Sunday’s Inspiration: I Don’t Know Where I’m Going #gawa

“I look to the future, it makes me cry. But it seems too real, to tell you why. Escape from our history. Free from the memory” – Nicky Wire.

Sunday's Inspiration - I don't know where I'm going. #gawa

Sunday’s Inspiration – I don’t know where I’m going. #gawa

I didn’t know what to write today so my heart is just pouring out some emotion here while I jot this down, live from the Hostel Jacques Brel in Brussels, Belgium. I don’t know why I’m in Belgium in truth. As you may have read, I was in France for two weeks and the plan was to stay in France until my beloved Northern Ireland international football team either won the tournament, or got knocked out.

“It’s the Ulster boys making all the noise, everywhere we go” – Northern Irish football fans.

With my two brothers Marko and Danny and my Dad Joe in Lyon, 2 days before the Northern Ireland 2-0 Ukraine match

With my two brothers Marko and Danny and my Dad Joe in Lyon, 2 days before the Northern Ireland 2-0 Ukraine match

That moment came around 8 pm last night in the city of Paris. A Gareth McAuley own goal put my wee Northern Ireland out, in fine voice, but ultimately it was a 1-0 defeat and we were out of the tournament. Wales progressed. I had a quick decision to make. I needed to keep my promise to myself so immediately, I booked myself on a border bus to Brussels in Belgium in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Arrival in Brussels, Belgium

Arrival in Brussels, Belgium

I know I’ll reflect more on the European Championships in France 2016, in future writings again but right now I feel pride at my country, but I also feel I have achieved something personal. This was my dream, long before backpacking the world. To watch Northern Ireland at a tournament. I went to all four matches, loved the party, it was all bliss.

“Everyday is all there is; in my some kind of bliss” – Kylie Minogue.

Everyday is all there is

Everyday is all there is

I also reached the 121 “cap” mark as a fan, so it doesn’t seem I have any dreams left, other than if we qualify for the World Cup again. As a Northern Irish football fan, this is a high. It might be a good time to call it a day on away trips. Having travelled to Adana, Trieste, Riga, Lyon etc. down the years as well as countless trips back home to Bangor and Belfast for the home matches, it feels good to go out on a high. But who can tell. None of our destinies are really in our own hands.

Just another bus on the journey

Just another bus on the journey

Through my passion for supporting my country, I have now hopefully helped people understand the benefits and joys of supporting a wee country like ours. I hoped it would make an impression and we would all live happy lives. The GAWA (Green and White Army) is now bigger than we could have ever imagined all those ago at 5-0 home defeats to Spain. I’m proud of my interviews about supporting Northern Ireland on media outlets like the BBC, Belfast Telegraph, German TV and most recently The Sun newspaper, yesterday. This was always my favourite British newspaper when I lived in England, so I’m humbled by it.

Yesterday's news - The Sun newspaper

Yesterday’s news – The Sun newspaper

Yesterday's time on German TV

Yesterday’s time on German TV

I don’t know where I’m going from Brussels, I have to check out of this hostel at 11 am tomorrow and from there – who knows. Here are some photos from the tournament, I have hundreds more, and will share all in good time.

“Will Grigg’s on fire; your defence is terrified” – Wigan Athletic fans.

The Blairs in Lyon

The Blairs in Lyon

Dad and I on route to France

Dad and I on route to France

With the East Belfast lads in the hostel in Paris

With the East Belfast lads in the hostel in Paris

Bangor boys in Lyon, France

Bangor boys in Lyon, France

GAWA in Paris

GAWA in Paris

Dream achieved - pre match in Nice v. Poland

Dream achieved – pre match in Nice v. Poland

With some Poland fans in Nice

With some Poland fans in Nice

My Dad Joe Blair with the Dunmurry Rec NISC

My Dad Joe Blair with the Dunmurry Rec NISC

Match ticket v. Poland

Match ticket v. Poland

HWG...A does Poland

HWG…A does Poland

Green and White Army!

Green and White Army!

Pre match in Nice v. Poland

Pre match in Nice v. Poland

Pre match in Nice v. Poland

Pre match in Nice v. Poland

Graham and I in Nice

Graham and I in Nice

Owen and I in Nice

Owen and I in Nice

Welcome to Paris

Welcome to Paris

Matthew, Andrew and my Dad in Paris

Matthew, Andrew and my Dad in Paris

Garth Crooks and I in Paris - BBC football pundit

Garth Crooks and I in Paris – BBC football pundit

Andrew, Matthew, Gavin and I before the Wales match in Paris

Andrew, Matthew, Gavin and I before the Wales match in Paris

Gavin and I selling fanzines in France

Gavin and I selling fanzines in France

Meeting author Stephen Rea and friends.

Meeting author Stephen Rea and friends.

With Andrew, best man from my cousin's wedding

With Andrew, best man from my cousin’s wedding

Radio DJ Colin Murray and the lads in Paris

Radio DJ Colin Murray and the lads in Paris

With Owen Millar from Brisbane NISC and some long time room mates and party mates down the GAWA years

With Owen Millar from Brisbane NISC and some long time room mates and party mates down the GAWA years

Matthew and I - we're second round

Matthew and I – we’re second round

I will update when I can but it seems my crazy journey needs a new twist very very soon. Right now, I have no idea where, when or what that might be. I’m confused but things will work out, somewhere somehow. Thanks to my fellow Northern Ireland fans for inspiring this magical journey. Again, on with the show.

“Your destiny may keep you warm” – Noel Gallagher.

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2 thoughts on “Sunday’s Inspiration: I Don’t Know Where I’m Going #gawa

  • Hi Jonny,
    I just saw your article today (mondaymorning) if you are still in Brussels we could meet up. You could have contacted me on sunday by mail or twitter I was free, so I could show you around a little and have a Belgian beer. I alos tweeted you today so if it fits your Schedule let me know and we could meet at the grand place in Brussels around 1pm today or even tomorrow tuesday 28 june

  • Hi Pol, I just seen it and replied. Even though I have friends in Belgium, I had no idea any of you were in Brussels. All sorted now – see you at 1pm! Jonny

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