ME AND my mates are off to the European Championships in France at the end of the week and I am very excited at the prospect of meeting up with the same group of lads that I’ve toured all over Europe with watching footie over many, many years.
We even managed to sneak in two World Cups out of Europe, in South Africa and Brazil, without our wives finding the credit card bills. But, as ever, the Sunday papers have tried to put a dampener on it.
We apply for tickets before the draw is made and go with whatever we’re allocated. This time, we have no England games but will be basing ourselves around Toulouse and Bordeaux. We’ve still got some great games to see and – with the England games – it will be the camaraderie and the atmosphere in fan zones.
But according to the red-tops, England fans pose the biggest threat to police at Euro 2016 and will be tracked by state-of-the-art drones. Police hope that by monitoring crowd movements they can stop violence at the tournament. But the police say England supporters are still seen as the highest risk on the yob front. They predict that up to 70,000 will arrive without tickets, although I won’t believe that until I see it.
Meanwhile, the WAGs have been given a stiff talking to by the FA about what they share on social media, amid fears they could be targeted by terrorists during the Euros. They have all been booked into a secret location, a short distance from where the England squad are staying in Chantilly, a short distance from Paris. The girlies have been banned from the team’s hotel, the Auberge du Jeu Paume, and their partners will be chauffeured to them in times set aside by boss Roy Hodgson.
A source said: “We are keeping the WAGs’ locations completely under wraps; they’re going to be staying out of the way in low-key places.” They’ll include Amy Fletcher, partner of James Milner, and Joe Hart’s wife Kimberley Crew.
I think it will take a man a lot stronger than Hodgson to keep that pair and the others out of the designer handbag shops of Paris. And as for them keeping photos of their latest Prada purchases off Twitter and Instagram – no chance!
Judging by photos in The Sun, the England squad need to lighten up big time if they are to hold any hope of Euro 2016 glory. The miserable bunch were pictured boarding a plane at Luton airport with faces like thunder. The Three Lions team decided to fly out to France rather than taking the Eurostar because of the amount of baggage they are taking to Paris. Jesus, that’s before the WAGs have escaped the ring of steel around them and hit the boutiques.
There also seems to be a varying and weird policy on booze in the fan zones across the country. Huge tanks of Carlsberg lager have been spotted in the fan zone in Marseille ahead of England’s game with Russia, with thousands are expected to arrive Marseille to watch the match in the Stade Velodrome. Officials hope the fan zones, with giant TV screens, will create a carnival atmosphere in the sunshine – but other host cities across France have banned booze during the tournament. If that includes Toulouse or Bordeaux, there will be a quick change of plan.
I AM well and truly Brexit-ed out now but I did raise a wry smile about the story in the Daily Mail of that equally gobby pair Katie Hopkins and Sir Bob Geldof who were chairing a debate encouraging young people to vote in the referendum. Apparently Geldof refused to enter the studio until Hopkins had left. The idea of that pair of loud-mouthed gob shites in the same room doesn’t bear thinking about.
I’m off to get the missus to iron my football shirts. Wish me luck!
Kevan Blackadder is a media consultant who runs Blackadder Media Limited. Kevan was previously editor of the Gloucestershire Echo and assistant editor of the Bristol Post. A Cumbrian who moved to the South West “for a couple of years” in the 1980s, he can’t quite believe he’s been there ever since.