It was a rare moment of joy for England supporters watching Capello’s lions beat Slovenia in South Africa to secure their place in the final 16. We joined the insurance world’s biggest footie fans and sponsors Event Insurance Services at Vinopolis for a nerve-wracking 90 minutes
Rubbish. Sloppy. Useless. Every negative adjective in the dictionary is thrown at the England football team prior to their final group clash with Slovenia. For England, it’s win or bust.
With nerves jangling, around 100 guests descend on Vinopolis, off London’s Borough High Street, for the clash hosted by Insurance Times and sponsors Event Insurance Services. Guests eagerly tuck into the free drink and grub before settling down to watch the game on a giant screen. They kick off. England look disjointed in the first 10 minutes. “That James Milner’s rubbish,” one irate fan cries out. “He’s class, you’ll see,” fires back Oliva Underwriting director Cliff Browne.
A near miss from Frank Lampard. Agonisingly wide from Stevie Gerrard. This isn’t the England team we know – this is promising! And all of a sudden, a peach of a cross from Milner is volleyed home by Spurs hitman Jermain Defoe. The crowd erupts with triumph and relief.
The second-half continues in the same vein. A gift spurned by Rooney. Oh! Defoe pokes the ball just wide. Ahh! “I’ve seen too many England games to think we’re safe,” Cliff warns. Suddenly tension fills the room. A heroic block by John Terry denies Slovenia. Then it’s West Ham’s Matty Upson’s turn to play saviour. “Surely we can’t blow it now?” pleads one desperate fan, slumped over his lager. After an agonising final 10 minutes of bums on edges of seats, the whistle blows. Cheers all round.
Man of the match? James Milner. “I told you he was class. He’s just a young land – needs a bit of time,” Cliff says. Too right. Everyone’s so happy right now, they could kiss Milner’s sweaty football boots. A relieved hum fills the room as guests linger to revel in the post-match analysis and discuss the eyebrow-raising bit of news just coming through. Next up, the Germans. Well, we all know how that one finished … IT