Germans on song as England gets that same story, different year feeling

 

There were hardly any natives in one bar filled with polarised World Cup fans yesterday

THE WORLD Cup feels like a party to which we have not been invited, not even when it’s beamed in to our own country.

Fitzsimons in Temple Bar in Dublin city centre was stuffed for Germany vs England yesterday afternoon, with hardly a native in sight.

The German supporters, most of them living in Ireland, took the armchair football equivalent of the early sun loungers, billeting themselves right in front of the big screen for the match.

There remain, despite all the talk of reconciliation, few places in Ireland where you can lustily sing God Gave the Queenwithout raising the ire of somebody, but it is safe to say that Temple Bar on a Sunday afternoon, with its preponderance of English stag and hen parties, is one of them.

“I thought I could get a bit patriotic here today,” said Mark Murray from Bolton, who lives in Ireland and was wearing an England shirt for the day.

“I have to take a lot of crap watching England games here. When Ireland were in the World Cup in 1994, I wore an Irish top. At the end of the day, there is English in Ireland and Irish in England. The rest should be forgotten about.”

The England fans made all the early noise, but the Germans scored after 20 minutes. It seemed to take forever for Miroslav Klose to sneak in between two England defenders and score.

In front of the television, two German supporters got up and hugged each other violently, punching the air at the same time. They turned out not to be German, but a couple of guys from Glasgow on a stag weekend.

“It’s England, what do you expect?” said John Anderson. “If they were playing hell, I’d be supporting hell.” A few English girls started to sing “I’m English until I die,” but it was only half-hearted, because a few minutes later Lukas Podolski scored a second.

Matthew Upson pulled one back for England, and then Frank Lampard scored a beautiful chip which bounced down off the crossbar and over the line, or so it seemed to a bunch of England supporters on a stag weekend – and probably the rest of the world – with the exception of the referee.

The England fans turned away from the television and embraced each other like they had won the whole shooting match. It was several moments before they turned back to the screen and saw the ball down the other end of the pitch – as delight turned to quiet resentment.

Germany scored twice more in the second half. The Scots got more animated and inebriated. The Germans started to sing Auf wiedersehen vorbei(good-bye, it’s over) and “Du kannst nach hause gehen” (You can go home now), but without the sense of triumphalism that might have prevailed if England had been leading 4-1 against the old enemy.

German au pair Mira Fricke from Cologne (“Podolski’s city”) said no particular satisfaction was derived from beating England, despite the history, on and off the pitch, between the two countries. “It is not about England, it is about patriotism, not that old story,” she said.

She took exception to anyone suggesting Deutschland über Allesis the title of the German national anthem. The offending third verse has been excised from it since the end of the Nazi era, and it is now known as Das Deutschlandlied(The Song of Germany).

For the England fans, it was the same story, different tournament. Graham Hughes said Lampard’s disallowed goal might have made for a hard-luck story, but “at the end of the day we just weren’t good enough”.

As Gary Lineker once said: “Football is a simple game, 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end the Germans win.”