There is nothing that matches the drama of live sport.And the FIFA World Cup is head and shoulders the greatest show on earth because it unites a global audience like no other event on the planet.
This time England’s heroic efforts superbly orchestrated by Gareth Southgate added an extra level of interest, pride and excitement.
But it is still embarrassing to be English because there are so many morons in this country who have no respect, no manners and no class.
Some England fans are just as undignified in victory as they are in defeat. pic.twitter.com/74n98gGIBC
— Darren Griffiths #FBPE (@dhwg3010) July 8, 2018
Watching the England-Croatia semi final in the Old Brewery in Marlow you could say there was a good atmosphere before the match, with a rousing rendition of God Save The Queen. On the flip side the blind hatred aimed at the Croatians and the foul abuse of their national anthem was the first sign of this crowd’s true identity. This partisan crowd is not unique.
Celebrating England’s brilliant early goal was of course the highlight. The simultaneous scenes of celebration all around the country will be one of the lasting images of this World Cup for the English. But some of us are embrrassingly bad losers. Here in Marlow, when the match eventually turned full circle, one ‘yobbo’ hurled his pint at the giant screen and the final minutes of the match were viewed through a beer stained screen with zero response from security who seemed oblivious to this immature and intoxicated tantrum.
England fans in Hyde Park waste about $10,000 in beer on team’s first goal against Croatia pic.twitter.com/lfCxGZfqNW
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 11, 2018
In fact safety was a concern long before that with an earlier flashpoint that momentarily threatened to turn into a mass bar room brawl. For those of us standing near the front it was fair game to be showered by the beer that flew through the air when England took the lead. I was soaked to the skin from head to toe. Not a problem.
Keeping on my feet on the slippery surface was a slight concern as bodies bounced around for more than 30 seconds. But that was a doddle compared to what happened later when one enormous heavyweight pushing his way into the row of seats in front of where I was standing took exception to a few droplets of beer spilling his way just before the start of extra time.
At just 10 stone and on my feet for more than 2 hours by this point I was sent sprawling back through a sea of young fans by this violent punter, who was easily double my size, when he lashed out with his fist and a foul mouthed tirade of abuse.
The guys and girls around me were probably just as shocked as I was. For a brief, worrying moment as I steadied myself and stood my ground telling my assailant to calm down there was serious risk of all hell breaking lose.
What looked like the giant’s clone grabbed what was now an empty plastic pint pot in my hand and he ripped it away from me. The two of them were now spitting venom urged on by an elderly guy old enough to be their father, and quite possibly he was. As this menacing individual who looked half my age and dwarfed me in size stood up and threatened violence, the crowd around me prepared for an attack. A more hot-headed, less mature individual than myself could easily have taken the bait and there was absolutely no protection from any security.
Fortunately the match was kicking off again and the flashpoint was avoided as my assailant reluctantly sat down while continuing to hurl more threats and insults my way, and I gingerly backed away a few steps into the heart of the group standing around me.
To experience this frightening lack of order and uncontrolled mob rule in up market Marlow was surprising to say the least. As a football follower for more than 50 years, however, I was not surprised by the threat, only by the location.
A rousing rendition of 'God Save Our Queen' was impressive before the match. But it was embarrassing to hear the same mob disrespect the Croatian national anthem. And some of these guys lost their heads when England lost control of the match.
Posted by Visionsport TV on Thursday, 12 July 2018
Outside the pub I knew there were police present and they had been on guard well before the match started. The Law were on duty to keep the peace after the previous trouble and wanton damage caused in the High Street that followed England’s quarter final win against Sweden the previous Saturday. However, inside the pub there was no police presence and absolutely no security, which is surely in contravention of health and safety regulations in such a volatile and overcrowded atmosphere.
As a filmmaker I’m regularly required to complete risk assessments and take preventative measures to avoid accidents or injury in the workplace. Whoever is responsible for health and safety at the Old Brewery – recently acquired by the Stonegate Pub Company – has certainly failed to do their job. They should be held accountable.
I will be interested to hear what action is taken after my complaints to both the police and local authorities.
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