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SUMMER THROWBACK – THE BATTLE OF LENS

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When England were drawn against Wales in Group B of EURO 2016 it set mouths watering across the continent and it certainly didn’t disappoint with a match that had absolutely everything – Premier League pace, electric atmosphere & pure drama.

England were at their stuttering best qualifying for EURO 2016 winning all 10 of their qualifiers whilst only conceding 3 goals in the process. What’s more is Roy Hodgson was pretty much able to pick a 3 Lions squad from a pool of players with no major injury concerns – something unheard of for an England manager heading into a major competition. What could possibly go wrong…

Meanwhile, Chris Colemans Wales were riding an unbelievable wave which had carried them all the way to France with most notably an impressive victory over Belgium in Cardiff. There was a feel good factor around the Welsh team and with truly world class talent in their side you could see they weren’t simply there to make up the numbers at EURO 2016.

Wales got their campaign off to a flyer beating a decent Slovakia side 2-1 whilst England spluttered a draw against a mediocre Russia side in Marseille which was remembered for all the wrong reasons. The stage was set… the so called noisy neighbours & underdogs were topping Group B whilst once again England were under enormous pressure to get a result before their tournament had even begun.

The build up to the match was as intriguing as the match itself with Gareth Bale & gang clearly enjoying the media circus to pile on even more pressure & misery to the opposition by questioning their passion & talent. Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence Roy Hodgson & Wayne Rooney bumbled their way through press conferences desperately trying to divert pressure off the upcoming clash.

The atmosphere in Lens was of course at fever pitch with English and Welsh football fans enjoying their day out together in the sun and passionately getting behind their respective nations. As the players walked out on the turf in Lens both teams & supporters belted out their respective anthems and the game got underway.

It certainly didn’t disappoint…

Daniel Sturridge’s last minute toe poke sent pubs & bars across England into a mass state of delirium and quite simply a cry of lager fueled relief. Once again ‘Football Was Coming Home’ over the summer.

Meanwhile, across the Severn the scenes were that of heartbreak and despair but the loss was clearly something that brought that Welsh side & supporters even closer together to create what would be a special summer.

Despite, breaking the hearts of a nation the Welsh football fans had the last laugh with an incredible run to the semi-final losing to a Cristiano Ronaldo header whilst England… well we all know how that ended.

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Stephen Cooper
Sports fanatic and frustrated Bristol Rovers fan
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