The Dons of Donetsk
England show their hosts no charity!
By Darren Williams. Last Updated: June 24, 2012 4:25pm
Loud and proud!
Get in there... we did it!
"The 10 days watching all of our qualification games, meeting new friends and the whole Ukranian experience is one I will never forget."
FanZoner at the Euros Darren Williams Quotes of the week
After 10 days in which I have swapped my home comforts for that of a Ukranian Euro 2012 fan campsite to support my beloved England, our final game against the host nation arrived and what a finish we had to what has been a memorable qualifying campaign... and experience!
Having seen England fans come and go of the past week and a half, we saw an increase in our fans who arrived for the last game. Having been there from the start, it was good to be able to offer the newbies help and advice with regards to the camping site, its facilities, public transport, local information, general do's and don't's and more importantly which were the best and cheapest local beers!
We started the day at the Camping Park and first up was a live interview with the very lovely Amanda Walker on Sky News. Amanda visited our site to report on our thoughts, comments and living conditions. I explained that the facility was a good one. Hot showers, secure area's for valuables, wi-fi, cash machines, discos and music as well as 24 hour bars, snack areas and the 2012 Miss Camping Site girls made the stay bearable with the only downsides being the heat in the tents, and the communal "stand-up" toilets!
We made our way to the FanZone area to soak up the pre-match atmosphere and join in some of the activities on offer. From there we headed to the Golden Lion pub where England fans congregated as a base to drink, sing, display flags, banners and psyche themselves up for the game. As in previous games England fans were loud, rowdy and gave the Ukranian fans some stick but again all was good natured with no trouble at all and no need for any intervention from the local police who all seemed to be wearing Robo Cop outfits!
Knowing a draw would do, we were all confident that Roy Hodgson's Barmy Army would see us through against hosts Ukraine who had exceeded expectations and had proved to be no push over in the previous group games.
I agreed with Roy's starting line-up and Wayne Rooney did not let us down. Whilst nervy at times, to me the result was never in doubt and John Terry's goal line clearance (or not) typified that the luck was with us this time. With Sweden surprisingly beating France, we once again sang our hearts out for Queen and country and went duly mental on the final whistle to not only win the game and dump out the hosts but to qualify unbeaten as group winners!
Following the game we had to get our skates on and start our epic return journey home. Our ports of call on the way back to the UK were certainly interesting in relation to the tournament... Ukraine (Out) Russia (Out) and the Amsterdam (Out) made sure the England shirts we travelled home in certainly got noticed!
The 10 days watching all of our qualification games, meeting new friends and the whole Ukranian experience is one I will never forget. I've been bitten by the England bug now and have not ruled out returning for the knockout stages if I am able!
Regardless of what England do now, these memories will stay with me for a very long time and should we achieve the dream of lifting the Euro 2012 trophy then I can be proud to say that I was part of it.
Is this our year? Is football finally coming home and will my feet return to their natural smell? Let's bloody hope so!
COME ON ENGLAND!!!