England supporters' band 'looking forward' to Russia World Cup despite safety fears

It has been one of the most spoke about World Cup tournaments for a generation - and the talk hasn't been about England's chances on the pitch.

Sunday, 13th May 2018, 9:24 am
Updated Sunday, 13th May 2018, 9:31 am
The England supporters band. John Hemmingham is pictured second from the right.

Stories seem to be published daily about the welcome that awaits Three Lions' supporters in Russia after fans from both teams clashed at the European Championships in France two years ago.

'England fans WILL be targeted in Russia' and 'Fans heading to World Cup in Russia 'told to be quiet as mice - or else' are just two of the latest headlines as the countdown to the sport's showcase competition continues.

But defiant England band leader John Hemmingham, of Sheffield, said he and his fellow band mates were looking forward to flying out and supporting the team just as much as they have done for the previous 22 years.

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John, 55, said: "We are looking forward to it. It will be the sixth World Cup finals we have done and obviously we're a bit concerned but we will be sensible.

"What we have found is that as long as you are sensible then you will be okay. The people we have met at any of the tournaments we've been to have been fine.

"There are always areas and pockets of trouble but if you don't go to those areas, you're fine. In France it all kicked off near the marina in Marseille so we just didn't go there and we were fine."

England will get their tournament underway with a match against Tunisia in Volograd on Monday, June 18 (7pm), before taking on Panama and Belgium.

And John said there was no reason Gareth Southgate's team couldn't go far in the competition, which begins on Thursday, June 14.

"We're going to win the World Cup," he joked.

He added: "We have got world-class players and if they perform their ability - and that's a huge if - then we will be alright. Harry Kane is a world-class striker and as good as anybody so there is no reason he can't help us go a long way."

John and his fellow band mates will fly out to Russia on June 16 and he said they 'hoped to be there for the month' - depending on England's progress in the competition.