Well after 30 years of hurt the big day finally arrived and it certainly was day of two halves.
From early morning the promenade in Nice was a throng of Green and white and the town square with a purely magical atmosphere.
Both sets of fans drank together, sang together and laughed together as they have been doing at several camp sites along the Riviera.
Bars and off-licenses were jammed to capacity and even the locals were singing ‘Will Griggs on fire’.
Shuttle buses were on hand for the 30 minute journey to the stadium. Although a fantastic stadium, for the life of me I cant understand why they build these in the middle of no-where (thank God the Maze stadium proposal didn’t take off).
Even stranger was the 3 mile walk from the shuttle drop off point to the ground.
There were few complaints though as the electric atmosphere built up to a crescendo in the stadium. Then something awful happened – the match started!
Suddenly we decided to do an England, ignore the type of football that got us to the Euros and go into ‘tournament mode’.
It was obvious from the first minute that we had set our stall for the draw and had no plan B when they scored.
The atmosphere remained great but became understandably muted at the final whistle. It was then in a bad mood you noticed the organisational frailties.
There have been understandable concerns over security at the games. However not only was there no more police on view than at any other game, but shoe-horning 35,000 exiting spectators into a two mile bottle neck surely wasn’t wise.
The shuttle buses stopped randomly along a 500 yard platform and was by pure chance if it stopped alongside where you happened to be standing. Each bus was met by a mad scrum with spectators old and young alike literally being pushed onto buses.
There was no semblance of organisation and security didn’t intervene until a group of frustrated Polish fans blocked the road and demanded that the bus stopped where they were standing.
Eventually though we did get back to Nice and all the frustration and disappointment was forgotten as the fans partied long into the night. The GAWA really have been a credit to our wee country and I look forward to meeting up with them again in Lyon for round 2.