How fans in Preston watched tonight's World Cup heartbreak

England's World Cup dreams were shattered in extra time in Moscow tonight.

Thursday, 12th July 2018, 12:22 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:08 pm
Fans watch the England match in Preston city centre

A country had hoped and expected after Southgate's men reached the semi-finals against Croatia.

Could they emulate Sir Alf Ramsey's men of 66?

Well, many thought they could and only France stood in their way if they made it through to the final on Saturday.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Fans watch the England match in Preston city centre

The nation was glued to its TV screens at home and in pubs and clubs throughout the land.

At the Bull and Royal, Church Street, Preston, some 400 fans packed into the premises to watch the drama unfold on the seven screens.

But joy turned to heartbreak when, after taking a very early lead through a superb Trippier free kick from the edge of the box, England were taken into extra time with a second half Croatian equaliser and then beaten by a Mandzukic strike in the second half of extra time as the dreaded penalties loomed.

"Gutted," but I'll still be out on Saturday," said Ryan Dunlop, 27, of Bamber Bridge, who had been watching the action in the Bull and Royal.

Fans watch the game in the Bull and Royal

"We've done well to get this far, to be fair.

"It's been the best two weeks of my life - and I'm 27.

"With the atmosphere in town, it's been brilliant. Even flares are going off now."

He was there with his pal, Tom Hall, 27, of Lostock Hall, who also was left "gutted".

He, too, said: "It's the best two weeks we've had. I didn't want it to end.

"We didn't want to lose it."

Another customer, Jessica Baybutt, 23, of Eccleston, said: "The feeling at the mmoent is absolute devastation, but we're so proud.

"I've been crying, I'm so upset."

She was with Barry Maguire, from Doncaster, who said: "In the first half we were the best team. In the second half we let them into it and they grew into it.

"Croatia were there for the taking and we should have beaten them."

Josh Leeming, 27, of Preston, said: "We were good in the first half, poor in the second half.

"He (Southgate) should have changed it in the second half.

"He went defensive, he shouldn't have gone defensive."

Before the start of the game fans were enjoying a pre-match drink and spirits and expectations were high.

Bouncers on the door had stopped people coming into the full-up pub more than half an hour before kick off.

Manager Peter Graham, 35, said: "Every football night has been busier.

"This is early yet, by the time kick off come you can't move in this big telly room.

"Everybody seems confident.

"It's been the same atmosphere throughout the World Cup.

"There's never been any trouble. They've been all singing along with each other."

Three pals having a drink before the game were Curtis Brierley, Adam Elliott and Dan Gillgrass, all 23, of Preston.

Curtis said: "I'm feeling confident. They'll make the final, easy.

"I think after the penalties, confidence is sky high."

Adam said he was "nervous".

"But I feel like we should do it," he said.

"We've come through a lot in this tournament. We weren't expecting much, but just to go from strength to strength."

Dan said: "I'm feeling optimistic, but Croatia are a good side.

"I think we have the mettle to make it through to the final."

He added: "We should beat France. I don't really rate France. I think Belgium would be a tougher game.

"We'll have to wait and see."

Sally McGarth and Laura Barlow, both 24, of Preston, were confident before kick off.

"They're doing all right. They're going to get in the final and I reckon they're going to win," said Sally.

Laura said: "I'm in work at 7am tomorrow and planing Sunday all right.

"But I'm not going to put my hopes too high."

"I woke up this morning and thought yes, we're going to win this. I've got a good feeling about it. It's been a long time coming."

As the game approached extra time, James Mawdsley, 74, of Preston, reflected on the 90 minutes.

"The first half was ours, the second half Croatia took over.

"We've brought Rashford on. Kane has done very little. We're struggling now. I'm hoping but it's looking a bit sad.

"I think they're getting on top a bit.

"They want some fresh legs on, England, a couple of substitutes."

Ryan Dagger, 21, of Preston, said: "If Raheem Sterling could finish it would be a different game

"We''ll get one lucky counter attack and Rashford will score.

"They (Croatia) have got world class players in midfield."