After a mad few days in the south of France, Paris was altogether more genteel. I was glad to get out of Marseille to be honest, where local police policy of hurling stun grenades and tear gas at drunks singing “Don’t take me home” clearly needs tweaking.
Our group met up with some Irish lads on Wednesday who kept insisting they were “mad for the craic”. Happily it transpired they weren’t after cocaine at all, just a good time. It takes a mad b*stard to know a mad b*stard and I bonded with these lads instantly.
Call it the luck of the Irish if you will but things also picked up on the gambling front. I had £35 on Ribchester, the 8/1 winner in the first at Royal Ascot and also binked 3/1 shot Lady Aurelia. But the best was yet to come. A risky £115 double consisting of both teams to score in the Switzerland v Romania match (11/8) and France to win by more than a goal (10/11) against Albania looked to be dead in the water with the French unable to make a breakthrough at Stade Velodrome as the clock hit 90 minutes. However a surreal spell followed as Les Bleus banged in two goals from nowhere to send our squad of drunk degenerate gamblers into dreamland.
The rest of the night consisted of smashing overpriced lager into us while belting out Lionel Richie classic “Oh what a feeling…when you’re watching Glenn Whelan” with our Irish brothers.
If Wednesday was sublime however Thursday was beyond ridiculous.
All our group bar three had tickets for England v Wales so with me being one of the trio without tickets we decided to go to the Fan Zone in Paris to watch the big game. You had to put cash on a card to get drinks there and a few lads in our digs who had been to the Fan Zone to watch the French the night before gave us their cards, which basically meant we had a war chest of over 250 euro to spend on booze and hot dogs. So with this in mind quite why I began drinking neat Bacardi at 10am that morning remains a mystery.
Suffice to say I was absolutely f*cking skittled by 1pm and given it had been raining I thought I would whip up the fans inside the Fan Zone by doing a series of Klinsmann-esque dives into the mud. These were particularly well-received so I then began break-dancing on the sodden turf and threw my shirt into a tree (as one does on these type of occasions). First rule of doing Klinsmann dives topless however is ‘always check for broken glass and small silver steel rods on the ground’. I didn’t, and almost severed my index finger off. Seriously my finger was in such a state you’d have thought I had been windmilling with a lawnmower.
The local first aiders were trying to get me to go to hospital but I was trying to explain in broken French that I still had 150 euro on plastic cards to drink. In the end common sense prevailed when a mate of mine called Lutzy reasoned that I would probably die in a Fan Zone drinking warm, flat Carlsberg if I didn’t shape up and get in the ambulance. He reckons I then stood up gingerly and began waving him away while bleeding profusely and shouting “I’ll have my Carlsberg. Be it in this life, or the next”.
The finger needed surgery but my blood alcohol levels were “dangerously high” so they advised me to just stay in hospital with it bandaged up so they could monitor me. I awoke at 7am on Friday morning, topless and in a world of pain. I was desperate for a drink of water but had no phone, passport or wallet on my person. I shambled around the wards looking for assistance and then, like an oasis in the desert, I saw a vending machine in the distance. I hobbled over and spied several ice cold bottles of Orangina. They were reasonably priced too (a first for Paris) at €1.40. I was overcome with excitement, reached carefully into my pocket to find all I had in there was mud and dust. I began sobbing. It was like a scene straight from The Hangover. There I was, topless and dehydrated in a Paris hospital, with an index finger in worse shape than a Pepperami fire stick.
I’m not sure how but I eventually made it back from France on Friday and the weekend was mostly spent drying out off the drink and seeking medical advice about my dodgy digit.
I was on antibiotics by now so a post-France rendez-booze with the chaps simply wasn’t an option on Monday night. I instead went to watch the England match round my cousin’s house. He’s 38 years old and f*ck me if I didn’t walk into the front room to see him wearing an England shirt, shorts and socks while chugging on a can of Tetley’s. In his front room. Age 38. It makes me laugh when adults watch their team while dressed in said team’s kit in the house. I mean, if you watched Harry Potter and were over the age of nine would you wear a f*cking cape? Ridiculous.
Anyhow I topped up on England to win the match at 5/6 so all told I was waiting on the Three Lions for over a monkey. I could just tell it was going to be one of those nights and was looking to bail after about 70 minutes of watching England dominate possession without catching a break in front of goal. In the end my cousin made my decision to leave with 10 minutes to go rather straightforward when – after aggressively sinking just his third can of Tetley’s – he attempted to get a Mexican wave going round his front room.
Cheeky’s Punt of the Week: Romelu Lukaku to be top Euro 2016 goalscorer at 15/2 (Boylesports)