Euro 2020: How did St Albans mark England's heartbreaking clash with Italy?
- Credit: Karyn Haddon
It may not have been the result we wanted, but there's still a lot to celebrate about England's performance in Euro 2020, as Gareth Southgate's boys did us proud throughout the tournament.
Ahead of Sunday's decisive match with Italy, pubs across St Albans welcomed as many fans as they could accommodate under the ongoing social distancing restrictions.
That included the likes of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, where there was a big screen in the beer garden, and The Mermaid, which operated a first-come, first-served approach when it came to allocating tables, leading to queues along Hatfield Road in the hours before the big game.
YOFC landlord Christo Tofalli said: "What a tournament. It was a shame restrictions didn’t ease as it would have helped enormously with the debt we have taken in during the pandemic, losing 1,200 tickets plus the drink sales added up to £100,000. This isn’t a complaint it’s just the way it was. I am more happy we had a trouble free and thoroughly enjoyable but heartbreaking experience. It had everything, wasn’t it good though!
Either way, no complaints, even though the challenges with numbers we did the best we possibly could have done so congratulations to all that managed to get tickets along with our amazing team that delivered new technology to cope with table service, it worked well too. Phew!
"The Euros gave us all the emotions, it showed that this country lives and breathes football in the most part anyway. We had anyone from the guy down the road to professional rugby and basketball ball players, we had netball players, St Albans FC ladies, actors, councillors and even the Mayor.
"That’s a pub in its true form and why they are special. All had the passion and proudness to watch our team play. This only happens at all major international football tournaments, all people, all faiths, all teams with one goal, bringing it home! It was not to be this time, our legends will come home with heads held high and will always be champions to me!"
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Meanwhile it wasn't just the pubs that were showing the game, with residents of Allington Court care home enjoying a somewhat more restrained viewing, gathering with England flags and football shirts to show their support for the squad.
While football fans across the country basked in the glory of watching their first ever English Euros final, some residents likened the event to the World Cup final they saw 55 years ago.
Resident Donald Hurst recalled: “I remember watching England win the World Cup final in 1966. It was a fantastic atmosphere and the sense of comradery from both football fans and non-supporters was unmatched – until yesterday!”
The tense match had resident Kenneth Bloggs on the edge of his seat, and he also recalled memories of '66: “I worked in the Metropolitan Police Force in 1966. I was on duty the day of the World Cup at Wembley Stadium and the atmosphere was electric, with so many fans in attendance and all so well behaved.”
Home manager Santina House added: “We have a few avid football fans in the home, but even those who don’t regularly enjoy watching the sport were keen to get involved this weekend. Everyone was truly in the football spirit and cheered on England. There was as much passion from our residents and carers as there was at Wembley.”
Mount Carmel Kindergarten nursery school, which is owned by an Italian family, started the build-up to the game by inviting all the children to wear their favourite football shirts to nursery and practice ball skills in the garden.
But there were no doubts as to what side they were backing to win, as owner Lucia Federici said: "On Sunday we set up our television in the garden so as to accommodate the whole family of around 20 people. Fortunately our next door neighbours were also partying and supporting England so before and during the game there was lots of friendly team chanting going on from either side of the fence.
"It could have gone either way but to our delight Italy won on penalties and our house erupted into screams and singing as we celebrated outside in the street. In true sporting fashion many of our neighbours came out to congratulate us for the Italian win and we felt very grateful to have such a community of good spirited neighbours in our road.
"To our surprise we saw that the photo of the giant Italian football shirt draped across our house had gone viral on Twitter, Reddit and Sky News."