TOWER OF STRENGTH

Liam hails re­silience of French peo­ple as he re­turns to scene of his Paris ter­ror

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Dou­glas Dickie

A Cam­bus­lang teenager who was caught up in Novem­ber’s Paris ter­ror at­tacks has de­scribed his re­turn to the city for Euro 2016.

Liam Wat­son, 16, was at the France-Ger­many game in the Stade de France on Novem­ber 13 last year when a sui­cide bomber tried to get into the sta­dium be­fore blow­ing him­self up, killing one passer by.

On a night of hor­ror in the French cap­i­tal, 130 peo­ple were killed by ISIS terrorists.

Liam and his dad, Willie, faced a fright­en­ing jour­ney back to their ho­tel, and Liam’s tweets de­scrib­ing the scenes he wit­nessed drew sup­port from peo­ple all over the coun­try.

But rather than putting him off go­ing back to the French cap­i­tal, brave Liam headed over with Willie to take in Poland’s match with Ger­many in the very same venue on June 16.

Cathkin High pupil Liam said: “It was a bit strange to be­gin with, the city was a lot more up­beat and se­cured than last time.

“As for go­ing to the ground, it made me in­stantly think of last time so I had a wee bit of worry, but over­all I’m glad I was able to get a chance to go back.”

Back in Novem­ber, football fa­natic Liam had de­scribed peo­ple in tears at the game.

He said the or­deal had been “very, very scary,” and “never to be for­got­ten.”

On re­turn­ing to Scot­land, the de­fi­ant young­ster said: “Paris seemed such a re­silient city. They’ll not let ISIS get their way.”

But his ex­pe­ri­ence this time was far more en­joy­able as he at­tended two games and mixed with football fans from all over Europe.

Rangers fan Liam has been abroad at least 10 times on football trips.

Cam­bus­lang teenager Liam Wat­son was gut­ted Scot­land were not at Euro 2016 – but that did not stop him and his dad Willie from jet­ting out to France to take in the football.

The pair at­tended two games dur­ing a week-long trip to Paris to watch Ger­many v Poland and North­ern Ire­land v Ger­many.

The trip came just a few months af­ter Liam and Willie had been in the Stade de France when it was tar­geted by terrorists in Novem­ber last year.

Here’s Liam’s Euro 2016 di­ary...

It seemed harsh that Scot­land had not made the Eu­ros, so my­self and my dad de­cided to make our­selves the na­tion’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The an­tic­i­pa­tion was dif­fer­ent to what I’d ever felt be­fore go­ing to football abroad, there were count­less num­bers of fans set­ting off on their way to France mak­ing the buzz feel even more real.

We ar­rived in the city on June 15 which was on high se­cu­rity but still ex­tremely wel­com­ing on the evening France played host to Al­ba­nia.

We set up base at Clichy’s Tav­ern to watch the game along with a fully packed pub. The sense of na­tional pride was easy to see and a win for the hosts made sure ev­ery­one was in happy spir­its.

The next day was even more ex­cit­ing. Poland v Ger­many was the talk of the day and we luck­ily had tick­ets.

Be­fore­hand we made our base in a lo­cal pub to watch Eng­land v Wales. On ei­ther side of us were two English lads and two Irish lads – com­edy ma­te­rial, eh?

We talked with the English lads for hours about football and shared dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences from through­out our years of trav­el­ing.

The day had a strange feel for us, hav­ing been in­volved in last year’s tragic events. Luck­ily this time was less dra­matic and with high se­cu­rity we knew we were safe. The at­mos­phere was sim­ply im­mense and both sets of fans did them­selves proud, al­though the game ended in a dull 0-0 draw.

The next day we took as a ‘rest’ day. We sat on our bal­cony ad­mir­ing the Paris scenery while hav­ing some quiet time.

On the Satur­day we vis­ited Sacré-Coeur. It felt like an­other world. As we made our way up, there were many Aus­trian fans pre­par­ing for their game against Por­tu­gal; a friendly bunch who were eas­ily mix­ing in with the lo­cals.

The views from the top were mag­nif­i­cent, con­tin­u­ous build­ings and mon­u­ments as far as the sky­line went. We were bom­barded with street artists look­ing to show their artis­tic skills.

On Sun­day we be­came proper tourists and did the bus tour. It was in­ter­est­ing to see an­other side of Paris and all that it has to of­fer.

Mon­day saw us leave our apart­ment in Blanche and de­part for Creil, about an hour from Paris. We ar­rived to a ghost town wait­ing for our Ger­man friends.

The next day was our penul­ti­mate day in Paris and our last game of the Eu­ros.

We set off about 9am and made our way down to Paris to visit the Eif­fel Tower which was some­thing I was keen to tick off my bucket list.

There were tourists ev­ery­where, along with thou­sands of North­ern Ire­land and Ger­many fans. Both sides’ songs were con­stantly on the go which made for a good vibe.

The at­mos­phere out­side the ground was un­be­liev­able, the sheer noise and ban­ter was some­thing to be­hold.

When we got into the Parc Des Princes we saw a sea of green and white across the sta­dium.

Both sets of fans had turned out in num­bers and it made for a crack­ing at­mos­phere, al­though the game it­self was a dull af­fair.

A mas­sive shout out to the Ul­ster boys who were by far the best in­ter­na­tional fans I’ve ever come across.

And so came the end of our trip to Paris and our Eu­ros ad­ven­ture. Un­til the next time...

Re­flec­tion Liam Wat­son re­turned to Paris for first time since sta­dium or­deal (in­set)

Euro trip Liam Wat­son from Cam­bus­lang

Match Liam’s view at the North­ern Ire­land v Ger­many game in the Parc des Princes

View Liam took this pic­ture from the top of Sacré-Coeur

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