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'Yarmouth Yellows', Norwich City football fans at their Warsaw hotel following the postponement of England's World Cup match. L-r Dominic Rich, James Hunt, Ray 'The General' Clarke, Andy Clark, Geoff Maddison, Kelvyn Griffin, Stephen Smith, Bob Brewster, Martin Manning, Neil Bowman, Dale Harrison, Glen Smith, Andy Gooda, Keith Saunders (front), Adam Smith, Stephen Tungate
By CHRIS HILL
Thursday, October 18, 2012
A group of Norwich City football fans finally succeeded in watching England play in Poland last night – but said they were “gutted” to see the bridegroom and best man travel home before the highlight of their stag party.
After torrential rain dampened the spirits of thousands of England football supporters in Poland, the hastily-rearranged fixture prompted countless phone calls home, begging to stay away for one more night.
But for at least two Norwich City fans, there was never a possibility of returning to the stadium to watch last night’s 1-1 draw.
Because after an extended stag weekend, bridegroom Andy Gooda knew better than to keep his fiancée waiting – dashing the hopes of his dutiful best man Glen Smith, who put aside his own passion for football to escort his friend back to Norfolk.
About 20 Yarmouth Yellows enjoyed a weekend in Krakow before heading to Warsaw for the World Cup qualifier, which was postponed on Tuesday due to a waterlogged pitch.
Although eight of them were able to re-book flights and hotels in order to watch the rescheduled match, most had to fly home dejected yesterday, just as the match was kicking off.
They included fanatical Three Lions supporter Mr Smith, who said he had no choice but to discharge his duties to accompany bridegroom Mr Gooda home to continue his wedding plans with fiancée Amy Hunt, whom he will marry on November 24.
Mr Smith, who runs the Great Yarmouth Physical Therapy clinic on Salisbury Road, said: “I asked him last night whether we were going to be able to change these flights around, but he said he needed to get home so I had no option, really.
“It is disappointing, but I am the best man and my job is to keep him in one piece. The irony is the match is happening while we’re on the aeroplane, so we won’t even be able to watch it in the bar.
“Of course I will mention this in my best man’s speech – how he’s done me out of a game. I will get my own back on him, don’t worry about that!”
Mr Gooda, a 47-year-old driving instructor, who runs Andy’s Driving Tuition in Palgrave Road in Great Yarmouth, said: “We have only got a few weeks to go now until the wedding, so I think Amy will be glad to get me back.
“We have had two really good days in Krakow but it has turned into a bit of a disaster. It is very disappointing, but what can you do?
“Amy did say that if I wanted to stay, I could – but I think deep down she wants to get me back alive.
“We have got a suit-fitting on Sunday so I really need to get back for these sorts of things. I don’t want to push my luck too far.”
Neil Bowman, from Caister, a newspaper sales manager for Archant, which produces the EDP also had to return to Norfolk for work commitments – missing out on what would have been his first international away match.
He said: “It is obviously very disappointing. It was a personal drama for me, because it was raining so hard and my ticket was like papier-mâché.
“The Polish woman on the gate couldn’t see the barcode or the seat number and so I got sent off to another gate.
“I was going through this for two hours in the pouring rain, only to eventually get in and find there was a chance the match was going to be cancelled.”
One of the group who did finally managed to watch the game was Ray Clarke, known to fellow Yarmouth Yellows as The General due to his organisational skills on away trips.
After the final whistle, he said: “Interesting day... after getting up in the morning to try and find a hotel for us who were staying we decided instead to retire to the bar to say goodbye to the lads going home.
“I can report Goodsy the stag and Glen the best man and the other six got home to Great Yarmouth safely. The game, well it was OK – a point away from home is better than losing, although thought we rode our luck at times.
“Now it’s a day of a few more beers and at tea-time we fly home to see our families, sleep on our own beds and plan the next trip which, for some of us, is a friendly against Sweden next month. So The General has a few weeks rest before he has to start worrying about planes, trains, automobiles and hotels again.”
Following the cancellation of the original fixture, the Football Association said it was looking into the possibility of compensation for those England fans unable to stay in Poland to see the rearranged match.