Surviving fast cars, mixed zones and missed goals

VIEW FROM THE PRESSBOX: One football hack has been blogging from Euro 2016 since the tournament started, and he long ago lost his sense of humour, even before that Iceland match

Euro 2016 logoHack missed most of Roy Hodgson’s last hurrah, as he was busy covering Italy v Spain. But he caught a few sniggers in the mixed zone from the assembled media as the goals went in, and even more when he met his driver.

Trains, buses, taxis and planes being as expensive, non-existent or late as they are here in France, Hack has had to resort to a car-share service to keep costs down.

French locals advertise a ride from a set rendezvous to a set location, and you book and pay a small fee online for the privilege. This has led to many adventures so far at Euro 2016, and this journey was no different, as boy racer Francois, 27, zoomed off down the motorway to Lille at 90mph in his black Audi A5, Hack clinging on for dear life in the back seat as the driver played with his phone, fiddled with the radio and steered with his knees.

Even more alarmingly, half an hour later Francois pulled into a deserted truckstop and got out to open the boot. Expecting some kind of baseball bat attack at any moment, Hack cringed and cowered in the dark until his driver got back into the car and offered him a bag of donuts. Never judge a book by its cover.

This could apply equally to the England team. Full of exciting young talent, we were told. Full of players from the best league in the world, we were told. They’re so young they can play with no fear, we were told.

Well if that was playing with no fear, you’d hate to see them when they’re genuinely afraid…

Francois the driver probably summed it up best when Hack told him the score. “Issssland?” he asked, beaming.

“England lose to ISSSSSLAND?!? Aaaahahahahahaha!” Yes, quite.

England managed to leave their mark at Euro 2016 in some ways
England managed to leave their mark at Euro 2016 in some ways

Talk has now turned to which victim England select next as manager. The nation having plumped for Brexit, it would surely be brave of the FA to go for a foreigner. But the claims of Gareth Southgate have so far been met with all the enthusiasm of his feeble penalty against the Germans. Glenn “sins of a former life” Hoddle has even been mentioned (well, by Ray Wilkins and Paul Merson anyway).

As if Hoddle’s co-commentary on the television (including such nuggets as, “If Lloris dived the right way he could have saved that”, and “What you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts”) wasn’t enough…

A video has emerged of Wales celebrating England’s demise. Maybe they were just celebrating the fact that Neil Taylor doesn’t have to go and see Beyonce with his wife, after buying her tickets for the concert not realising that Wales might still be in the Euros. But it’s enough to test the patience of even the most unpatriotic hack.

And there are quite enough things out here to test the patience anyway, thank you very much. Adapter plugs not fitting in sockets because the sockets are too close together, live streaming of press conferences not working because you are “in the wrong region” (France), transcripts of press conferences that don’t exist, translators who talk in riddles, mixed zones full of people who never ask a question, coffee that comes in two sizes – small or tiny. Moan, moan, moan.

Maybe the English just like a moan. Everyone seems to be moaning about something back home, whether they voted Leave or Remain. Perhaps sensing the mood of the nation, England’s players voted out too. Seems only fair really.

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