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Long travel delays, poor performances but brilliant atmosphere: My experience of travelling to Germany for the Euros

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Lynn journalist and presenter David Blackmore travelled to Germany to watch the Euros – he shares his experiences with us here…For a country with a reputation for efficiency and engineering prowess, it has been eye-opening to endure Germany’s frustrating railways as I’ve followed England from Gelsenkirchen to Frankfurt and Cologne.Ask any England fan who has travelled over to watch the Three Lions in the Euros and they’ll tell you about long delays, cancelled trains and missed connections.

David arriving in Frankfurt after a 17 hour ordeal on bus ferry and train.
David and friend Simon Price watching England in action against Denmark at Frankfurt’s Deutsche Bank Park

And for those you know who went to our opening game against Serbia, ask them how long it took them to get back to their accommodation from Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen. It took me three hours.But the public transport hasn’t been the only frustration in Germany for those hoping the Three Lions finally end a 57-year wait to win another major football trophy – assuming, unlike Alan Shearer, you’re not counting our victory in Le Tournoi in France in 1997.The performance against Serbia wasn’t great for large spells but the win papered over some of the cracks that were then further exposed after our draw against Denmark on an awful pitch that cut up at every opportunity. We should have done better against Slovenia.

David in Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen for the England Serbia game with friend Simon Price.
David showing his support and appreciation for Euro 2024 volunteers ahead of England’s second group game against Denmark.

The performances in our group games were reminiscent of what I witnessed during my first tournament following England – the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, which is a huge worry, especially for a side that has so much world-class talent. But whilst we’ve not been impressed with what we’ve witnessed on the pitch, the atmosphere in the build-up to all three games has been up there with some of the best I’ve experienced following England.There are more groups of England fans here who are following the Three Lions at a major tournament for the first time, mainly because of how close Germany is to us compared to recent World Cups in Qatar and Russia. But they’ve definitely brought renewed energy to those fans who have seen it all – mostly disappointments – over the past couple of decades and more.

David enjoying a beer in Berlin before heading to the FanPark to watch Germany’s final group game

Throw into the mix the tens of thousands from the Tartan Army – who were in fine form and impressed the locals in every German city they poured into – and it has been an electric atmosphere in every bar and town centre that I’ve ventured into.The noise inside the stadiums was incredible for the start of each England group game; The adrenaline would be surging as the players emerged from the tunnel to a wall of sound.But in the first two games, the lacklustre performances on the pitch certainly dented the mood of the travelling support and the raucous sound in the first 15 minutes, was replaced by nerves and jeers come the final 15 minutes. During the Slovenia game, however, despite what fans were watching on the pitch, they kept singing to show their support for the Three Lions.It was also during our game against Denmark that I was injured after Harry Kane put us ahead after 18 minutes. The supporters surged forward, I was swept off my feet and carried towards the pitch before crashing down onto a seat a few rows in front, my ribs taking the blow, and almost a week on, I’m adamant I’ve cracked a rib.I’ve been surprised at how easily and freely England supporters have been able to stand where they wish at this tournament, and in areas where it is not safe to do so, like the stairs and gangways.Now there’s always been an understanding that people tend to sit where they like, but I’ve been surprised that the stewarding teams have turned a blind eye to fans creating a worryingly dangerous situation. It has also been interesting to hear the different routes England fans have taken to get to Germany. Planes, trains, and coaches via all sorts of different places as well driving themselves.I feel like I trump most England fan’s epic journeys. My journey to Frankfurt saw me leave London at 9pm by coach, we were delayed en route which led to us missing our ferry connection so we had to wait for three hours at Dover.We were then further delayed leaving Calais so I had to seek alternative travel as at one point, it looked like Mission Impossible to get to the stadium in time. A train from Liege helped save the day, albeit I caught a pickpocket trying to steal my phone on my way to the platform, and my total journey time was a staggering 17 hours. This came after an 18-hour journey by coach from London to Gelsenkirchen for the first game against Serbia.My journey to Cologne for our final group game was a far more relaxed affair with a four-hour train from Berlin after having spent a lovely long weekend with German cousins, which included me strolling into the capital city’s fan park to watch Germany’s final group game wearing an England shirt. Was I brave, stupid or did it not really matter? A combination of all three I’d say but it certainly sparked some friendly banter with those supporting Deutschland.

David at the final whistle aftee England’s goalless draw against Slovenia

Now as I travel back to the UK, on another overnight coach, I’m really hoping Southgate’s men can somehow rediscover their swagger and go deep into this tournament.England fans in Germany have been singing, somewhat relentlessly, a reworked version of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in The Dark.They sing about Phil Foden being on fire and him playing the Germans off the park. At the moment I can’t agree with either line becoming a reality in this tournament.But what is true about what they’ve been singing, as The Boss also sings, is that you can’t start a fire without a spark, and Southgate needs to find his team’s spark quickly, otherwise we’ll be saying Auf Wiedersehen to Euro 2024.

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