Sportsthoughts (141) – France and England at Wembley, 17 Nov 2015

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.





About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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8 Responses to Sportsthoughts (141) – France and England at Wembley, 17 Nov 2015

  1. dc says:

    Good to have you back John. We missed you during those long minutes yesterday.

    Will went to the match as well and had a great time singing both anthems surrounded by French fans.

    I’m glad it went off without incident but it seems the global game is on the target list of the terrorist nutters like never before.

  2. Dood says:

    Welcome back, John. Feels like you never went away.

    A fine reflection on a deeply moving occasion. As you know, I was in the pub with the usual Hammersmith mix (Brits, Poles, Russians) and a contingent of the local French population, and it was great to watch it together. Even on the screen it felt very emotional, and the pub really came together for the event.

    Sporting endeavour, harmony, sympathy, feeling. All good qualities in the face of the horror.

  3. Resa says:

    This is a Sports post like no other. I got quite choked up.
    Well done, John!

  4. John S says:

    Good reason this time.

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