Brian Dougherty's Euro 2016 Blog
Well what another night that was.
Real back to the wall defending but the fantastic relief as news filtered down that we have qualified for the knock-out stages.
The planned tourist trail didn’t materialize on Tuesday as the weather was more akin to Pettigo than Paris. However we managed to find an authentic watering hole just yards from those charging three times the price. Think ‘Allo, Allo’.
What seemed an innocuous short stop over turned out to be one of the best days craic of the trip.
A group of Austrian supporters asked if they could join us and before you knew it the bar-man was playing Will Griggs is on fire over the music system – on loop!
The bar filled up and we were joined by English fans as their team’s game was shown on TV. That’s the thing – we seem to have become a magnet for other teams and locals. In Nice for example the NI Supporters Club were asking supporters to distribute GAWA flags to locals.
One very elderly couple asked me for two and started singing ‘Weeel Gregs on fire!’
The day of the match was the usual gathering of supporters and noise. A hefty Waterside contingent had made their way back from Nice and Londonderry.
There was a huge German support too and again the banter was superb. Parc de Princes, unlike the other stadia is relatively close to the fanzone so on this occasion we walked out to the ground. One stretch included a 500 yard tunnel.
With thousands of fans packed in and in full voice – you can imagine the noise that generated. Myself and Bryan Hastings were fortunate to receive hospitality passes to made use of those prior to taking our seats.
People from home have asked what its like at games. It’s quite simply brilliant.
15, 000 or 20,000 GAWA fans having the time of their lives singing continually during the game is something to behold.
Regardless of the performance on the field – that really is the abiding memory. The noise is deafening.
For a while the Polish, Ukranian and German fans gave as good as they got – they usually though submit and end up joining in.
The most bizarre and brilliant memory for me will be the 45 minutes after the game last night. The Will Griggs song played on loop by the PSG karaoke with all NI fans still in the stadium will remain with me a lifetime.
Two hours later when we made our way back on the Metro it was still being sung, by every-one on the train. The train was literally bouncing.
We took on some of the outdoor music festival that was happening across the city and had a relatively early night.
Back to Lyon in the morning for another night before I’m due to fly home from Dublin. I have this nagging desire, though, to stay another few days.
Wales v Northern Ireland in the last 16 has a great ring to it.