May 22 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, June 10, 2012
A Norwich pub was transformed into a Spanish taverna this afternoon as the defending champions kicked off their Euro 2012 campaign.
Bedecked in red and yellow, the Castlegates pub in Timberhill was claimed by more than 100 Spain fans as their own for the tournament.
The world and European champions got the defence of their title under way aginst Italy to chants of “Espana! Espana!” from fans in the pub.
Offering the fans a “home venue” was the landlord Graham Patching’s idea, after he reached a similar set-up with Mexico fans during the World Cup in 2010.
“It seemed like an obvious thing to do because we get so much Spanish support in the pub when we show the Barcelona and Real Madrid matches during the season,” he said.
“The number of fans we have in for the game is almost as many for when England play.
“But it’s not just Spanish fans we’ve got – there are also a few Italians here too for the game, and we’ll have lots of other nationalities during the tournament.
“Spanish games are always well supported.
“The fans have been watching the games here for many years, and they have become friends too.”
After the game, fans enjoyed salsa music during the Republic of Ireland’s match against Croatia, and Mr Patching said that more Iberian touches were in store.
“We weren’t sure how many fans we would have for the first game, so we have got the salsa music for them to dance to, but for the later stages, if they go through, we will be serving tapas.”
Spain are the tournament favourites, having won their last two international tournaments, and heavily tipped to make it three in a row.
Fan Juan Vallespi, 36, was in confident mood before yesterday’s game kicked off.
“We will be champions,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter that we are missing some of our players, because it is about the mentality. We will be champions.”
The pharmacist, originally from Barcelona but now living in the Golden Triangle, said he had watched Spain wins the World Cup in the Castlegates.
“It’s a great place to watch the matches because there is such a good atmosphere.
“It’s really friendly and the fans all get on and have fun.
“The Spanish fans manage to create a nice atmosphere, which then attracts the fans from other teams as well.”