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Bob from Bishops Stortford
"We were hoping to see England"
 real 28k

Nigel from Manchester
"We were going to come anyway"
 real 28k

Sunday, 25 June, 2000, 19:39 GMT 20:39 UK banner
No party-poopers here
Danish fans
These Danes are determined not to see red
By BBC Sport Online's man in the Low Countries Pete Lansley.

There was a breezy yet laid-back atmosphere in Brussels and Bruges during the quarter-finals as many supporters from non-competing countries rolled up for games they had never dared dream of attending.

Even the pessimistic Dutch took over the Markt in Bruges on Sunday, having envisaged their team would finish second to France in the group stages and so be relocated down south.

But for the English, the Danes and the Belgians, there was consolation in still being there for the party.

A gang of Belgians from near Brussels arrived, without tickets for the France versus Spain game, for a mass game of keepie-uppie.


Dutch fans
These guys like Orange
They were not surprised Robert Waisege's team had fallen at the first hurdle and reckoned Portugal would be the tournament winners.

"Anyone as long as it's not Holland," was the consensus.

Over at the top end of the square, as the mid-morning beers flowed, the orange party was in full swing.

Ajax fan Tristan Rohner, 18, from Purmerend near Amsterdam, was among a group of salesmen from Deen supermarket who was fully sold on the prospect of France v Spain - despite the fact he would have to settle for watching Holland v Yugoslavia from the bar.

Advertising

"We won the tickets for having the best advertising figures at Deen," he explained.

"We only got the tickets two weeks ago and then we had thought the Netherlands would finish second in Group D by losing to France. We thought we would see a lovely game here in a lovely city.


Close encounters
Close encounters
"But we don't mind. This is a great game to watch. France have been my favourites to win the tournament but Portugal are the best team."

On Saturday evening in Brussels, England supporters milked the becalmed atmosphere with ambivalent feelings towards their own team's non-involvement.

Nigel from Manchester said: "We felt pretty sick on Tuesday night after we'd had it in our grasp [looking set to qualify by avoiding defeat against Romania].

Relief

"But there's also a slight sense of relief. We can walk to the ground without any bother.

"The enthusiasm back home has died off dramatically. People are asking us why we're coming out but we were always going to, irrespective of England. We were never tempted to sell our tickets on."


Football is a religion
Football is a religion
Bob Braund and Ian Hyde, from Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire, did not enjoy the Belgian police's continued heavy-handed presence - and spent the afternoon in the water park and the Atomium.

Ian said: "We're disappointed it's not England involved tonight but not surprised. I was never going to sell my ticket - I'm half Italian so this is a bit of a result for me. Takes the dilemma out of the game."

Another Italian fan was the Austrian Hans who lives in Milan and wears his Inter shirt with pride. "I bought my ticket thinking of Italy v England - this is not the show I was expecting.

Fist

"Your side [England] is great but I'm glad I didn't get a fist in my nose today."

Carmelo, born in Calabria but a West Brom fan living in Wolverhampton, sported the best-painted glasses of the tournament.

He reckoned: "I was always here to watch Italy and I intend to follow them through to the final. I never supported England anyway."


Carmelo
Making a spectacle of himself
Glen and Christopher, from Silkeborg in Denmark, were more dispassionate, especially since their team would never have played in Brussels in the last eight even if they had overcome France or Holland.

"We have stayed here for three weeks and hoped we could see Denmark in the quarter-finals. We got the tickets six months ago but we are here for the fun, for the beer and for the girls."

And have they found what they wanted? "Yes - the beer is good."

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See also:

24 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Charleroi celebrates
22 Jun 00 | The BBC Team
Franco-Dutch love fest
21 Jun 00 | Fans Guide
England gone, party on
22 Jun 00 | Fans Guide
The best and worst so far
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