Column: Beery England bravado no match for organised Russian violence

England football fans?

By The Newsroom
Monday, 13 June, 2016, 17:39
Tempers flare in the stands between Russia and England fans during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group B match at the Stade Velodrome, Marseille. Nick Potts/PA Wire

All mouth and new holiday shorts.

Compared to the Russian ‘ultras’ and the hard men from the stews of Marseilles many England supporters are amateurs, tourists in flip-flops against booted and hooded hit-men.

Sitting in the sun boozing all day hoping our tattoos and banter will somehow win over the locals, the gobby minority plays our national stereotype to perfection.

Backed by flags of St George (insert localised lettering here), cheeky chants and wads of beer money they behave as though our forefathers’ liberating heroism of 1918 and 1945 earned succeeding generations the right to act like utter pillocks on foreign - particularly French - soil for the rest of history.

Do our politicians and their lowest common denominator Euro-election campaign that demonises immigrants and elevates we ‘different’ Brits above the Euro herd have any effect on this national tendency? Your call.

Of course not all fans are like this. Most are well-behaved - some easily-led - though we still have our own thugs, they just got different clothes and kept a lower profile.

But they aren’t the ones on the news being ambushed by the Franco-Russian axis. They know better.

They understand that if you’re going to take on militarily-trained former Russian army conscripts and disaffected locals of largely middle-eastern extraction then you’d better be ready and organised, not drunk in your swimming trunks trying to ‘impress’ passing girls with your song about ISIS.

Meanwhile there’s a tournament going on apparently. England played well and didn’t win a game they needed to win. So now we have to win the next one. A familiar story so far.

Looking at the better teams like Germany it’s easy to see they are different. Their decision-making on the ball, as with all the top sides, makes their football look smooth and easy. Well-balanced players who know what to do and when to do it always stand out a mile.

Because their game has proved to be so successful they don’t have to follow the latest tactical ’fads’ in an effort to progress. They just do the right thing.

This young England team is improving in that aspect and whether or not they learn their lessons in time for this tournament there is more to come from them. Unfortunately there will probably be more to come from our now wounded and probably reinforced fans as well.