Wednesday, 2 June 2010
No Arnie to be seen anywhere!
Sunday 30th May 2010 - England 2 Japan 1 - International friendly played at, UPC Arena Graz, Austria
This bank holiday saw my wife and I joining thousands of other England fans on a trip to Austria. The Sturm Graz ground was the venue for an international friendly match, England v Japan. Now Graz is also famous for being the hometown of Arnold Schwarzenegger, now once upon a time Graz were proud of the fact that this where the Hollywood star and now Californian Governor was born. They even named the stadium we were to visit after him, but somewhere along the line Arnie and his Austrian friends have fell out. So much so that you would find it hard to spot any mention of the ex bodybuilder anywhere in the city and the ground now has a new name - The UPC Arena.
What was great about the day was the mix of England fans, many couples, families as well as younger England fans, making it a very relaxing match day experience, maybe the team got that sense of relaxation as well, and it took them 45 minutes to wake up, even them Lampard missed a penalty and we had to rely on the Japanese scoring two own goals to get a much needed pre-World Cup win.
Another surprise was the large number of Austrians at the game who were supporting England, this along with a large contingent of Japanese made for a good atmosphere. the England team may not have impressed our new found Austrian friends but the noise the England fans made with the band and singing did impress them.
I know it was only a friendly and many England fans would be saving their holiday and money for South Africa, but the relaxed atmosphere has made me think again about returning to support my national team on their travels around the world.
Well done to all the England fans who attended the game.
Oh nearly forgot, the ground, a small tight stadium with no athletics track- bit of a squeeze to get through the outer gates but once inside, plenty of room, a good view and beer on tap plus salty pretzel's.