Hastings couple savour World Cup adventure

Les and Tracy Gasson outside the Nizhny Novgorod stadium at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Les and Tracy Gasson outside the Nizhny Novgorod stadium at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

A couple from Hastings had a wonderful time travelling around Russia by road and rail to follow England at the World Cup.

Les and Tracy Gasson undertook 1,400 miles of driving, plus two train journeys, and stayed in 12 hotels during a 17-day trip in which they watched all three of England’s group G games.

They said: “The ‘Russia with love tour’ was exactly that. Russia and the Russian people have been superb. We were taken aback by the Russian welcome, some staged via the volunteers, but the genuine warmth of the people in general was not fake.

“We had so many people stop us in the streets and offer to help in any way, from directions to non-payment of transport. The odd bottle of vodka found its way to our table on occasion!”

After flying to Moscow, where they stayed for two nights, the Gassons met a couple of friends from the north of England and then travelled by car today via Tambov to Volgograd, where England played their opening game against Tunisia.

That was followed by a drive to Nizhny Novgorod - where England played their second match against Panama - via Saratov, Penza and Arzamas.

After that they drove to Moscow via Suzdal and then embarked on a 21-hour train journey to Kaliningrad, where England faced Belgium in their final group game last Thursday.

The long train journey back to Moscow was followed by the flight home on Sunday, although they will be back for the final - if England get there - with a guaranteed ticket.

Local firm Superstitch86 supplied them with polo shirts and decorated their flag with both England and local livery.

They added: “The flag caused major stirs around all the host cities, as well as the smaller places we visited along the way.

“Overall the whole place was buzzing and one big colourful party. Those who chose not to go (mainly due to negative reporting and scaremongering by the media) have missed a gem of a World Cup. Colourful, friendly and well organised.”

Les, a Hollington lad’ who was born and bred in the town, previously took his son, then aged 10, to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

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