Army

Euro 2020: British Army Musician To Realise Dream With Wembley Final Performance

The soldier was in attendance for England's Euro 96 exit but says this side and its manager "resonates with how we do things" in the Army.

As the nation holds its breath, hoping the England men's football team can lift their first major trophy since 1966, one football-mad British Army soldier will be releasing his own dream.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Phil Dickson, Band Sergeant Major for the Band of the Coldstream Guards, will be on the Wembley turf when England take on Italy in the UEFA Euro 2020 final on Sunday night.

While he won't be kicking a ball, WO2 Dickson will be part of a six-man team of Army musicians performing a fanfare at the start of England's biggest football match for generations.  

The 48-year-old from Somerset said it is "fantastic" to be performing at the final, especially now he knows England will be playing in the game.

"I'm so proud to be representing the Band of the Coldstream Guards, at Wembley, in an England final, to a global audience," he said.

"It really doesn't get much better than this!"

Just as many other England football fans can recall 'years of hurt', WO2 Dickson was sitting behind the goal when Gareth Southgate, now England's manager, missed a crucial penalty against Germany 25 years ago in the semi-finals of Euro 96.

Watch: 'Football mania' overtakes Row Sentinel before England final.

He believes the current crop of England players are "looking forward and focused on winning".

"That's the attitude we have in the Army, and when I see how Gareth Southgate is leading his team, leading from the front, it resonates with how we do things," WO2 Dickson said.

A 67,000-strong crowd will be in attendance for the final and the team of six musicians will be faced with the challenge of exactly filling the space with the fanfare they will play.

"The match organisers have said the fanfare needs to last for precisely 21 seconds," WO2 Dickson said.

"We'll be socially distanced, there'll be pyrotechnics, lighting, the roar of the arena, so hearing each other and seeing each other so we can keep synchronised is not an option, so that's where the professional training comes in.

"This is what we do, adapting and rising to the challenge is part and parcel of being in the Army, so no matter how big the event, the moment that tunic and bearskin goes on, you know you're performing, and it just brings out the best in everyone," he added.

Watch: Euro 2020 – British military personnel in Cyprus celebrate Harry Kane's winner vs Denmark.

WO2 Dickson explained the fanfare is Miklos, "composed by a former Coldstream Guards band member" and is one they "don't play often".

The three silver trumpets and three trombones of the fanfare team will bear the blue, red, blue banners of the Household Division, embroidered with the Coldstream Guards cap star.

The musicians will be wearing their iconic red tunics and bearskin hats with red plumes.

All six Army musicians participating are massive football fans, so whatever the result they say they're proud and privileged to be part of the event.

But WO2 Dickson says, they're all praying for an England win.

"It's been a long wait," he said. "I'd like England to win convincingly with that passion we've seen building throughout this competition.

"A 3-0 victory, clean, decisive with no extra time and no penalties. 

"Like the Coldstream Guards motto: Nulli secundus – Second to none."

Cover image: Band Sergeant Major Phil Dickson, who will be performing at Wembley for the UEFA Euro 2020 final (Picture: MOD).