Monaco 1 Liverpool 0: Not Very Nice
Posted by Olly on November 30, 2004, 02:46:42 PM
As we set off on our journey to the south of France we wonder what lies ahead. With our injury woes none of us are too confident that we'll get a result, and with the problems trips to France have caused us in the past, we’re hoping for a slightly more positive reception from our hosts.
Having not made our millions just yet we decide to stay in Nice, and book into a cheap but decent hotel near the main train station. Plum, Aidan and myself have one room, with Alan, Carl and Bucharest John in the other. Three minutes after closing the door, we get a knock on it. Opening it we find three muppets stood outside looking sheepish – they’ve managed to lock themselves out of their room already! Doh!
We head down Nice’s main shopping street in search of beer, and immediately notice the large number of beggars on the streets, and the huge amount of dog shit on the pavements. We must have looked fairly odd hopping left and right at the last minute to keep our trainers clean. Other than that Nice looks great – the Christmas lights are up and the closer we get approach the old town the streets became narrow and cobbled.
Walking along a street near the old town we get bombarded by pigeons crapping from the trees overhead, and so dive into the nearest pub for some liquid refreshment. We find Peter, Mark, Bungle, Mooro and Kenny and a good few other reds, and soon the songs start up as the beer flows, with the bar staff looking on in amusement. As hunger strikes we find a nearby restaurant, and sit down for a hearty meal washed down with a couple of bottles of red wine, before hitting the beer trail once again. We end up in a bar called Thor in the flower market, where after meeting Lee, Ali and Christine we settle down to drink the night away, singing songs and generally chatting rubbish. Midway through the night a lad comes up to me, and asks if I’m Olly. Correctly, I answer yes. “Great” he replies, “I’m EALSFC15!” Looking at him in shock, I murmur the words “Excuse me”. “EALSFC15” he repeats, and then when still faced with this gormless bloke in front of him, he follows it up with “You know – from the forum”. Oh right. Upon asking if he has a real name it turns out he’s called James, which is both far easier to say and remember. The internet world gone mad! Still, nice to meet you mate. At 1 in the morning Carl promptly falls asleep to the annoyance of everyone apart from Plum who does a little jig round the pub having just cleaned up in a sweepstake we’d arranged on the time Carl would nod off. Lucky git!
Sometime in the wee small hours and a little worse for wear we decide it’s time to get off home. A couple of lads decide to find some alternative entertainment, whilst we head for a street full of Christmas lights safe in the knowledge that it will lead us to our beds. We offer Richie a place to stay as we have a spare bed, and stop off for a kebab. Cue trouble point number 1. Plum, thinking he has already paid, walks off with his food in hand. Mr Kebab looks around, notices that he’s disappeared, grabs a knife and chases after him up the street. Shouting at him, Plum turns round to see this crazed man running towards him brandishing a knife, and promptly soils himself. Explaining that this was all just a huge misunderstanding whilst attempt to avoid castration proves difficult, until we realise the bloke needs paying. Situation averted, we fall into our hotel and try and get some sleep. Richie is having none of this however, and insists on showing us, and anyone else who’s not interested, some porn at full volume on his phone. Lovely!
We wake up the next morning as John bursts into our room with a nourishing breakfast of fruity buns, water and paracetemol. After the usual morning routine, we leave lazy Alan and Carl in bed and take a walk along the beachfront taking in the view and gazing at the beautiful girls in the sun. This becomes far too much for John, who almost immediately starts moaning that his feet hurt and that he needs a beer. To help granddad get through the day we drag ourselves away from the girls and the beach, and grab some lunch at a café by the colourful flower market. With John and Plum hugging their beers, I have an amazing rockfish soup followed by a fillet of John Dory. Incredible food, lovely beer and all served by a dead fit waitress in the sun – c’est la vie!
Meeting up with Big Steve we head into the old town, and upon finding a small square outside the Palais de Justice we put up our banner, and start on the beer. For some reason there is a piano in the square, and so up steps Plum to play a cracking rendition of FOAR and Poor Scouser Tommy to get the reds singing and in high spirits.
At about 6 in the evening lazy Alan and Carl surface and we catch a train to Monte Carlo. Rather than hand over our hard-earned euros to the overpriced bars here, we nip into a park and have a couple of tinnies to pass the time and warm us up. Soon we follow the hoard of reds through the pristine streets of this strange feeling principality, before arriving at Monaco’s horrible little ground. We find a spec and stand watching our bad luck continue. The atmosphere is terrible, the referee is worse, and yet again the shining light is JC. He is absolutely superb, and some of our lads should take a look at him and figure out why he’s idolised by us.
At the end of the game, and with our millionaires traipsing off the pitch, some lad in front of us asks his mate if he fancied going to a strip club. His mate turns round and shouts out “A strip club? A strip club? What's the point?! I’ve been watching c*nts for 90 minutes!” Very funny.
As we trudged back to the train to take us back to Nice, the mood is one of despondency rather than disappointment. Although the performance was bad, that could be excused due to the changes Rafa has been forced to make in recent games. But our injury situation is getting out of control. Another long term injury to an important player in Garcia, and then both of our full backs injured. Feeling thoroughly depressed and fed up we head back to Thor bar in the hope that the enthusiasm and drunkenness of others could cheer us up. After a few beers, I’d perked up slightly and the words of some older, wiser heads (usually along the lines of “Cheer up Ol, you miserable bastard”) had their effect.
By the early hours of the morning, and with the pub shutting and nowhere else allowing 15 lads to walk in, we made our way home. Cue trouble point number 2. As we walk round a corner, past another kebab shop, we pass a car with two lads sat in the front. They start shouting stuff at us, and gesturing at the kebab shop. They then get out, and make gestures that they’re going to shoot us and slit our throats, before one of them starts shouting at a lad working in the kebab shop. One lad is getting too close for comfort so we push him away, only for him to run inside and grab a knife. Taking this as the perfect time to make an exit, we walk away, only for someone to sneak up behind us and punch Carl in the back of the head. Carl falls down, smacks his head on the concrete, and fully expecting to get done, we grab him and run off, whilst getting chased by a gang of lads throwing full cans of beer at us (cheers all the same, but have I’ve had my fill tonight thanks mate). Eventually they get bored, and disappear. What a mess – and for no reason at all. We’re all aware of the reputation of English fans in the south of France, but this was completely out of order, although unfortunately not isolated. We heard of one lad who’d spent the night in hospital having been beaten over the head with a bike chain, and a few other lads had been involved in mini scuffles during their trip. It’s just not needed.
The next day we woke up feeling thoroughly fed up, and just wanting to get home. Not the greatest of trips to be honest, and will probably think twice about going to France again next time. It’s not a patch on our other destinations in recent times, and the difference in attitude between our friends in Spain just 3 weeks previously, and those who “welcomed” us in Nice couldn’t have been more marked. Still, it’s a good 3 months till our next European adventure, be it in the European or UEFA Cup, and my bank manager for one will be rejoicing.© Olly 2004
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