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The England v Croatia semi-final: under a cloud of beer!

Hey folks

You know, England might not have got through to Sunday’s final but I’ve loved the World Cup and the positive feeling of having a team that we can be proud of. It’s been such a great feeling and I think I’ve seen nearly every match….usually with the TV on in the background whilst tapping away on my laptop with the never-ending pile of reports to write! However, for Wednesday’s match, I jumped at the opportunity to go down to Brighton Beach on the East Sussex coast and watch it with hundreds of other people. And for only £5 which I thought was great. Would I do it again? No…..but it was an experience that I’ll always remember.

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We were blessed with the most beautiful weather on Tuesday so I got there a couple of hours early……partly to claim a nearby parking space which avoiding trekking halfway across the city but also to claim my space on the beach itself. I knew it’d get crowded! Once through security, I found a line of huts offering food and beer, including an outlet for vegan food, and made my way to a spot quite near the screen. It wasn’t too long until it started to fill up and there was this amazing buzz in the air! Lots of football shirts, England flags, etc. Lots of anticipation that we’d make it through. And then as the players came onto the field, everyone seemed to stand up and move toward the huge screen. At that point, there was a real sense of being in the midst of a large crowd and being at something very special. And then, the whistle blew. The game had begun.

Now, if you were watching the match, you may recall that we (ha, I say we as if I had some role in it!) scored. At this point, I experienced nothing like it. The noise around me, the feeling of people jumping up and down hugging, etc., etc., was electric. But the thing that I will never forget was glancing up during the first few moments of the screams to see a cloud hovering above me. A cloud of moisture where you could see individual droplets. A cloud that was starting to descend. A cloud of…..beer!!! Yes, I had about 3 seconds’ warning until it landed and it just soaked all of us. We were wet through and just knew that we’d stink of beer all night! It really was so funny! I’ll never forget it! 

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The other really great thing was all the football songs being chanted. Before you know it, you’re joining and you’re learning more songs than you knew were out there! There was one about Gareth Southgate. Another about Harry McGuire. And every time anyone blasted 9 short rhythmic bleeps from a horn, everyone erupted into a chorus of ‘ENGLAND’!!!! 

Oh, and another cool thing was a Gareth Southgate look-alike who was busy having his photo taken with the fans! 

But would I do this again? No. Actually, after ‘our’ victory in the quarter-finals, I bought tickets for the final on Sunday which may well have jinxed our luck (sorry everyone!) but, if we had got through, I would have just stayed home to watch it.

Now, I think I’m pretty tall at 5′ 8″ but clearly not! Or perhaps everyone at least 6 foot tall had plotted to stand right in front of me but it’s very much a question of trying to peep thought little gaps to see what’s going on. The atmosphere before the game started was really fun and it stayed that way for about 30 minutes but, as time went on and no doubt more and more people were drinking, it did change. Even when we were 1-1, there just seemed to be a lot of aggression. I’m all for passion  believe me! –  but there was aggression between some people and their mates joining in. And, I don’t know, it just felt a little bit ‘not my kind of place’. Or perhaps I’m just getting a tad old!

But I AM pleased that I went even just to experience it. There were so many people there including some watching it for free high above us from one of the upper roads in Brighton! And I’m sure when 2018 was seen as a great year for what Gareth and his team did, I can say that I was there!

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Just one last thing for today and I have to say that ‘gutted’ doesn’t really describe it. You know the long anticipated sleepover that hubby and I were meant to be going on tonight – Dino Snores for Adults at the Natural History Museum? Where we’d sleep underneath the huge skeleton in the Hintze Hall, eat a sumptuous 3 course meal, have an action-packed night of entertainment? Well, sometimes life gets in the way and things have to be put on hold. ‘Life stuff’ has meant that we can’t both go as one of us should be at home but what I am pleased about is that hubby has gone with a friend and I REALLY, REALLY can’t wait to hear all about it! So, for tonight, the sleepover isn’t happening for me but it will one day. Keep positive, Sarah. Keep positive!

Happy weekend, everyone xx

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