THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

We asked some searching questions abou Euro 2000. Roger Titford sifted through the replies and can confirm, among other things, that referees aren't like the rest of us

If the survey in WSC 162 is anything to go by, our typical reader has undergone some changes since 1998. He (or, less frequently, she) is slimmer, less inebriated, less workshy, more clued up about the internet, more ashamed about being English and less keen on Barry Davies than ever. Or perhaps you’re just getting older and crabbier.

There was a clear feeling among respondents that Euro 2000 was a more satisfying tournament than France 98. Fifty-eight per cent preferred this sum­mer’s tournament, while only 17 per cent hankered more for the last World Cup. The remainder liked or disliked both equally.

We asked a number of similar questions after each tournament. The shorter length of Euro 2000, or may­be the shorter length of England’s involvement, spared readers some of the problems you encountered in France 98, as Table 1 shows.

Drink and the concomitant weight gain appear to remain the key tournament issues for the British fan. But, as with absence from work, these factors are in decline from France 98. Perhaps the Wengerisation of our game (all this healthy living) is spilling over into fans’ behaviour. We also asked for your worst excuses for getting to watch a match. A huge number of you were insulted by the very idea of needing an excuse to watch football, but we did get a few gems (see far right).

The proportion of readers who actually went to the tournament declined from 11 per cent to eight per cent and far fewer took a chance on buying tickets from touts or blokes in the street. In fact, the internet was a more popular source of tickets than the street corner. After France 98, 44 per cent claimed they would be less likely to follow England abroad in future – a prediction borne out by the above figures. The trend seems to be getter stronger – after Euro 2000, two thirds of our readers now feel less inclined to follow England abroad.

This time around England’s performance (team and fans) was even less inspiring. Among English readers, the comparative scores between the two sur­veys are in Table 2.

In 1998, the rearguard action of the ten men in St Etienne made up for a lot of the damage left in Mar­seille, but in 2000 beating Germany did not make up for Charleroi and the other matches. Only eight per cent of readers failed to watch the England v Germany match live. One reader attended a referees’ dinner instead (on his birthday too). Sixty-eight per cent saw it on the BBC but only 14 per cent were with Des on ITV. Three per cent claimed to be in the stadium.

Portugal and Holland were the most popular of the quarter-finalists but the majority admitted that France deserved to win the competition. The countries that got your medals for performing heroically above ex­pectations were Slovenia (for courage) and Portugal (for pas­sing). Both England and Italy were also nom­inated surprisingly frequently, Italy typically because they spited Barry Davies in the semi-final against Holland.

Of the various innovations brought in for the tour­nament the only one to find majority favour was the “six seconds for the goalie to clear the ball” rule. The golden goal was less popular than in France 98, with only 36 per cent approving, and the indoor match got thumbs up from only 24 per cent. Roll on 6am kick-offs in Korea.

The worst excuse you gave in order to see a Euro 2000 match  
“Faked my cat’s illness to stay at home with it”
“It’s important!” (Sweden v Turkey)
“Went to see wife’s pregnancy scans – four times”
“One of the players in this game is about to sign for my team” (Motherwell)

The greatest lengths you went to in order to see a Euro 2000 match

“Persuaded mum she’d really like to watch football for her birthday”
“Missed ante-natal class on breastfeeding”
“Changed the opening night of a show I was directing”
“Sneaked out of holy communion into a social club to watch Romania play Portugal”

From WSC 164 October 2000. What was happening this month

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