I was keen to see the fan park, I remember the one in Castlefield four years ago – that was alright. This time we had to pre-book tickets, D was kind enough to do this weeks ago! KD joined us at 6:30pm and we went directly there – bumped into A (from uni) in the queue and spoke briefly about stuff. She’s the same as usual, nice to bump into her. The beer was £4 a pint and there’s a limit of two pints per purchase, the food was surprisingly cheap – food vouchers are bought from a stall and I paid £3 for a decent burger and £1 for a half tray of chips. The stalls were all sponsored by Bem Brazil.
My initial reaction was the small size of the thing, until I realised the entrance faced the back of the main stand, once around – there’s a beach football pitch and three sides of seating facing a screen in the middle. It was fairly decent actually and luckily because we were early, we got seats! I juggled my pint and trays of food to the seats… and waited. We waited and waited… while a beach football game went on, England versus Uruguay – wait, we have a beach football team?!? We won 5-2 but I wasn’t that bothered… interesting display of a different kind of skill set, I can’t imagine running barefooted on sand being easy! It was alright I guess…
We stood for the national anthem, and… off we went. First half… not exciting, and definitely not with the same ‘enthusiasm’ as against Italy. Something was lacking, like… a goal! Uruguay put a wall of men behind the ball and played deep, they probably knew we lack the quality to get through, they got it spot on! Then, they scored lol! Jagielka paused to play the offside trap but it didn’t work, so he was already two steps behind Suarez when he headed it in… basically I reckon our defender was caught in no-man’s land, a bad decision was made instead of doing everything he could to prevent the ball getting closer to our net. Also G Johnson should have done a lot better to stop the incoming cross, I thought he was suspect in the first half.
I nipped out for the loo… realised I couldn’t get back in the same way, had to walk around the stand to the other side, quite a clever system. I think overall the event was well organised, things were put in place to prevent trouble, there were plenty of stewards, the kids had a great time on the fake beach after they opened it up, people were allowed closer to the screen. They also had some gorgeous cheerleaders and Brazilian dancers and drummers. Really impressed by this well-run fan park, a big pat on the back for the people who organised this.
Second half, we managed to pull a goal back – the momentum was with us after Rooney scored his first World Cup goal. I honestly thought we could do it… right before Gerrard headed a goal backwards… onto the feet of Suarez and he belted it in. Well, we were 2-1 down and never looked dangerous enough to get another goal or two back. We just didn’t have the personnel to produce a fight back. Say all you want about England – we just weren’t good enough, that’s the bottom line. We shouldn’t be a goal down if our defending was up to scratch.
So, it trickled down.
And the whistle went…
Heads were down, foul words thrown about, and everyone stormed towards the exit… myself included. It’s a shame my evening ended like this, on the whole I thought the whole fan park was excellent – it was civilised and it was suitable for families. I think it’s a huge success!
I headed back… meh, nothing else to do but try to watch Japan versus Greece to erase my last two hours of football. We’re not out yet but we’re very unlikely to make it out, bar a miracle like a river card in a poker game…
So, we’re out then!