Last night was a late one for a middle aged man! The match didn't finish till midnight and we re off and on the road again at 5:30, catching the train to Donetsk. A new and very comfy train swooshing across the vast Ukrainuan countryside. We sit with a Turkish sports editor who insists on an epic three hour sports! Question after question and no chance to stop - if I pause he's straight at me again, "attack me with your best question. Attack me now". He knows everything about the Premier League and has been at most of the big games in the last 30 years; but I win the day by asking him to name all eleven English teams with unique last names - he had no chance with Crewe Alexander, Preston North End and Plymouth Argyle. Game over.
What to say about last nights game? Just why are Germany so very good? And that's what last night was all about, just the better team. The sadness is they always are. You can't fault them. They play great football. Being with the Dutch fans last night felt like watching England - so much passion, so little real hope. So much Oranje but it's not enough. And let's be fair, the German fans are fun too. We spent the hours before the match in the fan zone with the beer flowing and the songs resounding. But all fun and no trouble.
Donetsk is a big city of a million or so people, founded in the 19 th Century by an Englishman, John Hughes, with a major line in coal and steel. It is very green, lots of trees, several spoil heaps from the mining and very hot! we arrived at 10:30, took a bus across town to the fanzone and spent a happy few hours in the shade, eating Shashlik and sampling local beer and finally dozing contentedly on the park bench. There was even free wi-fi throughout the park!
Finally about 4pm our Ukrainian hosts arrived to pick us up. Galyna and Igor work at the Donetsk hospital. Igor is a paediatric surgeon. Both speak better English than we do! At this stage we finally parted with our sports quiz addicted Turkish friend who having adopted us as his best friends ever - took some persuading that we really were going to move on and leave him behind.
We'd never met Galyna and Igor before! They are friends of a friend of Tony's sister and a few months ago very kindly accepted the task of looking after two middle age Englishmen wanting to watch football and dink beer in Donetsk foolish in the extreme. But we have had a lot of email chat and were confident they would be fine folk! I am sure they were less confident about us! But all turns out well. Galyna is lovely, Igor is a fascinating and highly educated; and best of all? They love football and both drink beer!
After settling into to their modern appartment in the 14 th floor of a tower block ( all very modern and nice), we take another nap and then head off to the John Hughes (the founder of Donetsk) pub to eat cold soup and mountains of meat ( nice but just too much!) We're sitting outside in a beautiful evening with TVs at every angle so we can't miss a beat as Croatia draw with Itlay and Spain (and I am wearing my Iniesta shirt still) trounce Ireland. Surely we are looking at a Euro final that is round three of the current Spain v Germany fight for world football domination - rounds 1 & 2 to Spain if course in 2008 and semi final 2010. Can't see anyone else getting near them. Apart from England of course!
People over here, including Galyna and Igor, are constantly asking about the television documentaries and how they make us feel about Ukraine. They are angry and embarrassed about some coverage. We tell them not to worry about it. They are delivering a great Euro 2012 and should be proud. They like that.
And so ends day three. Started early with titanic and ultimately rather odd sports quiz and ends in a western style appartment with air con on and the replays on the wall mounted TV in Galyna s spare room.