And it's hi ho silver lining, as away EU go...

Approaching the European Championships which kicked off in France last week, I found my thoughts returning to an afternoon many moons ago, and an international sporting encounter which has coloured my outlook on such matters ever since.

Monday, 13th June 2016, 7:28 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 12:17 pm
LEP Columnist Barry Freeman

By a circuitous route, which need not detain us here, I found myself, along with a couple of oppos, draining glasses in the bar of an extraordinarily posh rugby club.

Union, I should add, we three scrotes being in the midst of a weekend haunting one of the more well-heeled corners of the South East.

Needless to say, being the sole scruffy northerners in said joint, we rapidly became quite a centre of attention, and much friendly ribbing ensued. Also plenty of unfriendly ribbing. Sneering, in fact, jokes about laziness, scrounging, dirt, communist treachery, etc.

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Happily indifferent to all but the subsidised beer, we simply nodded, smiled and merrily cast what aspersions we could back at the 100 per cent Tory crowd of middle-aged snot-gobblers.

Anyhow, during the course of all this ‘bantz’, on a screen in the bar, the English rugby union team were on the wrong end of a hiding from some Southern Hemisphere lot or other. I don’t recall which. To be honest, looking at rugby union has a powerful soporific effect on me, and if I watch too much the threat of coma looms large.

The main thing is that none of those giving us grief were enjoying this spectacle. Quite the reverse in fact, and at match’s end, it is fair to say all present turned away from the box with faces of thunder.

The moral of this story? Any innate loyalty I might have had to England is set aside when watching the national side play rugby union. Whenever they lose I know somewhere this snooty gaggle, mostly old men by now, will be sorely gutted. And this cheers me right up.

Now, returning to the 2016 European Championships and, critically, the imminent EU referendum.

Observing the shaven-headed face-painted, flag-waving supporters caught up in the violence in Marseille, it suddenly occurred to me that, if analysis of Brexit support is even remotely accurate, the vast majority of this mob will be voting Leave.

Which makes for a nice silver lining should England’s football dreams once more melt away in the heat of reality.