Anoushka Probyn: Fashion Blogger and England Fan at Euro 2016
Whilst reports have been rushing in of the violence over the past few days in Marseille, I’ve been relatively sheltered from it, hunkering down in a gîte in the Luberon district of Provence. I’m staying with family in a tiny village, spending the days in between games exploring local markets and ancient forts. Being as secluded as we are, it’s easy to forget that there’s even a tournament happening.
The day of the first match in Marseille was approached with caution, thanks to the threat of Russians hooligans, local youths, and even the potential threat of terrorism. I’d chosen not to wear colours, despite looking far from the average football thug that might prove a target. Better safe than sorry! Besides at 30 degrees celsius, an airy off-shoulder blouse and denim skirt seemed more appropriate than my usual shirt, flag and jeans combo.
There was some unwarranted tear gas approaching the ground but for the most part the atmosphere was just the usual pre-game buzz with very little tension. That said, I stayed well away from the Port area where the trouble seemed to be concentrated.
Of the game itself I wasn’t expecting much. The build up to this tournament seemed more subdued this time around - there was less of the usual ‘this will be our year’ mentality. The old legends are just that, old, and the new crop of bright young things just don’t quite have that star quality yet. The first half was a pleasant surprise, the second a predictable disappointment. Much has been said of tactics and mistakes already so I’ll leave that to the pundits, but honestly I can’t see us going all the way. Wales will be tough, and by the Slovakia game we could be desperate for the points, which rarely goes well.
Though the press may focus on elements of English football hooliganism, the stories I’ve heard from fellow fans have been of unprovoked attacks by the Russians and locals on anyone and everyone. And the police aggravating the situation by using tear gas with abandon on all sets of fans, be they aggressors or victims. The police certainly aggravated us post-match, sending us in circles and being generally unhelpful. My dad even got mildly attacked by a police dog when trying to approach a line of police that were blocking the road we wanted to take.
I’ll be staying in Provence for a few more nights before heading to Lens for the Wales match, and from there to Paris for several nights until Saint Etienne. The results are slowly trickling in and the usual suspects establishing themselves as serious contenders, but it’s all still to play for!
Words Anoushka Probyn