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June 28, 2006

So how do you end up watching Togo versus Switzerland anyway?

Wc_togoflag I've finally got round to putting up all my pictures from my trip to Germany on Flickr, where they join about a gazillion photographs from this year's World Cup. Which begs the question - how did we end up with tickets to watch Togo and Switzerland anyway?

In fact, with one of us travelling from London and one of us from Hania it seemed like me and my brother-in-law were keener to get to Dortmund than the Togo team themselves, who reportedly had to be persuaded to travel there by FIFA when they threatened to no-show over their ongoing pay dispute. [find link]

Well, unlike the majority of people at any of the England games (or by the looks of it the Dutch, Swedish, Italian and Spanish games as well) I got the tickets perfectly legit from FIFA. I applied for tickets when they first went on sale to the public, when all you know is that you are applying to see team G2 vs G3 in Dortmund on such-and-such date and time.

Wc_stadium My plan, which worked well before in Euro2000 and hopefully will again in Euro2008, is to do this - find a major city that is near to several of the venues but isn't actually hosting any games itself, then plan to stay there for a week, and go to a few nearby matches in the space of a few days. By staying away from the venues themselves you hopefully get cheaper accommodation that is actually available, it won't be full of beer & knife crazed fans of [insert pretty much most European countries here] and you get to see a variety of the teams taking part in a variety of places and stadiums. During Euro2000 my dad, brother-in-law and I were based in Ghent, and went to games on day trips to cities like Brussels and Liege.

The plan for the World Cup this year was to stay in Düsseldorf and go to matches in Köln, Gelsenkirchen and Dortmund. Unfortunately, I wasn't successful in the first ballot for tickets, so my World Cup 2006 trip was out of the window.

Subsequently Claire and I arranged to go travelling and move to somewhere else in Europe, and I thought no more about it until I suddenly got an email late last year from FIFA saying that in a re-draw for tickets that hadn't been initially allocated, I could have two tickets for a game in Dortmund. Well, I didn't know who would be playing, and I didn't even know where I would be living, but Claire, in further proof that I definitely married the right woman, persuaded me that wherever we were and whatever we were doing, I would be able to get to the game. Plus, by then, if I couldn't afford a weekend away at the World Cup we'd be in a sorry state indeed, and it might be the first time I'd see my best man and brother-in-law for months, so I should just go ahead and buy the tickets.

Wc_readyforko Anybody who spotted me looking a bit teary and misty eyed at my leaving do back in December last year might have thought it was the emotional wrench of leaving the BBC. Little did they know that the dismay was because the big screen in the pub showing the World Cup draw had just confirmed that G2 vs G3 in Dortmund was going to be Togo versus Switzerland.

If I had been successful in my entire initial ticket application, we would also have seen Germany versus Poland, the Czech Republic versus Ghana, and Argentina's demolition of Serbia and/or Montenegro. Pretty much got the short straw then, eh?

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