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Matthew Bates’ Euro 2016 Blog: Day Two

12 June 2016

Pools defender Matthew Bates is back with another update from France after he and his friends attended Saturday night's England game against Russia in Marseille.

Sunday 12th June 2016, 2.30pm BST

Hello and welcome to my second update from France after a brilliant first day here – despite the disappointment of England not holding on to all three points against Russia.

Our camp-site where we’re based with our two camper vans is about twenty minutes outside of Marseille so we headed in at around 5.30pm local time (we’re an hour ahead of England here) and enjoyed a few drinks around the town.

A few of us then made our way in to the Fan Zone itself in Marseille to see what that was all about and there was a great atmosphere. We all had tickets for the England game but we were in three separate groups so some of the lads were keen to get across the ground early and give themselves plenty of time to get through the security checks.

Me, my brother Darren, Brunton, Joe and Shaun stayed to enjoy a bit more of the atmosphere in the Fan Zone – it was my idea really because I said if we got to the ground half an hour before kick-off, my reasoning being that it would be a bit quieter then and we would get straight in.
So we had a few more drinks in the Fan Zone and watched the second half of the Wales game before heading towards the stadium – which turned out to be a good 25-minute walk! We got through the security checks and got to our seats in the impressive Velodrome just five minutes before the kick-off! I’m so glad we didn’t miss the start of the game because I would have been in massive trouble with the lads for suggesting we stay in the Fan Zone so long!

The atmosphere inside the ground was unbelievable and the seats we got couldn’t have been any better. And it looked as though it was going to be the perfect day when Eric Dier blasted his brilliant free-kick in to the top corner of the net, only for us to concede that devastating equaliser right at the death.
We saw the trouble unfolding in the stands at the end of the game; from where we were it looked as though a group of Russia fans charged across in to a mixed zone where the majority of people were England supporters.

We then decided to head out of the ground and it was quite a long walk to get out of the secure area but we really struggled to get a taxi because we wanted to get back to the camp site. We didn’t really fancy the port area town which is where a lot of other England fans were heading. It’s a good job we didn’t too, judging by the fact we woke up to see the fighting that took place again down there.
We didn’t manage to get back to our camp-site until about 1am in the end where we sat outside and had a couple more drinks and discussed the game. Then it was off to bed to reflect on a great day which was slightly spoiled by the Russia goal but remained a great experience to be there at the game.

On Monday we’ll set off for the next leg of our journey when we’ll head towards Paris. We’re spending two nights there which gives us a lot of time to have a look around and that’s something we’re all really looking forward to.
I’ll be back to let you know how we get on in Paris soon.


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