England fans travel to Germany to watch defeat

Matthew SparkesBrits in homes and pubs all over the Norwich hung their heads in disappointment together yesterday, but spare a thought for four England fans from Norfolk - they went to Germany to watch the match.Matthew Sparkes

Brits in homes and pubs all over the Norwich hung their heads in disappointment together yesterday, but spare a thought for four England fans from Norfolk . . .

For they had made the 540-mile journey to Germany especially to watch the crucial knock-out game in enemy territory with long-time German friends - only to see England crash out of the World Cup.

David Read, 53, from Brundall, said that the British group was 'totally gutted' by the score.

'There was tension,' he said. 'But they're such great friends we can't hate them for more than 10 minutes.'

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The party left Norwich in the early hours of Saturday morning with three friends to drive to Osnabr�ck in North Germany via the Dover ferry.

And while fans back home in the UK could switch off their televisions and hide from the result, they had to endure patriotic celebrations after the game in victorious Germany.

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All four had driven for more than 10 hours to get there, after making a drunken promise to German friends they met in Norfolk.

Mutual friends Jo Mayes and husband David, 52, who live in Norwich city centre, and Peter Rathbone, 52, who lives near Worstead, had joined Mr Read on the journey.

Over 10 years ago they had met a group of Germans who were spending time in Norfolk working at the Lotus factory in Hethel, and ever since the group has made several visits back and forth between the two countries each year.

Mr Read, a creative designer at Archant in Norwich, said: 'That's how it started just over 10 years ago and it's just blossomed.

'We've had these German friends over 10 years and they came over at the beginning of the month for my wife's 50th birthday.

'In one of our drunken moments we said if we meet each other in the World Cup we'd go over.'

He said: 'We have to keep the British end up, we can't be sad in defeat.

'We're obviously gutted, but the Germans agree with is the goal in the first half was definitely a goal.

'If we'd been two-all at half time it would've been a different game.'

The friends did not know when they arranged the trip that they would face a marathon drive home with the weight of defeat heavy on their shoulders.

And to make matters worse the group had taken the trip in an estate car made by German firm Audi, although it had been decorated with several St George's Cross flags.

'It's going to be hell,' said Mr Read. 'We have a lot of hours of driving.'

Although England went two goals under in the first 30 minutes, Matthew Upson scored one back before half time and moments later Frank Lampard levelled - but the second shot on target was disallowed.

England fans roared at the news, but it changed nothing and Germany remained in the lead.

After that the team never seemed to recover and Germany walked to a 4-1 victory.

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