A nincompoop minority of English football hooligans involved in drunken disturbances in Marseille have inadvertently proved a pain-in-the-neck for the impeccably behaved Welsh and Irish fans in France including those members of the Green and White Army from Londonderry.
Back in February Londonderry Northern Ireland stalwart Ivan Simpson, figuring 90 per cent preparation equals 10 per cent perspiration, was on-the-ball and booked a coach to run him and a band of fellow supporters from the La Baume camp site on the Côte d’Azur to the Stade des Lumieres in Lyon for today’s crunch match against Ukraine.
“I booked it for £1,895 back in February,” Ivan told the Sentinel from his base in Fréjus.
“But we got a phone call from the company at short notice to say they had to cancel it because the French agency were refusing to take any football supporters after what had happened with the England and Russia fans”.
Mr Simpson said he received a full and prompt refund from the Berkshire head-quartered Momentum Coach Hire upon the refusal of the French drivers to take any football supporters.
However, the cancellation meant it was a case of planes, trains and automobiles for the fans trying to get to the ‘Capital of Gaul’ today.
In fairness to Momentum they were placed in an impossible position when the French drivers asked: “Britannique? Merci mais non merci.”
When the Sentinel contacted the company they had been desperately trying to arrange an alternative coach for Mr Simpson and had one lined up.
A spokesperson told the paper they empathised with the plight of fans from Ireland and Wales and believed those supporters were being unfairly discriminated against.
“After the troubles at [the] weekend a number of local French companies (and their drivers) refused to do ‘British’ based companies and fans. We have secured an alternative local company for Mr Simpson.
“We had already refunded him straight away so we need to know if he wants to go ahead. It’s not fair the Irish and Welsh have been tarnished with same brush.”