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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 18 May 2021
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On Tour: reality bites but Green Army rallies for English game

It may not be big, and it’s certainly not clever, but every Irish fan seemed to be a Ukraine supporter in Poland last night.

Ireland fans before the Spain game this week.
Ireland fans before the Spain game this week.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

YESTERDAY STARTED OUT as the most sombre of all the days on the trip so far with the stinging realisation that we’d already been knocked out of the tournament, and with barely a whimper too, coupled with almighty hangovers knocking the wind out of most people’s sails.

Having a rest day, a day to give the livers and the bowels a rest from the diet of pints and hot-dogs that they’ve been fed the past week, was mooted in many quarters and certainly many people took the time to at least have a nice long lie-in to shake off some of the demons before facing the circus again today.

But then it was remembered that England were playing later on in the day and when England play, Ireland watches. And cheers as if their lives depend on it for whomever it is they’re playing.

And rightly so.

This point has been argued and argued so often that you all know the various cases put by both sides. On the side of supporting them is the argument that we’ve moved on from our bloody past, the north has more or less been sorted out fairly with the Good Friday Agreement, they’re our neighbours and closest allies, we support most of their players when they play for their teams in the Premier League and so on.

On the other side, the side which will boo them and wish them ill no matter the circumstances, the arrogance of the media, the nastiness and arrogance of their fans, their sense of entitlement and confidence no matter the evidence to the contrary of it — these hold sway in the ‘boo England’ camp.

And if you’ve got people in your team as downright loathsome as John Terry, well that clinches it for me. Such is the low regard he is held in by the Green Army that the fans have been singing not one but two songs dedicated to him, songs I would love to share with you here but whose crudeness and libellous nature would get my editor in a bit of trouble and possibly both of us a day in court.

In fact I think Stephen Ireland is the only person with more songs about him than John Terry — by the way Stephen if you’re reading this you’re not wanted back by the Irish fans under any circumstances, at least every single last one who I’ve spoken to. There’s actually a chant now which combines the fans’ dislike of our favourite bald Corkman and England that goes:

“Ohhhhhh Stephen Ireland; He used to be Irish, but he’s English now”

And repeat for as long as you want.

Anyway back to the England game and with Carroll putting them ahead, the game was doing little to lift the Irish fans’ subdued spirits. However, when Sweden equalised and, even better, took a 2-1 lead the crowd came to life, the singing got going properly and the party was once again in full swing.

It didn’t matter that England equalised and then dug out a late winner — some finish by Welbeck for it too — once the mood had been lifted it was staying up for the night again no matter what. Personally speaking I’m of the view there’s a large element of pantomime about it, with no real dislike of England in most quarters just a ‘big bad guy’ for us little guys to root against all the time.

Tonight we’ll be cheering on our Polish hosts as they seek the win to get to the quarters; they’ve cheered and supported us all the way so we’ll be returning the favour again this evening.

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About the author:

Cian O'Callaghan

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