In pictures: England fans enjoy Euro 2020 win at Norwich fan park
- Credit: Victoria Pertusa
Football felt like it was coming home as about 300 fans watched England win their Euro 2020 opener at a fan park in Norwich.
The finals were delayed a year, due to coronavirus, but by 2pm on Sunday The Arena in Avian Way in Norwich, was buzzing with fans cheering on Gareth Southgate's men in England's tournament opener against Croatia
A carpet of fans dressed in a mixture of white tops, red tops and even some with no tops filled the area in front of a giant 6m x 3m screen for the match against the side England lost to in the World Cup semi-finals in 2018.
But a Raheem Sterling strike won the match for England and ensured everyone left the park elated and looking forward to the clash with Scotland on Friday.
Fans had been whipped up into a frenzy by local DJ Gary Sulter whose playlist culminated, at 1.45pm, with Three Lions which found everyone in fine voice.
There might have been just 300 at The Arena but it sounded more like 3,000 as those much-loved lyrics rang out. The glorious sunshine that bathed the pitch at Wembley was mirrored in Norwich, promoting several warnings for those watching the action to make sure they have plenty of water as well as alcohol.
Every England attack was greeted with cheers and excited fans climbing from their chairs to their feet.
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Sporadic chants of “It’s coming home, it’s coming home, football’s coming home” burst out throughout the clash as England sought to end 55 years of hurt since they lifted the 1966 World Cup, also at Wembley.
The Arena erupted in the 57th minute when Sterling gave England the lead sending beer flying as people leapt to their feet in delight and that song, Three Lions, belted out once more.
Speaking after the game Carl Hales, 38, from Lowestoft, said: “I thought it was great. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, a long, long time. “It’s a great start. We can play better but it’s a great start.”
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Lee Budrey, 31, from Hethersett, said: “It’s been pretty good. I think the DJ was good. It’s a great place to come - the best place you’re going to get in Norwich. It’s nice that people can come together even though have to stay socially distanced. It feels a lot more real after the last year.”
Ashby Stone, 31, from Norwich, said he thought it was “better than going to the pub”. He said: “It’s just nice. Everyone has been on their best behaviour”.
Owen Jones, 30, from Wymondham, only got to the venue just before kick off but said it was a great atmosphere and was “just waiting for the first goal to go in and it really kick off”.
Organiser Daegan Watts, 20, a shareholder in The Arena, said: “The atmosphere has been absolutely electric today.
“I think everyone’s just been glad to get out. It’s nice to see people come back together through football which is what everyone wants - everyone has missed it so much over the past few months.”
He added it had been “a great afternoon for everyone” with “the result everyone wanted”. Three Lions roared out again from everyone as they left The Arena looking forward to the Scotland match next.
Mr Watts said tickets for Friday’s clash with Scotland had already sold out while they were waiting to see what the prime minister said about June 21 before finalising plans for the game with the Czech Republic on June 22.