Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2016: Passport own goal means baby fan Poppy misses out on France trip

By Ivan Little

One of the Green and White Army's youngest recruits has been shown the red card from Euro 2016 after a passport mix-up.

Four-month-old Poppy Phillips from Newtownabbey was all geared up in her Northern Ireland football kit and ready to go to France with her mum and dad Bryan and Natasha but the family only got as far as Rosslare in Co Wexford.

All because Poppy's parents scored something of an own goal.

A devastated Bryan said: "We forgot to get Poppy a passport, but we thought the authorities at the ferry port might let us through with her birth and medical certificates."

However, after driving all the way to Rosslare the Phillips discovered that the Republic's authorities were in no mood to give them a bye-ball.

Bryan said: "They told us there was nothing they could do. So we just had to give up, turn around and head for home."

The Phillips had been planning to go to the first two group matches against Poland and Ukraine.

"But it just wasn't to be," said Bryan.

"Everything went against us, though thankfully we were able to get the tickets sold to Northern Ireland supporters." Despite the setback Poppy was still able to sample her first taste of Northern Ireland football fervour as the Phillips took her with them to watch the opening game against Poland on television in a pub in Fermanagh on Sunday. They were staying in a caravan park near Lough Erne and headed for a bar in Kesh which had been re-named Lafferty's for the duration of Euro 2016 in honour of star striker Kyle Lafferty who was born in the town.

Poppy really looked the part in her tiny GAWA t-shirt and shorts with the Northern Ireland and Euro 2016 logos on them which Natasha had ordered online.

Bryan said: "Obviously we should have been at the match for real in Nice but we reckoned Lafferty's bar would be the next best thing.

"The 1-0 defeat to Poland was a disappointment for everyone but we have two more games to go and hopefully we will still get through to the next stage of the competition."

After the game Kyle Lafferty's sister Sonia came over to greet Poppy and her parents.

"The baby was the only person in the whole pub with a smile on her face," added one onlooker.

Belfast Telegraph