Alone with 30, 000 English fans in London’s Hyde Park. Actually, make that 30,000 plus one. I was the plus one.
England lost. You all know that by now. It was the dream start. The atmosphere was absolutely electric, well, until it wasn’t electric anymore.
30,000 lucky fans were chosen from 500,000 fans who completed the online entry. Yes, half a million fans wanted to be there, so you can imagine the vibe. The pregame was massive…food from around the globe, drinks (a lot of beer but suprisingly a lot of water to combat the heat). The highlight was a live concert with The Lightning Seeds, who originally produced the “Football’s Coming Home” song which has become the English World Cup anthem over the past few weeks.
The venue was worthy destination for those of us fortunate to experience the World Cup semifinal in one of the largest and best known inner-city parks worldwide. Hyde Park, one of the Royal Parks situated in central London, had seven massive screens so everyone had a direct line to the action. The sound system was rocking, as it is the venue which hosts concerts during the Summertime in London events. Eric Clapton sold out Sunday and Bruno Mars has a sold out show on Saturday. This was the place to be and I would assume anyone watching anywhere else would have preferred to be there.
I was there…
Hyde Park London
Hyde Park concert setup
Hyde Park London
It felt like I was in dream. I had travelled across the world on 12 hours notice, not knowing but hoping I would be able to experience something worthy of my travels. I arrived early and to my dismay wasn’t able to convince them that a blog for The Press Democrat was worthy of a coveted media spot. I felt better knowing that the leading tv crew from Danish Sports TV, fresh off three weeks in Russia covering the World Cup, were also turned away. I’m not sure how they selected the media for the event, but for every journalist that was issued a credential, at least four walked away wondering how to get access.
Danish Sports TV crew, fresh off three weeks in Russia
The Danish crew settled on setting up for interviews in the entrance area and then finding a pub close by to watch the game. I was less inclined to accept a quick defeat and let’s just say that after a series of events, the Hyde Park attendance grew by one. No laws were broken, but I was in text dialog with my brothers Marcus, Andrew and Benjamin, who were all ready to vouch for me if the call came.
I was in and at that moment, Football was definitely COMING HOME! I even purchased an overpriced tshirt and an England flag (which came with arm holes) to commemorate the day.
When time allows, I will share more experiences with you, but I’m heading out to see London before flying home early tomorrow morning.
I am disappointed for England, because I witnessed first hand the joy and passion the World Cup has been bringing these fans, the city of London and England.
Having said that, in my humble opinion, even caught up in the glow of the English fans, Croatia deserved to win and it promises to be an exciting final between two great teams.
Below are a few photos from the event and I hope to be able to share some videos at some point as well.
I look forward to watching the 3rd place game and World Cup Championship with family and friends.