This isn’t really a Sportsthoughts – the event was so much more than that. But it was one of those times when football, infuriating though it can be at times, brought people together. To unite against the terrorists, who seem to seek a world where there is no culture, no enjoyment, no togetherness, no love. It’s inexplicable to most of us, but deadly in its intent. Tonight showed that we will always rise above that.
My love goes out to the people of Paris, a city I got to know when I lived there from July 1989 ( I arrived on Bastille day, the 2ooth anniversary of the revolution) to March 1991. I was working for BP at first, but when the office moved to Brussels, I stayed in Paris, and Kath and I had a wonderful six months of leisure in one of the world’s greatest cities. After London (and potentially New York) it’s the place I’d most like to live in.
And so, when it was announced that the England v France game would be going ahead, despite the atrocities of 13 November, I knew I had to go.
The game wasn’t bad. England played well. France gave it 100%, but maybe weren’t in top form, for obvious reasons. England won 2-0, with goals from new star, Delle Alli of Spurs and the trusty Wayne Rooney. Not sure it’s a game to read too much into, but encouraging for England.
But the most important time was the national anthems and the minute’s silence, impeccably observed. Without precedent, the British national anthem (which England calls its own on these occasions) was sung first so that the Marseillaise could take centre stage. And how we all sang. Maybe a little incoherently in the middle, as the French on the screens went beyond most of our competences, but with a rousing finale. A true moment of unity. We and the French don’t always see eye to eye, but tonight we were together. Totally. Long may it last.
The walk up to the stadium tonight was magnificent. Wembley lit up for France. Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. If only those values could inform the whole world…
A few pics. (iPhone, so easily loadable – no tantrums tonight!)
The arch like never before.
The words that say it all.
Bobby Moore’s statue never looked better.
During the Marseillaise.