The biggest pitch side billboard at Herning Stadion opposite my press seat on the half way line is the McDonalds I'm lovin' it sign. Well, last night in Midtijylland I wasn't having a great night as an England fan.
The Young Lions have been a huge disappointment. Staying in luxury accommodation compared with Belarus who drove all the way across Eastern and Central Europe to Scandinavia by bus!! In the main tribune we have two hardly-able-to-walk FA councillors,plus Sir Trevor Brooking, Mr. Gareth Southgate, Howard Wilkinson, Franco Baldini, and next to me four FA performance analysts jotting notes down on special forms.
Before the match I chatted outside the main entrance with a guy and his staff who are employed to transport, wash, iron all uniforms and equipment for all of England's teams. The stadium entrance with its statue of a wolf, mascot of local club FC Midtijylland is covered with sticky black tape because UEFA want stadiums free of local commercial 'branding'. It's real name is MCH Arena. Up in my area some stewards, with warm jackets in the crisp evening air have black tape over the brands on their clothing. Daft??
Herning had been boring, boring last Sunday. I went back to the chicken rotiserrie restaurant Kylling & Co with expectations early afternoon and was told they only had the chickens on the spit starting at 4.00pm!! However, I walked into FOTEX Store on the long walking street and found the QUICKSNACK cafe. POLSE MIX looked inviting and what a hit!!! small pieces of sausages, a huge pile of french fries and three different sauces. Can't wait to return.
I had an interesting chat with the manager of the tourist office Peer Kristensen. Herning wants to be THE PLACE TO VISIT in all of Denmark and the EVENT CAPITAL. Lots of exhibitions, concerts Justin Beiber, Eric Clapton, Rihanna, sport, festivals. Unfortunately Denmark has 25% tax on hotels, and I had to take the midnight train back to Aarhus in order to get to Billund Airport the next day. He and his 12 year old son had missed the start of the England v Spain match and the Spanish fans missed their only goal in the 20th minute due to UEFA insisting on body searches at the last minute. DAFT M.Platini.!!
Well, what about the match? Ukraine in all yellow matched the expensive England players in all areas. Again the England defence was solid but the forwards, so athletic, so huge, so talented could not penetrate and were not bright enough to sizzle. A day later it was a match I forgot, apart from about 300 loud and enthusiastic Ukrainian fans who live and work in local agriculture and were great for atmosphere in a sparse 3,500 crowd.
Waiting for the train to Arhus after catching the 'football special' bus from the stadium I chatted on platform 4 with Finn, an industrial pysychologist, who called Herning the Wild West, with his clients crumbling under the pressure of work and California-style narcisism.
Two pieces of news today. 95 year old Dr. Joao Havelange is going to be investigated by the I.O.C. over his bribe paid by ISL. He is still a member, and also Honorary President of FIFA ( with a MASSIVE pension and 5 star expense allowance), and Monserrat 2 v Belize 5-THE FIRST of 832 qualifying matches in the quest for FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil. It was played in Couva,Trinidad because Monserrat, 202nd in FIFA ranking has nowhere to play after the 1995 volcanic eruption.
A few hours, even later news. The return match in Belmopan on June 19 has been postponed following FIFA suspending FFB the Belize association due to government interference and banning police from protecting the stadium and the delegations.