England would be playing Euro
2012 during our tournament and penalty shoot-outs were bound to be
decisive. A few practice penalties at Tilsley Park couldn't
do any harm. That was until Tom strained his thigh and was very doubtful
for the matches. Now JET were down to 10 players with a record breaking
age range of 19 to 60. Excessive beer and the broiling sun would surely
take its toll.
The trip was planned to
perfection. Nico was our local tour representative who found and booked
the Hotel d'Orsay without any help from the organisers. Ideally located
close to the football stadium and the Metro into Paris.
Nico would take the EuroStar
from London at 5 am and arrive at the hotel early. The trains at more
reasonable times were far too expensive so the rest decided to take three
cars. Andy, Geoff and James in Alan's car going through the tunnel. Bob,
Chris, Geraint and Tom in Dave's mother-in-law's car also through the
tunnel but only Dave was allowed to drive. Richard with his wife and
mother via a ferry followed by a few days in France after the tournament.
Everyone would rendezvous with an hour to spare for the coach to the
Polytechnique, opening ceremony, food and beer.
Everyone met up at Motorway
services by chance and had time to consult the fixtures.
The rest was not plain sailing. We were greeted by
long tail backs before reaching the EuroTunnel entrance. There was a three
hour delay due to immigrants on the line. Richard's ferry was also delayed
by an hour. The quick zip along empty toll roads from Calais was then
followed by tremendous jams in Paris. Nico "Billy no - mates"
therefore went to the opening ceremony alone to get the tournament
Despite the various departure times, the three cars
arrived at the hotel simultaneously. The receptionist was not exactly
pleased and after the final registration exclaimed that there was no more
room. Geoff, James and Andy could endure the hunger no longer and marched
all the way into Orsay and then back again to the Thai restaurant that
they originally past. The rest watched England beat Sweden (Andy Carroll's
leap estimated at 8 foot 5 inch and 64 mph)
and emptied the vending machine
of Heineken cans. Thus ended the soberest first night
on JET tour.
JET arrived early at the
stadium with uncharacteristic clear heads. The stadium was a marvellous
venue although the toilets lacked doors and
What would be the team tactics
with just 10 players?
Nico resolved the crisis by
borrowing Xavier from the local Saclay team.
The first game of the campaign
was against Markus's Karlsruhe.
Unfortunately the grass on the
B pitch was long and wet. Perfect for Chris Hoy to aquaplane his knee into
Geoff the goalie's shin during the first half. The ensuing injury can be
viewed as a gory timeline. Dr Bob
administered the magical ligament stretch to help walk off the
The football result was 3-3
with Markus's son scoring twice and James thrice (aged 19, 100 metre
runner and Geoff's son). At last JET had a prolific striker compared to
some tours where just one goal was scored.
Next game was against CEA Grenoble in the main
stadium which proved to be a tough challenge. The match ended 1-1 with
James scoring again. We would meet the bald player again.
Group A was now finely poised. The top two teams
would progress into the semi-finals and possible glory. The fight for 5th
to 8th places was the prize for the bottom two. Harwell therefore had to
win the third game by 5 clear goals. FS Dresden - Rossendorf had already
shipped 10 goals but would be no push over.
Lunch provided a welcome break from the tension and
a chance to wake up some sleepy frogs.
Some familiar faces were spied in the stadium:
Markus with the man who's ample shirt allowed Ian Behling and Bob to spoon at Ispra 2007;
the manic Caderache goalkeeper; Andy Carroll; David
Jason as Blanco from Porridge
and Danny from BelgoProcess. The host of the 2013
football tournament promised football, a tropical swimming pool and accommodation for the same price. The cost of the
Saclay Atomiade was a sore point with everyone.
The two final matches of the Group were now
played simultaneously. Some frantic permutations of the league situation
lead to Tom's winning strategy. Score 5 goals.
Sadly there are no photos of this decisive game
where everyone played their part. James scored twice. Dave, Rich and
Xavier slotted a goal a peice providing the required 5 goal lead. Even the
crippled Geoff saved a penalty with a casual outstretched hand.
Alan's knees eventually buckled, he hobbled off and we triumphed
with just 10 men. Harwell were now in the
Having being deprived of alcohol and wholesome
food, the team headed for Paris on a local train. There was just time for
a quick glance at Notre Dame and the Seine before marching onwards to
a Parisian restaurant with overpriced beers and haute cuisine.
There was no time for
sightseeing - even the Eiffel
Tower could not be seen from street level - so Harwell moved on to
an Irish pub to watch football. Drinking Mojito and Sex on the Beach
cocktails was very likely to lead to some silliness.
Like shoving a little finger through a beer
Hopping over the Metro barriers
just because they would not accept our tickets.
Showing utter disbelief that Geraint passed the
Commando's medical only to fail when asked if willing to shoot
The escalator running
competition which defeated the foolhardy.
Flushed with the inspirational
success on the football pitch, Tom, JET treasurer and kitty holder offered
50 euros for the first complete circuit. James dashed off closely followed
by Andy. Andy stumbled and James romped home to claim his
Semi-Final. JET had never won
a semi-final on tour. This now seemed impossible with just 10 players and
Alan side-lined. Markus's son was offered a chance of glory but
to guard the goals for the minor places. Once again Nico negotiated
with the Saclay hosts and enlisted Eric.
Harwell bolstered by the two Saclay exiles went on
to beat the Saclay hosts 2-1. Dave scored from a spot kick and then from a
long looping free kick. Xavier mastered the aerial
battle, Bob thundered through tackles and James sped past floundering
defenders. Geoff conceded a goal. Xavier and Eric were now the
envy of their Saclay team mates.
After the efforts in the semi-final, Harwell could
never muster the energy for a massed stampede at the starting
While Grenoble, the other
finalists, relaxed in the stands supping beer all
Final. Harwell was determined to
the occasion with Bob gate-crashing the traditional team
Nico was awarded a small St
George's flag to wear as an honorary Englishman during the match.
The two teams lined up in the
tunnel to enter the field of play. There followed a short delay caused by
more gate-crashers and a red distress flare.
The game commenced with some
football and soon a Grenoble player went off with a black eye. Nigel would
Harwell came under intense pressure. The slap head
(shirt sponsored by S&V Boutique) once again pushed through the
Dave had a crack at goal.
But despite Harwell's efforts, a Saclay player broke the
defensive line, dodged the keeper and slid the ball into the
Eric was replaced at half time
by a planned substitution.
Stephan, our third Saclay recruit, came on after
finishing the veteran's
Harwell fought back with Andy thumping in tackles
and James sprinting into the box. James was man-marked by Grenoble's
best player who had learnt from the first encounter.
Dave attempted a teasing free kick.
Rich engaged in some knee jousting, Dave performing
imaginary slide tackles and Geraint ... what was he doing with the
Losing 1-0 in our first final
was a bitter sweet moment.
Harwell had some value to make
up after missing the Friday night bash. A coach took us to the
Polytechnique high up on the plateau above Saclay.
Just as well we did not attempt to walk on Friday night. Arrived at the
entrance and milled around on a huge concrete assembly area with nowhere
to sit or shade from the sun. Now what do we do? Wait for the group
The only entertainment was a
England v France game of boules played with water filled balloons
generously supplied by the Atomiade organisers.
Bob exhibited text book
symptoms of alcohol
deprivation - wall climbing.
Followed by liberating the
Saclay Atomiade flag.
Eventually canaps were delivered by waitresses and punch was
from a matching set of fish tanks. These contained copious
amounts of punch.
After about an hour, we
entered a long mall searching for our table.
Clearly the organisers knew what to expect and placed the rowdy Harwell
and Grenoble footballers at the entrance way, way back from the distant
There were some bottles of wine supplied and also
borrowed from an adjacent empty table. Eventually the Red Cross
volunteers turned up and had a miserable
time surrounded by empty glasses.
Grenoble were opposite making
loads of noise and singing. They must have collected the football trophy
at some point, but the stage was miles away to be seen. There was nothing
for us except souvenir hand towels for our
efforts. Grenoble were generous in their
victory and filled our glasses with wine - their own or perhaps also
organisers were nowhere to be seen, so what should we do with the whisky?
Bob made an executive decision.
Nico did his best impression of
an English gentleman but gagged on the Scottish
considers the three drinks in one trick: white, whisky then red, then
regrets the attempt.
simply passed the shot to Andy.
demonstrated how an old pro carefully mixes his drinks.
James, naive and impressionable, was chaperoned all evening by Dave and Bob. They
were unable to prevent him first downing the white wine, red wine and
finally the whisky in one.
demonstrated his protective paternal instincts.
Grenoble allowed us to share
their glory and loft the 2012 football trophy
How the main football trophy in the glass case
ended up in the toilets after the tables were being tidied up remains
Bob greeted Gunther Herdam, the
retiring ASCERI President, draped in the blue ASCERI flag. The flag was
somehow mislaid. Last seen the flag was firmly attached to Gunther's
there was some popular music on the distant stage to entertain the
The Broughtons and Potters
needed some assistance back to the hotel. Bob carefully shepherded James back to his
James located some clean
clothes and shoes without vomit. Met up with a dazed Andy and slept all
the way back to England.