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A fan's view: The morning after the match before

England fans celebrate their third goal scored by Danny Welbeck, in the stands. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

'Nach dem spiel, ist vor dem Spiel' Sepp Herberger.

'After the game, is before the game'. It was printed on a poster I saw in Frankfurt during World Cup 2006. Some German friends translated. Herberger was Germany's manager when they won the World Cup for the first time in 1954, an amateur German side miraculously beating the Mighty Magyars of Puskas et al in the final. His philosophising an early version of the kind Ian Holloway treats us to nowadays.

The atmosphere in the stadium at the Sweden game amongst the England fans was passionately defiant. Vastly outnumbered by the Swedes who in a convenient quirk of the draw have all their games in Kiev. The songs, when we weren't celebrating our goals, were 'Roy Hodgson's Barmy Army', (Harry Redknapp was never the fans' favourite to the degree the media made out) and 'We do what we Want', a boisterous two fingers to those, most notably Sol Campbell, who had suggested we shouldn't travel because of the supposed dangers.

England's Danny Welbeck celebrates with Andy Carroll (right) after scoring the winning goal. Credit: Press Association

No tournament you travel to is the same. It's different on TV, the games could be taking place anywhere. But for those who follow England through a qualifying campaign, a Euro or a World Cup it's the mix of the football and the countries we visit, which is the biggest appeal. Ukraine isn't the same as Portugal '04, a holiday destination for millions of Brits and France 2016 will be a change again, a country most of us are probably more familiar with more than any other.

Its all about context. Ukraine, including the capital, simply isn't used to the numbers of visitors from Western Europe. To cope with the demand for accommodation, for example, facilities are being used that have barely been upgraded since independence in 1991 and back then they were 30 years behind what we would have been used to. 1960s standard hotels, with little or no investment for the past twenty years kind of sums the places up we're staying in. And the roads? Imagine driving London to Aberdeen with barely no dual carriageways let alone motorways. Neither are the worst things in the world but it is certainly different.

England manager Roy Hodgson celebrates victory after the final whistle. Credit: Press Association

The most important factor is the people are friendly and helpful, if there's anything they can do to help us enjoy our stay, they are only too happy to do so, short of a win on Tuesday night obviously. The policing is low key, the atmosphere entirely unthreatening and to date no obvious evidence of racism. Of course football hooliganism, often involving racism and the Far Right, exists here. Nobody is denying that, but it isn't so pervasive to infect the whole trip, which is what the media had suggested by sensationalising the issue.

During the day on Friday the Ukrainian fans had organised a walking tour of Kiev for us. Intensely proud of its history, they gave us a special, and fun, insight into a country that is really very new - only independent since 1991. It's a city of many periods and cultures, most obviously the churches and cathedrals plus the remnants of the Soviet era, plus in the city centre the encroachment of globalisation, yes there is a McDonald's. They treated us to Ukrainian fast food, lots of borscht, grilled vegetables, gorgeous pastries, a cold local beer, all for less than a fiver. Sightseeing plus cheap lunch plus match, not a bad day to spend a Friday. And a game that those who were there will probably put down as 'unforgettable'.

The England Band play during the match with Sweden. Credit: Press Association

Will it last? Lets not get ahead of ourselves and burden these players with those expectations all over again. But we sang 'We're Not Going Home' with a degree of reinforced certainty, as we exited the stadium.

There is money for some modernisation in this country though, the Kiev and the Donetsk stadiums are both new and magnificent, amongst the best in Europe and, unlike Wembley, easy to get away from, despite the huge crowds. Dynamo and Shaktar are regulars in European club competition, certainly no pushovers and contenders for the knock-out stages most seasons.

The clubs' owners form part of the East European super-rich, these are societies with enormous disparities of wealth - the places most of us are staying in and the infrastructure - we are making the best of using evidence of this gap.

Next up? Some relaxing sightseeing before all roads lead to Donetsk.

  • Mark Perryman is a member of the London England Fans supporters' group and the author of Ingerland: Travels with a Football Nation. His views do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News.

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