Monday, 2 July 2012

My Euro 2012 Adventure

Every time the location of a European Championship is announced, my friends and I fly into action with a flurry of texts.
‘Right this year, we’re going to go’, one will say.
‘I’m up for it, agrees another’.
‘No this time I’m serious, we’re going to do it, it’s now or never’.
We usually get as far as searching the price of a pint in said country before abandoning it as non-starter.
Short of traipsing across Europe, the best on trains, planes and automobiles,  the only  way we could be sure to capture a bit of that Three Lions matchday atmosphere , was by hitting the pubs of Preston.
For our tournament’s opener against France, on the Monday cars were abandoned at LEP Towers as we hot-footed it down to The Sumners, in Watling Street Road, just in time to miss the first 15 minutes of the match!
Thankfully however, lots of other people seemed also seemed to have got stuck at work and we were able to get a seat close to one of numerous big screens. Popular with North End fans, I had expected it to be packed out by the time I got there, so a prime seat was an unexpected bonus.
The second match against Sweden was on a Friday night and I was in the mood for letting my receding hair down and enjoying a few pints of ale, so we headed straight for the Old Black Bull.
Ringing with nervous tension I quickly ordered a beer as I scoped out the best place to stand.  By the time kick-off came I was so excited, all I could do was sup my beer to keep me from jumping around the place.
My pint of Duck and Dive was pretty much gone by the time the players had mumbled the national anthem so I dashed back to the bar for a refill. Only then did I realise said beer which I had gulped down was, at 5.9% proof, rather stronger than my usual tipple. It did, however, make for a lively night which on the way home culminated in the enthusiastic re-enacting of several jaunty lunges, based loosely around the beer’s name. The atmosphere in the pub was good too from what I can remember.
For the Ukraine game we headed to The Wheatsheaf, in Water Lane, Ashton.  I knew exactly what I would get from this one; lots of big screens, bargain priced real ale and free snacks at half –time. You cannot go wrong. They even gave three locals a ‘Director’s Box’ treatment with the best seats in the house, along with free beer all night.
For the crunch quarter-final against Italy we decided against one of Preston’s sports pubs and instead went for Hartley’s in Mount Street. In the back room which is often closed off, they had created a ‘Euro Bar’ and invited regulars to reserve tables to ensure they all got a seat.
The room was just busy enough to build that collective tension which makes watching football so exciting without having to be crushed against a wall and because many people knew each other, the atmosphere was jovial (until the end).
Obviously it all ended in disappointment as it always does but at least it gave me more excuses for evenings in the pub.
‘Now to Brazil for 2014’.

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