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World Cup France 1998
England 2 - 0 Tunisia     Marseille 15.06.1998

On Location

On the morning of the 9th June 1998, six days before England's France 98 debut, the postman rings on Phespirit's door. His long awaited delivery at last brings the World Cup and airline tickets which will take Phespirit and a hopelessly fanatical Heather Ellis on a one-day 1200+ mile round-trip to see a tidy England victory.

Cometh the day, a two hour delay to the flight out of Stansted, plus further delays on the coach to the Stade Velodrome, means that a mad dash into the stadium is required for the 2:30pm start. After much trouble finding the specified entrance to the ground, Phespirit and Heather eventually slump into their seats just as everyone else stands up for a minute's silence before kick off. So they struggle to their feet once more and wait breathlessly for the referee's whistle which will be the cue for the crowd to roar and for England to take total control of ninety minute's football.

During the game, magnificent goals from Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes crown a fine team performance, with individual plaudits due in particular to Scholes and Sol Campbell. Inside the Stade Velodrome the sun is burning and the atmosphere boiling, but throughout the whole day Phespirit never sees so much as a heated argument either inside or outside the ground, let alone the vicious rioting reported so graphically on the news the night before. Still, the aftermath of trouble lays around for all to see - broken bottles line the street gutters, whilst the windows of every vehicle with British number plates have been bricked. Phespirit's resurgence of nationalism is confined to pride in his team on this day.

A curfew on coaches into and out of the city means that Phespirit and Heather have to be back at the airport by seven o'clock. Their transport has parked mid-way along the Avenue Du Prado, a long straight road leading directly from the stadium to the Prado Beach, scene of the fiercest battles. Driving away they are taken via the beach itself, although by this time the rioting mobs and police tear-gas have long since dispersed.

All conventional security at the airport has been forsaken in favour of direct segregation of England and Tunisian supporters by a cordon of heavily armed special police. When Phespirit's bag of World Cup merchandise is x-rayed prior to departure, the bored customs official notices a vague smudge on his monitor and accuses Phespirit of carrying a knife. Phespirit swiftly disabuses him of this notion; the smudge is shown to be nothing more lethal than a souvenir 'jeu de 54 cartes'. An easy mishtake to make?

And so a spectacular day peters out with a five hour wait in a Marseille departure lounge, the match having long since been done and won - Phespirit and Heather were there.