The woman on the train was from Birmingham, she said, going from Frankfurt to pick up the Eurostar at Brussels and from there, Waterloo Station and home.
Did you enjoy the game?
“He did,” she said, pointing at her son in the window seat, then lowering her eyes. “We’ve had a bit of a drama.”
Her story: Her father, who’d attended the 1966 World Cup and never stopped talking about it – “’You have to go to a World Cup game’, he always says” – got them two top-drawer tickets via an internet dealer, a Christmas present. Only 800 pounds.
The time passed and the tickets never arrived. She called the number of the ticket dealer to inquire. “The woman always answered,” she said. “Very strange.”
First it was that the tickets weren’t ready. Next was that the tickets were coming, but it was too late to post them. Then the van that had the tickets had been broken into.
Finally, on Wednesday, the ticket lady told her the news that, by then, she fully expected: There were no tickets. They never got replacements for the ones that were “stolen”.
“What was I going to do?” said the mother, pointing at the kid, 14, his Ipod earplugs in place, obliviously reading the Sunday Mail while the outskirts of Cologne rolled by.
“Get a tout,” her friends had told her. And besides, they had hotel reservations anyway, so why not? They went to Frankfurt.
“Turned out our hotel was in the red-light district, which wasn’t that great, but the good thing was the touts were all outside on the street. We didn’t have to look for them at all.”
They wanted too much. 1500 Euros. 1000 Euros.
“Finally we got the tickets – but only one, for him,” she said. "I couldn't afford anything more."
She waited a beat and lowered her voice to barely above whispering.
Where were the seats?
She turned to her son and asked him. He pulled out his earplugs. “Upper level behind the goal in the corner. Category 4.”
As for all that talk about the name on the ticket, they were wondering about that too. It didn’t matter.
“All that stuff about security and eliminating the black market? It’s rubbish.”
She had called the police back home, the consumer bureau, her friends. She had a better idea, she said.
“I’ve got the ticket woman’s address, and the way she was always answering the phone, I’ll bet she’s there. I’m going to go see her. I’m going to go ring her neck.”