- 6 Oct 07, 07:26 PM
Marseille - More bad news for those who have been complaining about us wasting their licence fee for the last five weeks: England are off to the semi-finals of the World Cup…and we’re going with them!
Not even as I weaved my way through the puddles of sick and empty beer glasses that littered Marseille’s Old Port at 6am on Saturday did I think Brian Ashton’s boys were going to beat Australia.
And Tommy could barely raise a peep put of me eight hours later as we trudged, green of gill and Guinness-moustached, towards the Stade Velodrome alongside England’s raucous army of travelling fans.
Only 20 minutes in, as Aussie scrum after Aussie scrum disintegrated under the might of England’s front row, did I begin to believe. Those Wallaby forwards - they took one hell of a beating.
My hands are still shaking as I type these words, which is a bit of a pain because I desperately want to get back into town and right back on it - tonight is going to be the mother of all crash, bang, wallops, make no mistake.
I fully expect the Aussies to be in amongst it. Disappointed, devastated, but gracious I’m sure.
Dumped out by Fiji in the last round and they’ve still turned up in droves, Bread of Heavening their way through the streets of Marseille as if they were marching on to the final.
In fact, the winner of Friday night’s sing-off wasn’t England or Australia, but Wales, clinching the contest with another rousing 52-part harmony version of Sloop John B.
Not even when one of the participants broke off to vomit all over my feet (those damn flip-flops again) did I get upset. Such was the vibe: buoyant, joyful, with not a sniff of any beef.
Not that the English and Australians were having a quiet one. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2007 World Cup officially went mental on Friday night.
Most England fans were talking a cricket-score victory for the Aussies. Most Aussies were talking in terms of telephone numbers.
But Brian Ashton knew better. Criticised in some quarters for recalling Phil Vickery and Mark Regan, he made a lot of people, including old misery guts Dirs, look very, very stupid.
The devastation on the faces of the Wallaby players will live with me for ever, as will myself and Tommy’s entirely un-BBC fist-pumping celebrations on the final whistle.
Tommy has just informed me that some bloke has broken the Golden Bloggernaut Rule. But, the mood I’m in, not even a misplaced jobby can get me down.
We thought this trip couldn’t get any better, but it just did. What chance a victory over the All Blacks in Paris next weekend? No chance surely, but just you boys keep on proving me wrong…
PS. Anyone know where The Big V is? Word is he’s in Marseille and I’d like nothing more right now than a game of Ubogu with the man himself.
Ben Dirs is a BBC Sport journalist travelling around France in a camper van with Tom Fordyce. Click here to search for all of Tom and Ben's blog videos.