Katy Sandalls: Welcome to World Cup madness
PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 June 2019
Welcome to the madness! Perhaps the best way to introduce you to this month’s column.
I truly hope you have welcomed the madness that is the World Cup as it is not going anywhere for the next month and is already producing some interesting results.
A dominant USA, a beaten Australia and a stormy Sweden are just some of the moments we have had so far and there's plenty more to come.
Our home nations have kicked-off their campaigns too. Against each other.
I was in amongst the crowd in Nice to soak up the riviera sunshine and enjoy England v Scotland. There was a great buzz about Nice with fans of both sides flooding the streets in the lead up to the game.
To say as England fans we were slightly outnumbered might be the understatement of the year. A sea of kilts and pink Scotland kits had made its way down to Nice to see a Scottish side in a world cup.
There was a true sense of passion among the fans crowding the buses on the way to the Stade de Nice. They talked of the distances they had travelled from outlying Scottish Islands to the USA and beyond. One England fan, talked of the hours she had spent travelling down through France on the train because she couldn't fly with her foot in a moonboot.
Listening to them it was their passion that endured and kept us all going through that sweaty bus ride.
It continued at the stadium where they poured in to buy the merchandise, covered themselves in face paint and draped themselves in flags. It was a glorious sight.
A sight that was slightly ebbed into by what wasn't there rather than what was.
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Despite being a "sell out" game around 2/3 of the seats were empty. Many were away from the direct shot of the cameras and perhaps not so obvious. What was perhaps clearer was that the entire top tier of seats was closed.
A rather sad sight and a slightly disappointing way for England and Scotland to start off their campaigns.
Still when kick-off came the game was an exciting one; it showcased a much stronger Scotland side than the one England played in Euro 2017.
Gone were the expectations of a 6-0 victory as had been the case two years ago. Instead this was a more evenly matched affair; and it made for a better game.
A first look at VAR for our home sides wasn't without its controversy but at half time there was a real sense of English domination. This was to change in the second half as Scotland came back to ensure England didn't leave Nice with a clean sheet.
Stand out players were definitely the scorers; Ellen White and Nikita Parris as well as very on-form Lucy Bronze who put in a high work rate across the game.
For me the main take-away from the whole experience is not to give up and stay passionate. Being surrounded by people who love something as much as you do is always an exciting experience; whether that be at a music concert or game.
That doesn't fade with time. Indeed sitting in the stands at the Allianz Riviera I could feel myself getting emotional, looking over a game at the greatest tournament in the world for a sport I love.
My hope for the fans watching back home was that our passion in the stands was being matched by you in your living rooms, all 6.1million of you who tuned in. Hopefully you enjoyed it with a few less swear words than I was shouting when Ellen White's goal was disallowed or not as you please.
On returning to Suffolk I was pleased to see this passion continue with a buzz in our office about the cup and even a wall chart put up in my absence.
If you've been inspired by the world cup and want give the sport a go yourself then do bear in mind that many of our local sides are looking for new players to try out. Twitter is perhaps the best place to look. While you are there why not also give our dedicated women's football account Glancing Header a follow, where we will be following the world cup and building up to the new domestic season back here in Suffolk.
Until next month sit back, and enjoy four weeks of outstanding football.
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