Day 6 4th June 2002
Bit of a nothing day to be honest. Fall asleep about 5 times during the day. Go for a bit of a wander around Tokyo- it’s a bit like London in that it’s so big, if you don’t know where you’re going you just get lost and end up walking for ages.
Watch Japan V Belgium on the box. The Japanese are well up for it! Didn’t realise they liked football so much! They’re a bit strange though, when the number 9 was clean through and sliced it wide they all cheered!? If that had been England, the striker would have taken some quality abuse! Game finishes 2-2 and Inamoto- the bloke who never gets a game at Highbury- scores a neat goal.
Sleep like a log again. Woke up in the fireplace, ho ho.
Day 7 5th June 2002
Do nothing for most of the day. Start torturous 14 hour journey to Sapporo at 18:00. Train is full of English who have just got here and are looking for tickets- this is the big one I guess! Have to change twice, once at 20:00 and once at 23:00 (trains not cacks!). Sleep as much as I can, but it’s awkward and freezing on the night train. Bloke next to me has a flask, sleeping bag and inflatable pillow- wish I was that well prepared!
Day 8 6th June 2002
Get to Sapporo 06:00. Shattered after only 3 hours sleep. Try to get cab from the station to the hotel, but the driver can’t understand Western style writing. Fair enough though I suppose, it’s not as though we can understand Japanese writing!
The sun is blazing, unbearably in fact. Would be up for getting my top off, but apparently it’s offensive in Japan- something the English observe impeccably to our credit.
‘Hotel Asakura’ is very basic and a Japanese style ‘futon on the floor’ job. Still, it’s somewhere to kip, which is all that matters. Go for a nice pizza, which beats McDonald’s and some of the Japanese rubbish I’ve been existing on so far!
Watch Uruguay V France- 0-0- looks like ‘les bleues’ are struggling. Go out on the lash! Boogie bar’s fun- lots of guitar music and the owner, Akuura, is a good laugh. Bar shuts at 3am so stagger off to a few more bars. Talk to some Coventry and Forest fans and yet more Pompey. Get home at 7am after being found staggering around outside the hotel!
Day 9 7th June 2002
Wake up at 13:00. Hangover from hell- headache, sweats, chunder- the whole lot! Intend to meet the others at Odori Park, the FIFA fans park, at 2pm after pulling myself together.
Wake up at 3.30pm! One of the biggest games I’ll ever go to and I spend half the day in bed!
Get down to the park, there are literally thousands upon thousands of English! There are also thousands and thousands more Japanese there in English gear- all the proper Umbro stuff too! I have to look twice as I see Japanese people singing Great Escape and God Save the Queen word perfect!
The media that are there have to be seen to be believed. Hundreds and hundreds of TV crews and photographers everywhere! The Japanese are going absolutely crazy for the English, we end up posing for about 200 pictures! All the girls that walk past want their pictures taken with us and our AFCB flag. They even want our autographs, help with English words, and to kick a football around with us- the whole lot. It’s unbelievable how we can be treated like celebrities just because we’re English. Fair play to them- I don’t think we’ll ever have a welcome anywhere like this again. The atmosphere really is brilliant, everyone is friends, even if the Japanese can only say 5 words: 1/David, 2/ Beckham, 3/ Michael, 4/ Owen, and of course 5/ EngRand. Beer’s flowing nicely again, hangover old news now.
Eight stops on the tube to Fakahori. Sapporo Dome is unbelievable! Very weird, but modern and revolutionary I guess. Looks like something off of Star Trek. Shame the capacity couldn’t have been bigger, though, for what is undoubtedly the most attractive group game.
The game itself is like a dream- Argentina 0 England 1! How good are we?! Have a well posh £100+ ticket on the half way line, but means loads of corporate nobs sat around asking us to sit. Saw Baddiel and Fat Boy Slim sat nearby too.
Predictably mental celebrations ensue- don’t hit the sack until 8am this time! WHAT A DAY!
To summarise, everyone had a blinder, particularly the Ginger Wizard, who was much better today. MOTM Rio though, an absolutely flawless performance, the easiest 10/10 I’ve ever given.
Tell everyone you know
All the English are in Sapporo
Cause we drink thousands of beers
We had the Argies in tears
Cause all the English are in Sapporo!
Check back soon for the next installment of Vinny Goodfield's World Cup Diary.