By Russ Cowper
Being in hospital for the opening game of England’s Euro campaign made for a strange experience. There were no flags, no shirts, no vuvulezas and, apart from me, absolutely no interest. Instead of a packed and passionate pub my company for the game were 14 patients on the ward – 7 men and 7 women – 4 nurses, a domestic and the ward clerk.
It doesn’t help that the game was on hospital pay per view. This is a money making scam where a private company charges you around £5 a day to watch normal telly, but you get a phone by your bed. There was only me willing to spend the fiver.
I tried not to initially – I checked out the dayroom which has a communal television. Unfortunately the seating is like the main stand at Wimbledon’s old Plough Lane stadium and the channel was stuck on BBC2, ideal for Michealawatch later that night.
The day itself was quiet; it seems the nurses who like football had swopped shifts and those who remained I already knew hated the beautiful game. So there I was in a single room, not allowed a banner because of infection control, no beer as it’s an eviction offence and no friends as per usual.
Still I settled into position to watch the match – hospital beds are amazing for watching TV; raised at the back, feet slightly up and the screen on one of those arms pulled into place.
I thought we did well and started brightly. When Joleon top of the league scored the ward broke out into silence and I emitted the sort of open mouthed scream you have in a dream when nobody can hear you. Then the equaliser came and it felt odd to not hear any moaning; well apart from the old lady next door shouting to a nurse for a bottle to pee in.
So to half time and with perfect timing tea arrived as the whistle blew. People knock NHS food, but Salford Royal is excellent, so I enjoyed leek and potato soup, pasta bolognaise and chocolate sponge pudding and custard whilst the second half kicked off.
Just as I finished one of the nurses informed me I had a visitor. Now visitors are the bane of an inpatient’s life when the footy is on and lo and behold he is Scottish with no interest in England. Game over I went for a smoke and a chat.
It was a good point though I reckon.
For each England game at the Euros the Cutter is looking for a review of the game with a difference. Instead of analysing the action – because everyone saw it and everyone knows what happened – we’d like to hear how the match was for you if you viewed it somewhere besides a pub or living room. If you’re planning on seeing England v Sweden somewhere off the beaten track please check the ‘About The Cutter’ section for contact details and get in touch.