I fondly remember racing down my local high street back in the Summer of ‘96. I was on the way to pick up an England kit, my first England kit. I opted for the away incarnation, it’s duelling shades of gunmetal grey accented by white and red stripes were, and still are, a thing of beauty. I can’t remember if selected a player’s name to adorn the back… perhaps Shearer (the tournament’s eventual Golden Boot winner). However, I do remember instantly wanting to wear the strip home and watch England reclaim a fraction of the World Cup glory experienced thirty years prior.
After caning Holland 4-1 in the group stages (yep, really happened) and sinking Spain in a penalty shootout during the quarter-finals (yep, also really happened), the stage was set for an epic showdown with Germany upon the hallowed pitch of Wembley. Back at home a youthful wide-eyed version of myself sat expectantly watching the action unfold. Oooh penalties… exciting! Shearer, Platt, Pearce, Gascoigne, Sheringham – all scored their respective penalties. Unfortunately the Germans were just as convincing under pressure. Ahh Gareth Southgate… sorry, wait, what!? Why’s Southgate walking toward the goal? And the rest is history; history stained with English tears that is responsible for the first taste of sporting misery for children up and down the country wearing their first kit. Can it be different this time? Is football finally coming home twenty years later?
Now ultimately we’re here to talk about beer and not sporting sorrow on a national level. Beer from all over Europe that you can enjoy throughout your country’s attempts to capture footballing glory at this Summer’s European Football Championships. Don’t sit their with a lukewarm tin of mass-produced, flavourless alcohol water, celebrate the spoils of your homeland’s landscape and the hands that tend it. That way, when penalties beckon, you can take comfort in the fact that whatever happens, you’ve got a fridge loaded with incredibly flavourful, brewery fresh craft beers that will make you realise that things really aren’t that bad. Also I don’t blame you Gareth, Paul ‘I play for Inter Milan’ Ince should have taken that pen.