Long one. Havent been on the forum for a while but thought I’d come on today and share my experience.
Three of us travelled down to Folkestone early Friday morning and boarded the train to Calais. Only I had a ticket for the match.
We arrive at our paris hotel just before midday. Quick power nap, change of clothes and off we go to explore the city and what is has to offer.
First stop was the stadium. Stadium itself is quality even though it’s located in a bit of a shithole. I just knew straight away there would be problems on Saturday just from it’s layout. We saw a team of stewards and security being briefed and were being told what formations to use and how to block paths basically. My focus was mostly on Melissa Reddy though who was filming for sky sports and is unbelievably gorgeous in the flesh.
We move on and go to the Eiffel Tower. Lots of reds around now and the atmosphere was building. A few Madrid fans too who shared a smile, laugh and a few beers with us.
We then go to notre dame. Lovely place. A small strip of bars so we decided to stay there for the evening. Thousands of reds in the area now all singing, dancing and bevvying until the early hours. Lots of locals with their cameras out filming who all wanted to join in too. Really good carnival type atmosphere.
Saturday morning and off to the fan park we go. I’ve never seen as many reds in all my life. It was unbelievable. I’ve seen reports that they believe 60,000 went over but honestly, it was double that easily. It was incredible.
There was a heavy security presence around the perimeter of the fan park and at the entrances too but apart from them removing or confiscating alcohol, i didn’t witness any bother from them. We queued for a while but got into the fan park relatively easily. The fan park I’m not joking was probably a mile long if not further. Once you actually got in, it was a 20 minute walk just to get within sight of the stage.
A few acts warmed the crowd up until Jamie came on and did his set and the whole place was bouncing. The videos and photos will probably never do it justice. Jamie finished bang on half 5 and I decided to leave the fan park at that moment. My two mates stayed as that’s where they were watching the match so we said our goodbyes.
I got on the metro and got to the ground one hour later at half 6, so 2 and a half hours before kick off.
There was a heavy police presence who parked vans across narrow paths that causing a bottle neck walk way. It was their first checkpoint for security but it caused lots of queues and all kinds of other problems.
I got to the turnstiles and there were already thousands of reds there. There were hundreds of locals who decided to turn up too with the sole purpose of bunking in and to cause trouble - many of them pickpocketing and robbing us right infront of the police who did nothing and turned a blind eye to it completely.
The security behind the turnstiles were checking tickets at a snail pace and unfortunately a few reds had fake tickets. Every time somebody tried to get in with a fake ticket or one of the locals tried to bunk in, the security would drag a huge gate across the entrance and wouldn’t remove it for another 5, 10 or 15 minutes at a time.
People were being crushed at this point with the bottle neck systems in place and the huge delays at the gates. We were all thinking the same thing, it was just horrendous. Women, children and many men were in tears. I saw many people just walk away as they chose to remove themselves from the situation. I was considering it myself at one point.
We had no help from the stewards or police and instead we got the exact opposite. Begging them for help but we were met with pepper spray and sometimes even batons. We were trapped. People were falling to the ground after being gassed, some in agony and locals then saw them as an easy target and an opportunity to rob them too.
There were no announcements anywhere so we had no idea the game had been delayed. This caused panic and people were becoming restless and angry. There were kick offs everywhere.
I don’t know how but I managed to get in the ground. I’d been gassed like many others and couldn’t see a thing though. If I had arrived 10 or 15 minutes later I don’t think I’d have gotten in.
The game itself I don’t even remember it. I haven’t watched it back and dont plan to either. I think a lot of reds inside that ground felt like me where we were all shaken up and just relieved to be somewhat safe. I couldn’t concentrate on the game.
The game finishes and we then received the exact same treatment coming out of the ground. Met with riot police, more bottle neck systems, more gas and more locals around starting fights or robbing us. Nothing was being done about them. Nothing at all.
Anything said about us turning up late is just a complete and utter lie. This is completely on uefa and the french authorities. I’m sure we will all hear the same old sh*te at anfield next season being ‘always the victims’ but it’s a miracle that nobody lost their life on Saturday night. That I know of anyway. It was that bad.
The first opportunity I got to get away from the french police I took it. Even though it was a rough area with lots of scumbags around I thought that was better than being anywhere near them. I wasn’t going for a pint after that experience so I booked an Uber to my hotel and rang my mates on the way. My mates had done the same thing as they had the same treatment leaving the fan park! They said the police had their shields out with batons drawn and were gassing people for no reason at all. I couldn’t believe they were telling me this after I’d spent the vast majority of the day there and couldn’t understand how a great friendly atmosphere could turn like that.
We all got back to the hotel roughly the same time and went to sleep more or less. Got up the next morning and just couldn’t wait to go home.
What a horrendous way to end the season. A truly sh*t experience that will live with me for a long time. But I’m f**king proud of my team. My club. What a season it was. Played in every game possible and came within minutes of winning the lot. An unreal achievement. Jürgen and those lads are living legends and I love them all. And I’m proud of my fellow reds too. The best supporters in the world. We came out in our thousands and even when we were treated like caged animals we behaved impeccably. I hope anybody who went all returned home safe. See you all in Turkey next year.