Peter Reilly - Rockier Road to Poland

Saturday + Sunday, 9 and 10 June

Saturday + Sunday, 9 and 10 June

I zoomed out of Berlin after spending an enjoyable, if brief, time in the German capital. The journey to Poznan whetted the excitement, as every ten minutes I was either passing, or getting passed by, Irish or Croatian camper vans. Non-stop banter.

I arrived in Poznan on Saturday evening. The atmosphere was akin to nothing I’ve ever experienced; tens of thousands of Irish, Croats and Poles singing and dancing in the old town square.

My hair and I were asked to stand in for a well known irish company to do some promotional work (I was warned not to mention their name or they will be plagued for tickets). Fifteen minutes and a good few photos later I had a free ticket for Croatia game worth €120. The hairstyle is proving its worth in pulling in these freebies. Like the Magners slogan says, there’s method in the madness!!!

A certain individual by the name of John Delaney was milling around the square, at home among the throng of supporters. The Staunton days are long forgotten. I met him and he’s promised me tickets for the Spain and Italy matches. As I always say, if you want something you have to go to the top. To top it off I was interviewed for the Six One News. Their crew was buzzing around the town square, vox-popping people and they came to me.

I never strayed into an area where trouble was brewing but I believe there was some rowdiness as a huge riot police presence was easily noticeable. Hopped on bus which was heading for the stadium about three hours before kick-off. It was jammed with Irish supoorters and even at that stage the Fields of Athenry was being belted out.

The stadium was impressive and the atmosphere was incredible. We got off to a poor start but the Irish fans sang and cheered with the gusto until after the final whistle and long into the night.

The result dampened the atmosphere somewhat and things were a little subdued as we headed for town. However, before long, the Irish fans roused themselves and the tram burst into a meddley of hilarious and ironic tunes. The party continued into the very early hours.

Monday will be spent relaxing and sight-seeing, before saddling up the caddy and marching on Gdansk (via Warsaw) for what’s now a ‘must not lose’ game against the Spanish.