A word from your England correspondent making his maiden speech all the way from Cairns, Australia.
After arriving in Japan tired, ticketless and homeless, I was immediately buoyed by learning that the French had been beaten by Senegal. From that moment on started an eighteen day rollercoaster ride of Japanese culture and a feast of football that is the World Cup.
Fast forwarding two weeks from my arrival, the England bug has found it’s way into my system after managing to see two out of the three England games – but would I get to Saturday night’s match against Denmark?
After travelling to Niigata on a wing and a prayer (aided by the bullet train), I set off to watch the Germany v Paraguay game. After some stereotypically drab play I was grateful for half time, but I was becoming increasing restless with my lack of ticket.
I hit the streets armed with my trusty “Any spare tickets?” sign, which had been so successful at the Nigeria game.
After encountering some outrageous tout prices I chanced upon a man who asked me if I was prepared to buy his mate’s Category One ticket for face value. After spending silly money on the Sweden and Nigeria games the Gods had finally smiled on me. I couldn’t get the money out of my wallet fast enough.
On a high parallel with anything Pink Floyd could have reached in their heyday, I set off to the stadium.
What followed was one big party – from the moment I entered the stadium and long into the night aterwards. After Rio scored the first goal, ‘The Engerlund’ were never seriously threatened, every goal greeted with yours truly running up and down the aisles with England flag raised aloft. We reached half time and after a quick bar stop the party could resume.
With the game already sewn-up in the second half, the chants of “Let’s all have a disco, Let’s all have a disco” became harder to ignore, thus we conga-d up and down the aisles, and joined by both English and Japanese we dodged the stewards to party away the rest of the match.
The partying continued until the early hours, with both the Danes and the English in arms (to the chants of “We love your bacon, we do”!), in downtown Niigata.
Very tired but still elated I made my way to the station to catch the 7 ‘o’ clock train back to Tokyo.
This was one of the best nights of my life – the atmosphere and the result both perfect – I’m just gutted to now be in Australia, and missing the opportunity to watch England v Brazil on Friday. Still the wallet and the bank balance will be very happy about that.
All for now – Good Luck to Everyone (except maybe the Brazilians and the Germans)
Wonder how much a plane ticket to Japan costs?
Written by Tim Noble on Tuesday, June 18th, 2002
Phil and I are heading over to Japan for the England v. Brazil game… though currently ticketless. Would have been a joy to meet you over there, Tim.
You lucky b####rds – but be strong and don’t get carried away with football fever. (Especially at the prices that you’ll be offered).
I can understand that this might seem like a difficult thing to do after last nights amazing result.
You’ll be pleased to hear that the Korean’s victory was greeted with much applause and cheering down here as well.
I’ve heard that the Japanese don’t have big video screens anywhere in town or around the grounds… its that true? If we don’t get into the game, I’d hate to miss watching it entirely.
In some places they don’t have any public viewing – but in some they do. Unfortuanately I didn’t get to Shizuoka so I’m not sure.
Any tickets you’re after, you should be able to get in the town itself – but the brave wait outside the ground until just before kick off for the cheapest prices. Have you got the balls?