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Euro 2016 reflection: An innocent time before the Russians arrived

The Punch and Judy show between English fans and French police provided comic relief

Wales against Belgium was the best match, Ireland’s goals were the best moments.

But the highlight was the couple of days I spent in Marseille before the tournament started. The sun shone, the city was beautiful, and the Punch and Judy show between English fans (“F*** off Europe!”) and French police provided some comic relief.

I remember it now as an altogether more innocent time, a day or two before the terrifying Russian hooligans arrived with their GoPros and combat training, and a couple of weeks before the English voted to tell Europe to f*** off for real.

Most of the tournament would be spent watching defensive teams shadow-boxing in muggy stadiums under brooding overcast skies.

It never quite lived up to the sun-drenched anticipation of the day before it all began, but that was always going to be difficult.