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Market Deeping football fans head to Germany for Euro 24

A group of friends are set to embark on a football fan’s dream trip to cheer on England at the upcoming European Championships.

Stuart Bowman, Nigel Matthews, Adrian Thompson and Andy Machattie, all in their early 60s and from Market Deeping, will set off on their epic road trip to Germany in a few weeks’ time.

The four old friends, regulars of the Vine and Bull pubs in Deeping, hit on the idea after a few pints during one of their weekly Friday catch-ups.

The quartet will represent Market Deeping at Euro 24. From left - Nigel Matthews, Andy Machattie, Stuart Bowman, Adrian Thompson (standing)
The quartet will represent Market Deeping at Euro 24. From left - Nigel Matthews, Andy Machattie, Stuart Bowman, Adrian Thompson (standing)

While the England squad will travel in comparative luxury to their state-of-the-art base in Blankenhain, the ‘four old gits’ will pile into Adrian’s campervan for the 425-mile trip to a campsite just outside Dortmund.

“Like all good ideas, the four of us were in the pub one Friday afternoon talking about football and what have you,” said Stuart, a diehard Chelsea fan who saw his first match live in 1971.

“One of the chaps piped up ‘I’ve got a campervan’ and the whole thing snowballed from there.”

The mayor of Market Deeping and fellow councillors have agreed to wave them off from the town hall when the odyssey begins on June 14.

Complete with a specially-commissioned Market Deeping St George’s flag, they will drive to Harwich where they will catch the ferry to the Hook of Holland, in the Netherlands, and then drive on into Germany.

There they plan to watch England’s opening group match with Serbia at the Gelsenkirchen fan park before heading home.

“We haven’t been able to get tickets for the game, but we wanted to go and experience the Euro’s atmosphere,” Stuart explained.

While united under the England banner, the quartet will try to put their club allegiances to one side - Stuart is a diehard Chelsea fan, while Andy supports Manchester United and Nigel and Adrian follow Liverpool.

“It’s quite a rare thing to have a Man United, Chelsea supporters and two Liverpool supporters in unison,” Stuart added.

“We’ve had some special England shirts created and embroidered, so on the back of mine I’ve got ‘Blue is the Colour’ for Chelsea, the Man United fan has got ‘Theatre of Dreams’, and the two Liverpool fans have got ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.”

It may not be the only aspect to test their friendship as they prepare to spend a week living together at close quarters.

“It’s my first time, but some of the chaps have been to previous tournaments in Europe where they have driven and stayed in a tent,” Stuart said.

“This time we’ve got a little bit of luxury in a campervan.

“Four men in their 60s sharing a campervan, I think we’ll probably need a knife to cut the air some mornings.”

Family commitments - and work commitments for two of the group - means they won’t be careering up and down the autobahns of Germany following England’s progress.

But how do they rate the Three Lions’ chances of a first major tournament win since the 1966 World Cup?

“I’d certainly see us getting at least to the semi-finals,” said Stuart.

“We’ve got a very strong squad, and when you look at the other sides, I think we’ve got a very good chance.”

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