I’VE never been tear gassed before.
By the look on faces of two Polish children outside Stade Velodrome on Tuesday afternoon, neither had they.
In the recent history of Marseille gassings this was small fry. In the history of all gassings unregistered.
But it did exemplify the heavy-handed police tactics of the Mediterranean coast.
Walking from the Vieux Port to the stadium to see Ukraine v Poland it’s impossible not to be sold beer. By the time fans reach the Velodrome it’s little wonder they’re up for some singing on the adjacent roundabout.
Of course, the city that wants you to drink beer in large amounts also employs a small army of stony-faced policemen who want to curb any signs of over exuberance.
When Polish fans let of a firework, the Provençal trigger-happy tear gas operator was only too willing to step in. It was lucky someone was on hand to sell us a beer to get over the sting.
As it turned out, that was the most exciting aspect of the fixture. The Polish reprezentacji were set out to defend deep. Although they dominated, the Ukrainians couldn’t find the net.
It took the Democratic Republic of Young Boys winger Kuba Błaszczykowski, coming on as a substitute, to break the deadlock. And in the process save us all another tear gassing on the way out.
Boumsong table – post group stage
Full scores available from The Rub.