Posted: 5/24/2016


      Actually, because of commercial problems England hosted Turkey at MANCHESTER CITY STADIUM, and not the Etihad.

        I think that it's great to have England playing in the provinces instead of at Wembley in North London all the time. This was the first of three pre EURO 2016 warm up matches with the next one on Friday 27th at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland v Australia and the final one a week later v Portugal at Wembley.  Last time Turkey played in Sunderland in 2003 local thugs started a near riot outside so hosting The Aussies  is a little less controvertial.

       Turkey have never beaten England and in fact have never scored a goal against The Three Lions at home or away. They lost 8-0 at Wembley in 1987. However they have qualified  for FRANCE 2016 . After winning only one of their first five qualifiers they won four of the next five to progress as best third place team, after many years in the wilderness. They qualified for BRAZIL 1950 but pulled out due to lack of funds. They made it to SWITZERLAND 1954 World Cup  and lost in a play-off with West Germany  who beat them and qualified for the last eight and went on to beat Hungary in the Miracle in Bern in the final.  It was almost half a century before qualifying for a World Cup again in 2002 Japan/Korea and came in third place,.They made it to EURO 1996 in England and again. at EURO 2008 Austria/Switzerland.. I watched them lose 1-0 to Croatia at the City Ground, Nottingham in 1996.

     Manager Fatih Terim is in his third spell and they are quite skillful. Most players are with Turkish league clubs such as Galatasaray, Besiktas, Fenerbahce, Trabzonspor, Bursaspor llus Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Mainz. and star manArda Turan of Barcelona. Manchester City Stadium is more impressive than ever with 3 tiers since the recent improvements, and with 'sensible' ticket pricing there were lots of families with young children present.

     I was sitting near The England Band on Sunday who are all vollunteers, mosty from Sheffield and are Wednesday supporters where they started performing. The F.A. give them tickets for all England matches but travelling 75 countries so far... costs a fortune. 'Ken' with the tuba tells me he spend £6,000.00 going to Brazil in 2014. They had a small sponsor Pukka Pies for a while and could seriously do with a major new one.

     The only stadium that wouldn't allow them to bring in their instruments was the Dombass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine in 2008 even though it is a sister city with Sheffield ! At the second England match there, against Sweden,  the local organizers relented. The stadium is now in a war zone and the local club FK Shakhtar Donetsk has to play hundreds of kilometers away in Lviv.

       With Manchester United having won the F A Cup at Wembley the day before, their players, including captain Wayne Rooney, were rested. Local hero and England's No.1 Joe Hart was in goal and we had the chance to see young Lions Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Jamie Vardy. We didn't have to wait long before the Spurs striker opened the scoring after only three minutes, although later it seems that he was offside. The lead lasted just 10 minutes until Bayer Leverkusen's Hakan Calhanoglu  scored an historic equalizer, the first ever goal against England..

        Attack, attack, attack seemed to be the England tactics although their shooting was often wide of the mark.  In the 70th minute Jamie Vardy was brought down in the box but Kane's shot hit the outside of the post. Vardy saved the day by smashing the winner after 83 minutes after a mad scramble from a corner. Final 2-1.

     The Leicester striker will not play on Friday as he gets married on Wednesday, though most of his England team mates will miss the wedding. He scored 24 goals for City but seemed uncomfortable on the left wing until he moved into the centre later on. Raheem Sterling was so so and Hodgson's favourite Jack Wilshere played only 70 minutes after spending most of the season on the sidelines,

     The ticket office had a SOLD OUT sign, but there were plenty of empty seats.

   It is a pleasure getting to and from the match to the city centre, just 3 stops and five minutes to Manchester Piccadily from the stadium by METROLINK light rail.