England fans pack out pubs in Sheffield to watch Euro 2020 opener against Croatia
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The beer was flowing, there was a sea of red and white, and optimism filled the air as supporters gathered to watch the start of England’s latest bid for glory against the team which crushed their hopes at the last World Cup.
The Clubhouse on London Road, just outside the city centre, would usually have been packed with around 500 fans for a game of this magnitude but Covid restrictions meant capacity was down to about a third of that.
However, the atmosphere was still buzzing as those who had managed to grab a table braced themselves for the invevitable highs and lows which come with following England on the international stage.
Speaking ahead of the game, most fans were confident about England’s chances in the tournament, with several backing England to go all the way and end their long wait for a trophy should their exciting midfield talents like Foden, Mount and Grealish live up to their potential.
Mostly, though, they were just glad to be back in the pub with their friends, soaking up the atmosphere, after the pandemic had put the tournament and get-togethers of any kind on hold for so long.
Les Krelle said: “If England get to the last 16 and win that match, I think they’ll go on to win the tournament.”
Ethan Slater was equally optimistic, saying: “I think we’re going to win it, and Phil Foden could be the key man for England. It’s class to be back in the pub watching England.”
Shaun Austin was a bit more cautious but still had high hopes.
"I’m pretty positive but it depends on the selection. I think our central attacking midfielders, Grealish, Mount and Foden, are key,” he said.
"It’s been worth the wait to be here in the pub watching because the atmosphere’s so much better than watching at home.”
Jacob Harrison thought it would be a familiar tale, with England promising much but failing to go all the way.
"I think they’ll make it to the semi-finals. Foden and Grealish could make the difference for us,” he said.