King's Lynn England fan jets off to the World Cup in Russia
PUBLISHED: 13:12 14 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:22 14 June 2018
A football fan admitted he had a few reservations as he packed his bags ready to set off for the World Cup.
Journalist David Blackmore is flying out to the province of Kaliningrad, on the Baltic coast, after securing tickets for two games.
Mr Blackmore, 31, from Gaywood in King’s Lynn, will watch Croatia play Nigeria on Saturday and will also be in the stands when England take on Belgium on Thursday, June 28.
He is travelling alone but plans to meet up with friends he made supporting England at the 2010 World Cup, in South Africa.
“I had no desire to go to Russia,” he said. “I’ve never been - and don’t know many people who have - and after the trouble at Euro 2016 in France, I was further determined to give this tournament a miss.
“But such is the draw of this global celebration of football that when the draw was made, I couldn’t resist planning a trip. It was then that I noticed that England would be playing a game in Kaliningrad, which is essentially Poland - hundreds of miles away from mainland Russia.”
Mr Blackmore said he was worried by the thought he would be travelling alone for long periods of time.
“But I should add that I felt almost as nervous about going to South Africa with the horror stories I read in the build-up to the tournament,” he said.
“As soon as I landed in South Africa, it was as if the World Cup has transformed the country and there was never a moment during my time there that I felt unsafe or in any real danger. I believe the same will happen in Russia.” Father-of-two Mr Blackmore’s wife, Abby is resigned to him making the trip in pursuit of his passion for the beautiful game.
“Her main concern is that I have my phone on me so she can contact me,” he said. “The message is don’t do anything silly, be safe and come back in one piece.
“With on-going relations between England and Russia, I certainly won’t be making too much noise about being English, and will keep my head down. Whether or not I wear my England shirt for the Belgium games remains to be seen.”
Of England’s chances, he added: “We qualified at a canter but we’ve qualified easily for previous tournaments and then struggled on the big stage. We’ve got a very inexperienced squad compared to previous tournaments and that can be seen as a good and a bad thing.
“They will be fearless. I read one member of the team saying the vibe around the camp feels like mates going away to play in the World Cup. This could help them when the pressure is on, they could play freely and confidently and go far.
“Their lack of experience could see them struggle to manage games in the right way and they could come unstuck against more experienced sides who know how to close out games.
“To me, there really feels like they are going out there with no expectations. Sure, we will all be behind them but following France 2016 and Brazil 2014, I feel like there is feeling we won’t go far.”