A works outing for members of Xorg Inter-Galactic t'other day, to the City of Coventry Stadium for group matches between Japan and Honduras, and Senegal and UAE.
Fearing congestion and protracted security arrangements, we set off early but in the event there were no problems and we found the whole shebang quite well organised overall. Plenty of staff were on hand. The volunteers, in magenta tabards, were very cheerful and eager to help although the contracted traffic chappies in yellow tabards were less so. The police were plentiful but kept their distance, and the contracted security staff were serious and uncompromising. The security is, of course, tiresome but I suppose we don't have much alternative given the potential for mayhem should some nutter get through.
There was a very good atmosphere in the stadium, arising from the crowd being composed of family groups as well as football fans. Plus the usual antagonistic inter-club rivalry that you get at football matches wasn't present. Japanese supporters were there in significant numbers, however, and made plenty of noise led by a couple of taiko drummers. About half a dozen Senegalese were there, and there were a few more Hondurans but I failed to identify anyone from the UAE. So the majority of the 28,692 crowd were Brits who had come to enjoy some football, and good play was cheered by whichever team performed it. General positivity abounds.
Senegal were the more entertaining team with players prepared to have a go; Japan were disciplined with only occasional flashes of skill; Honduras included a couple of clod-hoppers; and the UAE were keen with good skill on the ball but lacked oomph, losing confidence after conceding a goal. For the last 15 minutes of their match, Japan and Honduras played out a 0-0 draw that suited both teams which drew a few boos from the crowd. Otherwise, it was all decent football.
We have to deduct points from Coventry because the PA system before the match and during the interval was far too loud. Moreover, the choice of music was crap.