It was out of optimism as much as anything that I booked a one-way flight to Germany for the 10th June. With no place to stay and no obvious way out, I thought I may lose myself in the system and be found driving a taxi in Berlin on my 37th birthday.
As it was I found a reasonable flight out on the 19th, before realising that the city I was to be staying in would be hosting an England game the very next night. Many Google searches later and all is well, and I finally have some accomodation sorted.
So for anyone interested, I'll be staying in Cologne (Köln as it'll come to be to me from now on) from the 10th June to the 22nd June. Day trips will take me to the following cities:
12th June – USA vs Czech Republic – Gelsenkirchen
13th June – France vs Switzerland – Stuttgart
Of course knowing my luck I'll end up in the passenger seat of an Audi Quattro going round the Nurburgring trying to remove my fingernails from the dashboard.
As a Villa fan I'll be happy to be seeing Milan Baros twice, and it'll give me rare opportunity to wear my claret and blue apparel without too much shame. A keen eye will be kept on Jan Koller, or "The Czech John Hartson", as rumours are abound that David O'Leary is grooming him to come to England.
To my eternal disappointment, my research has found that the local delicacy of the region is Kölsch, a light, and more importantly, SMALL beer. In glasses of 0,2L (or "a mouthful" to you and me), I won't be sure whether to sip these drinks or line them up. Perhaps the slogan they can use on these hot summer days is "little and often".
Of course I'm not so much of a nationalist that I don't want to see others do well. I hope to see Thomas 'Der Hammer' Hitzlsperger bostin' his way through the early rounds, just as long as he ultimately fails. Nothing personal mind, it's just theres nothing more potent than the mix of Germans and optimism. We all know where that ends!
On the same note, it was heard that Franz Beckenbauer was going on a 'charm offensive' to appeal to the calm nature of some of England's more unruly fans. I'd like to point out that using words such as 'Charm OFFENSIVE!' won't help matters. In truth, I can't see there being any English hooliganism. After all, that'd mean some of the World Cup tickets for England games actually reaching these shores.
To weave a more domestic web on the eve of the Prince's Trust 25th anniversary, I'd like to point a finger at Prince William. As heir to the throne, perhaps sooner should Charles decide to not bother with the whole King thing, I suggest Prince William use his royal influence to perform a State takeover of Aston Villa. Like many Spanish teams (e.g. Real Madrid), I feel Villa would benefit from the head of an aging dynasty and who stick around when no-one really wants them. It's what we're all used to anyway. We could even change our name to Real Villa, or Royal House to do an elementary translation.
Having a King bankroll our European successes would be fantastic, although I wouldn't suggest William extend his hospitality to his Grandad or brother for those continental away legs.
As a Norwegian ref might do in a Champions League final, I'll leave you with a rubbish and unnecessary send-off in the form of a couple of links to some videos with a World Cuppish-hue.
BBC World Cup video archive:
ITV World Cup video archive:
England Pride video:
Beckham vs Greece (2002 WCQ Old Trafford – should have volume up for best effect):
Ireland at Italia '90 – Packie Bonner's save and DOL's penalty (long download):