Thursday, 14 June 2012

Euro 2012 - Day 8 and Gameday 2

We arrived in Gdansk yesterday still numbering 7 having lost Richie McCaul who travelled home after Poznan via Lodz but having gained the lovely Louise Considine who joined us in Torun. Had a great couple of days in Torun where we stayed in a cracking 4 star hotel called the Filmar about 10 minutes walk out from the old town. The town itself is a gorgeous medieval town deserving of its Unesco heritage status, it's full of old churches, nice terrace cafe bars, museums etc and was the birthplace of Copernicus who's statue dominates the main square.

The pace in the town was a little less hectic than Poznan which was a relief and the compact nature of the town made it easier to meet up with some of the regular travelling crew who we'd missed in Poznan like Steve Bradley and his crew and some of the Birmingham and London Irish. Of course, meeting those and also the lads we were on the tear with in Poznan like The Quinn Towers and Billy and Paul invariably led to 'a few quiet ones' leading to a few more noisy ones and some songs and chants on occasion around the old square!

The biggest buzz around Torun was the night the Poland Russia game was on when the city was packed with locals out in force to support their team. Having decided to forgo the fan zone big screens we settled in the covered terrace area of a local bar on the square where a tv was set up. The fact we'd found a Guinness tap and having od'd on the local lager over the previous few days sealed the deal for us as we ordered some surprisingly decent pints of Arthurs finest and joined in with the 'Polska' chants reverberating around the square. This choice also let to a slightly disconcerting match experience as there was a bar just across the square whose tv picture was somehow about 5 seconds ahead of ours so every 'oooohhhh' and 'aaaahhhh' coming from there alerted us that something was about to happen! So we were ready for the dejection when Russia went in front but also the elation when Poland levelled! Once the celebrating started in the bar over the road for the goal there was a build up of a 'Woooooohhhhhh...' chant for 5 seconds until we saw what's probably been the goal of the tournament so far!

After the final whistle the square was flooded with face painted and flag adorned locals and cars beeping their horns as the town locked down for a party. Maybe OTT for a draw but given the history between the two countries it reminded me of our moral 1-1 victory against England in 1990. We hung round for a while before leaving the younger generation of fans to the party, if any single Irish fans were hoping to pull a local lass then that was the night, no question!

The following morning were were up early for the noon train to Gdansk where we arrived about 3.15 and got taxis to our hotel. We're about 20 minutes drive outside the city on the beach here, hotel is decent even if the area is a bit sleepy. Should probably give a special mention to Terry the Tash who's been acting as an unofficial travel agent for a huge number of the green army and sorted this hotel for us. The trip's been like 4 different holidays so far, from the madness of a city break in Berlin to a football trip in Poznan to a cultural break of sorts in Torun and onto the beach here.

We watched the games in a beach bar yesterday and the butterflies for today's match really started when looking at Holland managing to still have a chance of going through despite two losses but knowing that a second loss for us today is curtains for our chances.

The more relaxed pace of the last few days means that in general minds and bodies have recovered and are ready for the Spanish inquisition later! Walters for Doyle would be my change with the players carrying knocks hopefully having benefited from the extra days. Some gametime for McClean as well hopefully if we need something in the second half. We head into the centre at lunchtime more in hope than expectation but certain that whatever the result the players and fans will do our utmost to do the country proud.

Is feidir linn. Believe!

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