15 things that Irish football fans remember fondly about Poland and Euro 2012
Since we're not at the World Cup, these happier times might help.
Christian Eriksen and Denmark may have crushed Ireland's World Cup dreams and while we're licking our wounds this summer, we felt that a little nostalgic look at Euro 2012 was in order.
Granted, the results on the pitch were absolutely shite but every football fan needs to escape sometimes and the Polish people were the perfect hosts for those few weeks.
Like many Irish fans, I was fortunate enough to head over to Poland to see the games and with the green army staying home this the summer, now seems like the perfect opportunity to relive some some cracking memories from Poznan, Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot and more.
Feel free to send on your own highlights and here's hoping that this sort of craic is replicated in the next European Championships. C.O.Y.B.I.G!
1) These were lifesavers
Zapa-kaka, Zappy-kinka or Zipzap-tiki-taka? Whatever way you pronounced them there's no denying that they were breakfast, lunch and dinner.
2) The different stages of Poznan town square
A) Beautiful as it is.
B) Wedged with Irish people.
C) The clean up.
3) Lets get the obvious out of the way
We were all there for the football but these beers definitely helped, especially when we frequently had to drown our sorrows after the three defeats.
4) The best sing-alongs
One of many.
Having to explain the cult-hero status of Gary Breen to the football loving people of Poland is one of the simpler pleasures in life.
Clip via - David Thompson
5) That famous Saturday
Shoes came off, bars ran out of drink and the police arrived but it was all good craic.
I vividly remember those shops/off-licences having to restock their shelves, not by using a traditional lorry or forklift, but by chucking six-packs from the back of their cars into the store in a desperate attempt to keep up with the demand.
We almost drank the place dry.
Clip via - Poland Ireland
Here's a snap of me with those friendly lads in riot gear.
This is still the best picture from that night.
6) The flags
Everyone knows the Angela Merkel one but only anyone who was actually at the Euros will remember some of these other funny tricolours.
7) The fanzone that was a bit shit
Be honest, we all wandered in and realised that it's crap. Having to buy an watered-down and overpriced pint of Carlsberg via credit card is a pain in the arse also.
Anyway, I fondly remember getting separated from my friends, meeting a bunch of random Polish people and drinking with them in a vodka bar until 3 am.
Between us, we probably only had about 5 coherent words of English at the end of the night. It was great and I've heard so many stories like that from Irish fans.
8) The tram to the match against Croatia
The sheer buzz, excitement and sense of craic on the way to the opening match was something that I might not experience again. This is why it's so important to qualify for Euro 2020, nothing beats watching your country on the road.
The electricity in the air was tangible and that tram was absolutely rocking on its tracks.
Take a look.
Clip via - Briscoe Sundara
9) Sean St Ledger's goal
In a way this goal perfectly summed up Ireland's Euro 2012 campaign because it was ugly, stuttered and never really got going.
I clearly remember turning to my brother and saying, "Is it in? Did he give it? wha..look...wha...YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
Under Trap we were never the most attacking or aesthetically pleasing side in the world, understatement of the year there, but the early goals from Croatia, either side of the break, absolutely killed our chances to build up some momentum in the game.
On the pitch, this would be a rare highlight .
Clip via - showboat22
10) Becoming a Polish fan for the night
Every Irish supporter adopted Poland as their second country whenever the hosts were playing during Euro 2012.
There really is nothing quite like being swept up in the patriotism, fun and buzz that comes along with being in the host country of a football tournament.
We all bought this scarf and wore it with pride.
11) The quickest train ride ever
It didn't matter how you got to Sopot once you got there.
I frequently heard stories about lads that hitchhiked, rented cars and crammed about 20 people into their campervans, all in an effort to get to Mecca aka a lovely Polish seaside town.
The drink definitely helped the journey go faster and if you managed to get your hands on a copy of any Irish newspaper then it was passed around more times than a Leaving Cert answer sheet.
This flag perfectly summed up the attitude that prevailed.
12) Gdansk town square before the Spain match
Spanish fans were right not to travel in their droves to the group stages, they probably had their hard earned money earmarked for the knock-out rounds, meaning Gdansk felt like the 33rd county for one day only.
This snap of the town square says it all.
13) The atmosphere inside the game
The hammering against Spain was one of the most bizarre matches of football that I've ever seen in the flesh. On one hand, I felt genuinely privileged to see the greatest international team of all-time playing at the height of their powers.
Xavi, Iniesta and Alonso were mesmeric to watch at times.
On the other, I was furious at how Trap set us up to play, Stephen Ward was continuously pinging long balls up to Robbie Keane and Simon Cox.
It was like watching two polar opposites that were playing on the same pitch.
Some fans adopted the attitude of 'ah sure we're out of the tournament so let's go out on the lash' but this never really washed with me. I wasn't as hardline as Roy Keane about this stirring rendition of The Fields of Athenry but I understood what he meant.
Still, it was nice to have some comfort in knowing that most fans would still support their country regardless of the score. Goosebumps.
Clip via - Gerard Fatrous
14) The best hosts
There might be a few children in this world with the lovely names of Gosia McCarthy or Maciej Maguire. Read between the lines.
Be honest, how many Irish lads returned to Poland the following summer in an effort to meet up with 'that' girl?
Fellas, it seems that you made quite an impression with all the ladies over there. Who wants to be in Poland right now?
15) So much more craic than I could ever express
We were so lucky because Poznan, Gydnia and Sopot were all beautiful places to stay, seriously you should check them out if you can, but there was so much more to Poland and Euro 2012.
For example; endless stories, plenty of craic, football every single day, amazing hosts, good company and most importantly, all of these videos below.
I will sell my soul to see Ireland reach Euro 2010 because football is life. C'est la vie!
A) Thousands of Irish people singing to a Polish police officer.
Clip via - Shane Mc Geown
This Polish bride playing hurling on her wedding day.
Clip via - Niall O'Connor
This binman having his truck invaded.
Clip va - Aaron Cullen
All great memories but here's hoping that the green army will be making even more at Euro 2020. C.O.Y.B.I.G!
ABANDONED MESSI GOES MISSING, MODRIC IS JUST MAGNIFICENT...
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