Celebrating his 50th Birthday, Stuart Rooker finance director selected to watch England take on Slovakia in Saint-Etienne in France
The 3rd game of England?s group qualification could be pivotal with the new system of qualification with the top 2 spots automatically qualifying for the knock out stage.
Stuart?s first surprise came with the arrival of the Slovak team at the same hotel. Security was very tight to get in and out of the hotel with the local armed police out in force.
?As we checked into the hotel we were very politely requested not to wear our England shirts in reception due to the Slovakian Team… we complied to a point but pointed out no chance on match day.?
Simon Lamb, MD
The Slovakian players were very gracious and even posted for pictures before the game. Despite Stuarts best attempts he failed to get Marek Hamsik autograph but the MD managed to get a quick photo with Juraj Kucka before kick off.
On match day by 10am the main square in Saint-Etienne was awash with England and Slovakian supporters and blasts of 3 lions, don?t take me home rang around the square all day punctuated by the odd retort form enthusiastic Slovakian fans, but then a visit from Her Majesty had ?God save the Queen? ringing in our ears!
There was no repeat of the earlier issues with Russian fans as both sets of supporters soaked up the atmosphere. Swapping photos and sharing the odd beer. A draw would see both teams qualify and this seemed to be the fans consensus before the game.
England Fans numbered over 30,000 in the Geoffroy Guichard stadium provided a tremendous atmosphere with loud vocal support throughout the game but despite this and England?s dominant performance the Slovakian team remained resolute and parked the proverbial bus in front of goal resulting in a nil nil draw!
?What a fantastic 2 days, we saw France play in a French bar with great hospitality and sat next to Slovak fans in the stadium, it was a great festival of football.?
The English team is always well supported with English fans eager to watch their side paying upwards of 250 Euros to get a match ticket. The atmosphere created before the game with songs, flags and chants creates the festival that the Euros has begun to enjoy.
?The English fans were awesome, the singing and noise in the stadium was incredible, shame they didn?t get to see a goal.?
?I have never seen England play away, the whole scene is incredible and needs to be seen to be believed. The sheer numbers that travel even without tickets is incredible ? truly awesome experienced many thanks.?
We wish England every success but will now experience it like so many fans watching it on TV.
With a quick stop off at Lyon to catch the flight home a visit to the fan zone and nearby sites shows how the French cities have taken Euro 2016 to their hearts. Pockets of bleary eyed fans are greeted by the local population to watch them recharge their batteries and prepare for another day of expectation.
A big thanks to the Swiss FA for providing the tickets. The Mercure hotel for their hospitality, the Slovakian team for parking the bus and all those fans we met along the way.