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The Loneliness Of The Short Distance Reporter. No.5 - June 16th 2016

This is the thing with hopping around France on an almost literal whistle stop tour following the beautiful game - you never get to see the beautiful sights.

As you arrive at Lyon airport to the south east of the city, they've brightened up the long walkways that take you from plane to passport control and beyond with a succession of 'fun facts' about not only Lyon, but also St Ettiene and the Rhône area in general; info on museums, points of interest and all the stuff that whets your appetite for having a jolly good snoop about the place. You're only an hour from Mont Blanc here.

But that's the problem really - I'm here for a game that kicks off at 6pm local time and required to be at the stadium some 3 or 4 hours prior to kick off. By the time 9pm rolls around you have to wait until traffic dies down before you head off yourself, and I'm acutely aware that my next internal flight tomorrow is at silly o'clock in the morning with another game to call tomorrow night, so preserving the old voice becomes paramount-sinking a few with Northern Ireland fans singing "Wull Grugg's on feur!!" will have to wait for another time. And I'm quite certain Colin Murray will be a very very bad influence if I let him ;)

Ah - Will Grigg...Can Grigg? Could Grigg? It's nice to see a fellow Solihull boy involved at these Euros, even if it's another case of a boy done good once Birmingham City had let him go as a trainee. I notice that Northern Ireland haven't scored at a major tournament for 34 years...even Gerry Armstrong must be sick of seeing Arconada palm the ball straight out to him in ' whoever nets next for the green and white army (especially if it's in a win) will be immortalised in newsreels for years to come.

My spoken French has been an utter embarrassment. Better than my spoken German would've been I guess, but poor nonetheless. It's funny with German - there's one stupid complicated sentence that's stuck with me since my 2nd year at senior school. "Wenn das wetter schön gewesen wäre, würden wir Tennis spielen"...if the weather HAD been good, we WOULD have played tennis. That's your pluperfect subjunctive there, folks. Impressed aren't you? However, that's about all that's stuck - I'd be like Basil Fawlty now ("Wir wollen ein Auto mieten" "'re volunteering to go out and get some meat?? Not necessary! Ve haf meat here in ze buildink!!!")

Still can't quite fathom how utterly crass Cristiano Ronaldo's post match comments were towards the Icelandic opponents who'd dared to take a point off his Portugal side. His assertion that they celebrated like they'd won the trophy and that that somehow demonstrated their small-minded approach meaning "they will win nothing" left me open mouthed.

Remind me what Portugal won again? And isn't Ronaldo the first to narcissistically rip his shirt off and over celebrate a 2-yard tap in for Real Madrid when they're dismantling Getafe 7-0 or something? The hypocrisy is staggering. I gather the press officer was trying to tug at his sleeve as he made these quotes in order to head his player off at the pass. Lots of luck with that, pal. Great player, but all the class and humility sadly lacking. Still I'm sure his finances are in order.

Our own Stan Collymore has been Periscoping live footage of skirmishes on the streets of Lille between rival fans from various countries including England, and some journalists on social media have become a tad snippy about his efforts to deal in pictures that give us facts we can see for ourselves rather than deal in supposition.

It's a tricky one as some media outlets are there en masse almost waiting for something to film, and hooligans being hooligans usually can't help themselves when they know they have an audience and a scarf wrapped around their face. Stan merely wants to cut through all the fluff and put the reality of the situation across live without the need for post-filming editing and reportage on top of it. Anyway, he's a darn sight braver than I'll ever be being in amongst it like that.

Let's just hope that that is the worst of the violent scenes over and done with - after all, the closeness of pretty much every match so far has made this a very intriguing tournament indeed.

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