Posted: 6/18/2016


             Sometimes, exciting, sometimes boring, UEFA FRANCE 2016 carries on despite a few riots, hail stones, flares and late, late goals.

             During Germany v Poland I switched to BBC SPRINGWATCH to watch the much more exciting action of the birth of penguin chicks, and the Arctic Tern that just flew 96,000 km from The Farne Islands to Antarctica and back to sit on its two eggs. Meanwhile Raheem Sterling runs 20 yards down the wing and falls over.

            What about the fashion conscious Hungarian goalkeeper  Gabor Kiraly  and his grey track suit bottoms tucked into his socks. I watched him play for TSV1860 Munich many times in the Allianz Arena. At 40 years he is the oldest player in this tournament.  How about German World Cup winning coach Joachim Low. His butt scratch and sniff and then the same with his 'naughty bits' has given us all a laugh. I wonder what else he learned as assistant to Juergen Klinsmann ?

          One of the more positive things about travelling in France is the train network. Since the FIFA 1998 World Cup the TGV network has been expanded with reduced travel time, particularly to Marseille on the Mediterranean by hours. No need for internal flights, and great regional trains and  bus connections to other cities and tourist resorts and villages. In addition there is an even cheaper train servive using TGV tracks with, operated by SCNF with double decker carriages without food services and limited luggage space but fares starting at 5 EUROS . I used the service from Paris to Marseilles some months ago for next to nothing.

          Lots of passion from the fans singing their national anthems before kick off and during the action. As for double defending champions of the EUROS Spain there is a BIG problem. MARCHA REAL their hymn nacional since 1761 doesn't have any WORDS, so its silence or LA-LA-LA.. The Swiss were so annoyed with their old anthem SCHWEIZERPSALM that they had a competition and chose a new one last year, Looking at their team lined up prior to kick off most don't sing or know the words. Four  official languages, German, French, Italian and Romansh and their multi ethic squad also have Albanian, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, Cameroonian, Ivorian and more as a mother tongue.

           Wales, in theit first major tournament since World Cup 1958 in Sweden sing with passion and gusto. HEN WLAD FY NHADAU (Land of My Fathers) is probably THE best and can lift their team during their matches. After a previous Minister of State for Wales didn't know the words, Prime Minister John Major instructed the next one, William Hague, !!! to find somebody to teach him. He chose Ffion Jenkins....and then married her !!! ITALIA, ITALIA  for the blue clad Italians-the colors of The House of Savoy,- and not encompassed by the red, white and green flag. LA MARSEILLES is also sung with gusto and is probably the most recognisable anthem in Europe.

          The referees are usually easy to complain about but I can't fault A SINGLE one of them so far. Under the influence of Head of Officials for UEFA PIERLUIGI COLINA age 56 from Bologna who was considered the best referee of his generation and 6 times in a row European Referee of the Year. He has instructed the referees to keep the matches flowing as much as possible and has been very successful, with added time to a minimum.

         WHAT ABOUT THE BRTISH MEDIA ? how many pf you like my idea of having all ex managers  who appear as analysts on air should have to have a sign hung around their necks with a list of all the clubs that they have failed and been fired. What about Harry Rednapp who 'writes' a daily story for The Daily Telegraph. Under oath in a recent law case he claimed that he never read a book or written a letter. Why doesn't the Telegraph say 'as dictated to a ghost writer.' Also how did he do the written exams in his coaching licence  He did pass didn't he? Can you FA wallahs enlighten me please?

      I think that GLENN HODDLE, England's 9th team manager out of 17th , from Walter Winderbottom to Roy Hodgson ,has the best analytical mind on TV although he is a little boring.. and had to resign as England boss in unusual circumstances.

    As for the fans: We maybe miss the colourful Dutch ones but DEFINITELY NOT their thuggish players and coaches at the 2010 World Cup Final at Soccer City Johannesburg. Bad parenting who neglected my grannies advise " Spare the rod and spoil the child."    What about the embarassment of PUMA at the 0-0 bore draw between France and Switzerland. Five red Puma jerseys of the Swiss team were rorn and had to be replaced. During the same match the ADIDAS  BEAU JEU ball ( 'Beautiful Game) burst during a hearty tackle by Valon Behrami on France's Antoine Griezmann. Neither player was injured.

        In their first ever international competition ICELAND evidently has 8% of its population supporting 'Strakarnir Okka'r 'OUR BOYS' in France. You may wonder who is feeding all the pets back home? WELL, of course there aren't any dogs....because there are no trees in Iceland !! Another first timer ALBANIA, which used to be such a closed society under dictator Enver Hoxha, has 40,000 fans on tour.  My locksmith who came to fix my door told me that he and his brother  had their match tickets were going to be there to support SHQIPONJAT.The Eagles. After their historic very first victory over Romania their government announced that they would all be issued with diplomatic passports.