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On the road to Poznan

EURO 2012 FANS’ BLOG

THE departure for mainland Europe was an occasion marked with a trip to Copper Face Jacks in Dublin. A nod to the Jack Charlton era and the “give it a lash” mentality so despised by Roy Keane – sport and feckless pleasure mixing like a red bull and Jaegermeister.

Robbie Keane took the Spurs team here for the players’ Christmas party a few years back. Harry Redknapp duly stripped the Spurs captaincy from him, before he lost his place in the team and was shown the door. I can speak for Robbie when I say that the cheesy music, overpriced drinks and endless supply of teachers and nurses in Harcourt Street’s finest establishment was worth it.

Thankfully none of the squad of our travelling fans sustained injuries, and myself and Martin assembled at Dublin Airport for international duty “tired and emotional”, as RTE described a still inebriated Eamon Dunphy on air during the 2002 World Cup.

Our first leg of the trip was a wet and cold Amsterdam. Our linguistic preparation consisted of watching YouTube videos of former England and current Dutch club FC Twente manager, Steve McLaren speaking disjointed English in a Dutch accent. After several viewings we felt we had mastered the art of condescending communication. Yesh!

Amsterdam is famous for its liberal approach to a lot of things, including use of mild drugs. There is an important distinction between coffee shops and cafes, with the latter being an establishment where you might buy a filter coffee and the former where you might select a joint of marijuana and smoke it freely.

Interestingly in Coffee Shops, where smoking cannabis is tolerated by the authorities, smoking tobacco isn’t and many Coffee Shops don’t have a licence for selling alcohol. This is all according to the Lonely Planet guide for Amsterdam of course.

Throughout Amsterdam green Irish jerseys were visible and the support for the Boys in Green is growing steadily.

A train to Dusseldorf was the next stage of our journey where we joined more friends from Ireland and picked up two awkwardly large camper vans, allegedly the last two in western Germany according to the hire company.

These vans more closely resemble buses, how they handed over the keys to us with our small vehicle driving licences can only be described as an act of kindness – or stupidity. Only time, and the number of dents in the bodywork, will tell. The camper van rental yard was full of Irish all embarking on the rocky road to Poland.

From Dusseldorf we drove to Leipzig in East Germany. Here we are staying for two nights before moving on and across the border into Poland.

At our campsite we were joined by many Germans enjoying a German bank holiday with their more practical and austere camper vans. If only they worked a bit harder or got a better credit card they too could enjoy the debt-fuelled lavish lifestyle we Irish are enjoying.

Bank of Ireland had some generous credit card offers a few years back, the Germans should have got involved.

Poznan is the scene where thousands of Irish fans are congregating for the first game against Croatia. We have our match tickets, novelty hats and tricolour bunting sorted.

The trap for European success is set – and so are we.

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Old Vic MPU

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