of a beer case.
12:14 – Not for the first time I see Brazilians rocking the rubber horse head masks. Never fails to raise a smile when they photobomb a live interview.
12:15 – It’s all happening here. Man with by far the biggest replica World Cup trophy is seen lugging this effort up the hill. I hope he’s bought a ticket for it…
12:20 – There’s fancy dress, and then there’s quirky Brits abroad. Union Jack overalls, Brazil-coloured skin paint and mohicans. I doubt I’ll see anything to top this before I leave.
12:29 – Unlikely Irish rugby shirt spotted alert – what a story. Guy wearing the shirt is a Brazilian called Dias who has lived in Wexford for the last 10 years and is an Irish citizen.
He’s home for the World Cup. I’ve never heard a Brazilian/Irish accent before but it’s superb.
12:50 – In the ground in Belo Horizonte. Classic FIFA administration as fans to my left and right have category 1 tickets with face values of $R200 and $R350 respectively compared to mine at $R135.
I look to my left and right, and inspect their seats but there is no magic view or secret free beer fridge. Odd.
13:00 – Rousing rendition of GSTQ belted out by the strong England contention. Anthem-o-meter sways slightly in favour of the English too and this might be a meaningless game but the Three Lions fans are galvanised to start chanting and urging their team on like there’s still plenty to play for.
13:45 – Not a vintage half of football by any stretch. Brazilian riles the large England contingent in our part of the stand by walking provocatively up and down with banner reading ‘I came to watch England’s departure’.
Angry reactions from fans with a big cheer going up when he’s ejected from the ground.
13:50 – Worth a hat tip to Brazil/the organisers for not ripping fans off nearly as much as they could have done/do at other major sporting events. You can’t argue with a Brahma beer in a souvenir cup for around £1.50.
14:25 – A huge St George’s cross is unfurled further down in the stadium. We were told that flags of all sizes would be banned from the ground so whoever managed to get that past the stewards deserves a medal.
14:30 – England can take some crumbs of comfort from that performance but Costa Rica were there to be put away and they definitely looked like a side with their mind on other things.
We’ve got some prices on some of yesterday’s players starting England’s first game at Euro 2016(they are 1/66 to qualify).
Lallana is quoted at evens, Barkley 6/4, Shaw 5/2, Foster 10/1.
I’d suggest Barkley is the best bet there – he looks to me like a player who can mature into an England great for years to come. We don’t have many as comfortable and alive on the ball as him.
15:20 – Walking back from the ground to the bus and the drinks vendors are desperately trying to flog the last of their cans of coke.
They are repeatedly asked for beer, but keep replying ‘Inglaterra, Inglaterra’, then one goes into more detail and says the England fans cleaned them out of Brahma long before kick-off.
We’re out of the World Cup, but we drunk the town dry. Sounds about right!
16:30 – At the airport now to make the journey back to Rio for the final time. I’m not sure anyone wants to read about me sitting down for an extended period of time, reading a book and charging my phone, so today’s blog ends here.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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