Football fans paint city red and white as England triumphs against Germany
It was the result that has eluded generations of England fans.
And more than 500 football fans crammed into Preston’s Flag Market this evening to watch Gareth Southgate’s team make history by beating a German side for the first time in a tournament since 1966.
The Post went along to soak up the atmosphere in the city centre.
Ahead of kick-off spirits still remained high as tables of friends and families wrapped their arms around each other and enjoyed the game in the basking sun.
The hundreds of fans, who were sat socially distanced at outdoor tables, appeared elated to be finally watching the game, a year after the Covid-19 pandemic first delayed the competition.
As the outdoor flag market, which was last month transformed into a soccer fan zone broadcasting England’s group games, began to fill up with crowds of local footie lovers, the buzz was undeniable.
Married Fulwood couple Andy and Rose Bradshaw spoke to the Post ahead of the big game about their excitement to be out with their family following a difficult lockdown.
Andy said: “It is just brilliant to be back out again. It is amazing to be sat with our family and I think that what they have done at this event is just brilliant.”
Wife Rose added: “I thought that there would have been more attackers playing today but I hope Southgate knows what he is doing with the players today. I have every faith in us.
“We are so lucky, the weather is wonderful, everyone is in good spirits and this event is just brilliant.”
For Shiva Christian, from Ashton-on-Ribble, it is the first time she has been out socialising with her friends since the last lockdown, after having her baby.
As an avid football fan and England supporter, she said: “It is so good for me to finally be out and about because it's the first time in ages and the atmosphere is amazing.
“I think we are off to a negative start with the players and I expected to see more attackers like Foden on the pitch. I think they are being too cautious which makes me worry so early on in the game.”
Horns finally sounded and drinks were raised in support as England stepped out onto the pitch at 5 pm and the excitement began to rise.
It was a sea of red and white as football fans turned up kitted out in merch.
And throughout the tense first half of game, where the score remained one nil on both sides, the unmistakeable murmur of nerves could still be heard throughout the Flag Market as red-crossed England flags waved in the breeze and pints were served to tables as the sun beat down.
Speaking at halftime, England supporter from Preston, Matt Hesketh talked about the experience of being back out supporting football with friends and the first half of the tense game.
He said: “This has been really good fun so far and it’s great being out with people again, it feels like things are getting back to normal because normally I would’ve been sitting in watching the game with my dad.
“The crowd experience is great too because it has been so long since we have had this, so the atmosphere is electric.
“The first half wasn’t terrible, and there is a lot of defence on the pitch but I feel like this is the system that Southgate has been planning. It is like he is going for a goal-less tournament so the choice of players seems to be doing what he wanted it to do.
“It’s drastically different to last night’s Switzerland game, we have so many great attackers that could be on the pitch but we just have to hope for the best for the second half.”
As the second half kicked off, the mood certainly hadn’t dampened, as fans cheered ‘Super Jack’ in unison after the pure eruption of excitement when attacker Jack Grealish was brought onto the pitch.
And the luck of England fans changed just moments after when drinks were flung high in the air and England shirts were ripped off in the momentous moment when Raheem Sterling scored the first goal against Germany.
The chants ‘it’s coming home!’ would have no doubt been heard throughout the city and for miles further.
That same ecstatic mood was replicated when Harry Kane scored the second goal of the game with a header from the centre of the box. The crowd went wild.
Wardens were on hand throughout the game, at the Flag Market, ensuring that all supporters were staying seated and abiding by the Covid-19 guidelines throughout the match.
By the end of the dramatic evening, fans were descending out of the city centre courtyard with beaming smiles on their faces. It had been a great game for England and an exhilarating evening in Preston.
Speaking after the triumph, Louise Tracey, an avid England supporter added: “The feeling in the air is amazing and you don’t get this type of atmosphere being sat at home.
“There are so many people here and we are all bonding over the same thing - just wanting England to win.
“When there was a goal everybody was loving it and celebrating. It was so patriotic and all the fans were having an amazing time.
“At the start of the game I don’t think any of us thought that we would win to be honest. People love to think that England is going to make it, but we always have that doubt in our hearts but now England is coming home!”
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