Thursday was Euro 2016 eve of course and given that I was going over to France for the Russia and Wales games, excitement was building in Chez Punt as I sat on the khasi reading a Racing Post and deliberating on who to steam into in the outright betting.
France made plenty of appeal at 100/30 given the fact they had won the last two major tournaments they had hosted but I had reservations about them defensively. I actually also briefly thought about backing England at 9/1. The youngest squad in the tournament have some real world beaters in their ranks but I’m not sure Roy Hodgson is ruthless enough as a manager.
Talking of ruthless, maybe old Roy and the Football Association should take a leaf out of Iran’s book. A professional footballer there was suspended from all domestic competition recently. His crime? Wearing a pair of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants trousers which were deemed completely inappropriate. A six-month ban for wearing a pair of dodgy strides? You couldn’t make it up! Indeed it begs the question – what would the Iranian morality committee make of Andy Carroll’s ponytail?
My reasons for going to Euro 2016 were two-fold. Yes I’d be there supporting England, but having also had a bet on Britain to leave the European Union at 3/1 several weeks ago my plan was to behave so outrageously in France that Britain would be left with no choice but to leave the EU.
I arrived in Marseille on Saturday morning, and it was absolutely mental from the word go. Most of the fans were well-behaved, mingling freely and singing together. However a handful of idiots (English, Russian and locals) seemed intent on having a ruck. I’ve been in some tight spots over the years but even I was shocked at how bad the disorder was.
There was one moment of comedy amid the mayhem however. We were sat in a cafe bar that was heaving and a young French waiter came over to take the order of a group who were on the table next to us. A young Irish lad was studying the menu intently before asking the barman. “You have frogs legs?” The barman, assuming the kid was hungry, answered “yes”. Quick as a flash the lad then deadpanned, “Well hop over there mate and get me five more pints of Stella please.”
The party moved back up to Paris on Tuesday. It had been an expensive old few days in France already but it was about to get more costly thanks to Royal Ascot and Austria.
At 8/11 the Austrians were my nap of the group matches to beat Hungary. I steamed in to the tune of £400 but could only watch helplessly as they crumbled to a 2-0 loss in Bordeaux. I’d already lost a wedge on The Gurkha in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Ascot and late chase on Portugal at 1/2 to beat Iceland also ended in failure as they were held to a 1-1 draw. Ironically I incurred almost all of the losses during ‘Happy Hour’ in a Parisian Irish bar called O’Sullivans. Zut alors! If that was happy I wouldn’t like to see sad.
Cheeky’s Punt of the Week: Croatia to beat Czech Republic at 5/6 (Paddy Power)