Deputy BIAS Chairman Phil Marchant, known to many as Supes, shares his account and memories of his time in Brazil.
I love football. I like travelling. I needed to decide where to go for my 2014 summer holiday. Apparently something called the World Cup was going to be taking place in a country which was in love with football, and likes to throw a good party. So, it was an easy decision for me – I was off to Brazil for my first World Cup.
I booked my flights & accommodation very early – before England has crossed the finish line in their qualifying group, in fact. With single rooms in Rio priced at £2.5k for a fortnight, I booked a bunk in a 12-bed dorm. Nice & cosy! One of my Bees mates had told me to hold off as prices for unsold rooms come down closer to the tournament, but I just wanted it done. I should have listened, especially as I also had to book accommodation for Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte once the draw had been made. Oh well, never mind…
Following the joyous end to Brentford’s season (seems a long time ago), I could take a breather then really start to plan my Brazilian adventure.
My first day in Brazil was matchday in Sao Paolo. There was a real buzz of anticipation at the pub before the game. And once in the stadium singing God Save The Queen and seeing the players lining up for kick-off, there was a real sense of occasion. I was actually about to watch my national team at the World Cup in Brazil – come on England!
The result was, of course, highly disappointing (a familiar feeling for a Brentford supporter), though I enjoyed the celebrations when Rooney equalised. And, of course, it didn´t stop us having a damn good night out in Sao Paulo. Maybe too good judging by the state of me the next day.
Then it was off to Rio for a couple of days to enjoy the street party in Lapa and the atmosphere on Copcabana. I even managed to get briefly interviewed by a 5 Live reporter at one of the beach bars, and was pleased to hear that I made it onto air in the next day´s breakfast programme. Clearly I don´t talk as much nonsense as all my mates tell me!
Next stop was Belo Horizonte for a decent England performance which didn´t bring the win it probably merited (Sturridge had left his shooting boots at the airport). One might have expected a despondent mood amongst the England fans, but we had been in good voice during the game and were in even better voice after it. Singing and cheering until the stewards literally scrummaged us out of the stadium. After all, why should the failure of the team (who looked very sheepish as they applauded us after the game, as if they knew they didn’t deserve the fantastic support – to be honest, they didn’t deserve it) get in the way of a good time – we’d shelled out significant amounts of money to be there so we were going to enjoy ourselves! And the party continued in central Belo where we took over place and were observed by bemused locals who enjoyed our revellry but didn´t understand why we were having so much fun. I guess it takes an England fan to really understand it – we are the best at gallows humour and definitely like to ‘always look on the bright side of life’ (one of the songs being sung). Being a Bees fan also helps, of course!
England’s World Cup was officially over, but was I following the England players home? Hell, no! The beaches and mountains of Rio were calling me. Sao Paulo seemed to be just a big concrete jungle, Belo Horizonte seemed to have a bit of pleasant character to it, but Rio was just wonderful. You’ll have seen the picture postcard images, but to actually be there was just ‘different gravy’. The people of Rio – known as ‘Cariocas’ – live life from a positive viewpoint: taking a carefree attitude as they go leisurely about their business. This adds to the cool, relaxed vibe of the place. And the mixture of fans from all over the world, all bringing their colours and characteristics, just made it one big party. Everyone was just so happy to be there. The beer and caipirinha (local sugar-cane based drink) flowed, the games continued, and much fun was had. It was all a far cry from Oldham away (though that was actually a good away trip last season – again, despite the football!).
So, my lesson for England fans travelling abroad would be this. The match might be the reason for your trip, but make the match just one part of your trip and enjoy the surroundings / scenery / people. They will most likely be more enjoyable than the football…
Now I’m back home, back at work, and back to reality. At least the reality is an exciting season in The Championship to look forward to. Come on you Bees!
Phil Marchant – a.k.a. Supes
Dedicated to Allison Franklin: an example to us all (both in her life and in her sad passing) to enjoy your life, Bee positive, and make the most of your opportunities.