England v Italy: Penistone Church FC ready to roar on Euro 2020 local hero John Stones
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Barnsley-born John Stones started out as a seven-year-old at Penistone Church and there will not be a spare seat in the clubhouse, nor the marquee, when the Three Lions take on Italy at Wembley.
Club secretary David Hampshire, who played alongside Stones’ dad Peter for their local club, told the PA news agency: “The residents behind us better get ready if we win because the party will go long into the night.
“The atmosphere has been absolutely brilliant. I’ve just had a friend asking for a seat and I said, ‘no, I can’t get you in’. We’re packed to the rafters, not a space to be had for Sunday night.”
Penistone Church are revelling in the role local hero Stones has played in England’s success.
The former Barnsley defender has spent more minutes on the pitch for Gareth Southgate’s side than any other outfield player.
ITV Calendar’s news crew captured the celebrations at Penistone Church as England clinched their place in the final against Denmark on Wednesday night.
“I’ve no doubt Calendar might be back, Look North might want to come, or we might get Channel 5 and ITV news,” Hampshire said.
“The Calendar lads were sat at the back with their cameras, they said it was superb. They couldn’t believe how good it was in the marquee.”
The young Stones had not been playing at Penistone Church for long before the Barnsley scouts came calling.
“They really taught him everything he knows now,” Hampshire said. “They brought him up brilliant. You could see as a young lad he had the talent.
“I’ve been asked if I thought he’d play for England and you just can’t tell at under-7s can you?
“It’s brilliant to see John, coming from Penistone Church Football Club and then playing for England and now going to play in the Euros final. It doesn’t get much better than that does it?
“The exposure we’re getting is unbelievable. We had Calendar here for the semi-final. I had to turn down Channel 5 and ITV News.
“We’re not sure who’s coming next, but it’s been superb for the club I’ve got to say and it’s great for the kids to see the TV cameras coming.”
England stand on the brink of winning a major tournament for the first time in 55 years and as excitement reaches fever pitch a whole nation expects.
“I was fortunate enough to see the 1966 World Cup final as a nine-year-old,” Hampshire added. “So to see an England team win a major tournament again would be brilliant.
“And to see a lad who started with Penistone Church Football Club win would be extraordinary. We wish John all the very best.”