Mary Irvine’s Blog: EUROS


Euros? Football? Would I be watching it?

A staunch R.L fan 

Of course I wouldn’t be watching it. I’m a life-long Rugby League fan. My grandfather, whom I never knew, still holds the Hull FC record for most appearances in career and that includes the break he took 1914-18, as he was required elsewhere.                               

Three Nations  

But back to the Euros. I discovered that three of the home nations had qualified for the last sixteen. Well, I had to support the home teams – I was born in England, lived and worked in Wales and now live in Scotland. I decided to watch their matches. Slowly I was pulled in. The rules were beginning to make sense. Most of all I begin to appreciate the skill of the players, control of the ball, fine spatial awareness. Not to mention the loss of several players to the acting profession. Dramatic falls were performed with much rolling about in agony, followed by a quick, almost miraculous recovery, recovery and a wink to fellow team-mates – a penalty having been awarded.  But maybe that’s me being cynical….                                   

Fighting through

It was unfortunate that England and Scotland were in the same grouping and I tried hard to be impartial. I did stand for both national anthems. In the quarter finals Wales were definitely outplayed but I had the enjoyment of standing for Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau  (Land of My Fathers). Not as rumbustious as with a full complement of Welsh fans but the team did it proud. My own personal opinion is that the Welsh is the most moving of the four anthems of the United Kingdom, especially the high harmony at the end.

That left the semi-finals.  I was feeling quite the armchair expert by now and my new knowledge decided the teams were evenly matched in the Spain v. Italy match. I always have thought penalty shoot-outs a sad way to provide a result. Italy went through to the final 4 – 2. The second semi-final was between England and Denmark.  England scored in extra time and won 2-1. Not sure the Danes deserved to lose but it’s ‘points ont board’ (rugby quote) that count so England were to meet Italy in the final. The hype for England was overwhelming – always a bad omen, methinks. And so it proved. England lost on penalties but my new -found expertise noted they had definitely ‘flagged’ after the first half and in the extra time so, perhaps, the result was fair…                         

The R.L. Challenge Cup                                                          

Far more exciting, for me, was the Rugby league Challenge Cup final to be played at Wembley the following week. It was a real ‘roses’ match between Castleford (Yorkshire) and St. Helen’s (Lancashire). I was rooting for Cas. Obviously, being a proud Yorkshire lass. St Helen’s had knocked out my team in the semi-finals . Before the match two events took place. One was the traditional singing of the hymn ‘Abide with Me’.  A very emotional moment and always respectfully observed. The second was the ‘taking of the knee’ which some players chose to do. There was no booing to be heard, just the applause of all the fans and officials present.                                                  

The final score of 26-12 did not fully reflect the game. There were moments of sheer brilliance. Sad to see Cas lose but there’s always next time…

Now it’s the Olympics. And I’m spending far too much time glued to the T.V. screen. I knew there was a reason why I never had a T.V. for so many years…

August, 2021

Mary Irvine's Blog:Connect
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This section: Mary Irvine: Writer and Philhellene

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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