Fan’s eye view of the England v Italy game
It was quite apt, being at the Railway Tavern in Dereham, that it all started like a train but ran out of steam in the end – and the mood of the fans matched the performance of the team they were willing to win.
The spirit was upbeat before kick off as hundreds packed into the pub in Yaxham Road. Many had faces painted, most had an England shirt of some description and all were filled with the hope that Hodgson’s young guns could get the campaign off to a flying start.
Owner Paul Sandford had pulled out all the stops including constructing a fans’ stand from scaffolding which looked down on one of 12 screens.
The atmosphere was helped by old World Cup favourites from We’re On Our Way to Vindaloo belting out over the PA before kick-off.
Chests were pumped out as the National Anthem was sung heartily and the resident DJ got the crowd going with chants of “Eng-er-land” and “I’m England til I die”.
The pub erupted when everyone thought Sterling had scored when he hit the side netting. The most vociferous fans had a good minute of jumping around and hugging before they came down to earth.
It all predictably fell silent when Italy scored. Just a couple of minutes later, however, The Piranhas’ Tom Hark goal celebration music belted out and the place exploded into life as Sturridge netted.
Half-time came and all the talk was about optimism for a win.
Of course, it all ended in brave defeat. The fans drifted away quietly and heads down. But I sense they will be back full of hope again on Thursday night.