While England’s World Cup campaign could take one step closer to ending 52 years of hurt today, there’s one rather different aspect of the English efforts that is getting the public’s attention – waistcoats.
And one man’s waistcoat in particular.
The success of Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions has thrown the manager into the limelight, not only for his tactical nous and reinvention of the national team, but also for his fashion sense.
Marks & Spencer, the official supplier of England’s World Cup kit, have reported a 35 per cent surge in waistcoat sales since the tournament started – coinciding with images of Southgate’s tailored two-piece being plastered across social media and the front and back of newspapers.
With this in mind, this reporter took to the streets of Preston to find out just how much of a buzz there is in the city towards ‘the Southgate waistcoat’.
But before that, it was only appropriate to get kitted out in homage to the former Middlesborough FC captain.
The Post’s friends at Slaters menswear in Fishergate kindly donated some of their high quality garms for the day.
“To see more outfits like this is always a good thing,” explained Slaters stylist John Beaumont.
And while Blackpool-native John admitted he isn’t a football fan, he added: “It’s promoting a smart image to younger men watching to look smart too.
“It’s an example of what clothes can do for people’s image.”
Store manager is Corrado Agnola, an Italian fashionista who moved to Preston 11 years ago for his Prestonian wife Johanne.
“He’s a very smart guy,” the Milan native said, who is supporting England – his “second team” thanks to wife Johanne.
“It looks more professional. I think it’s always good when a manager is a bit smarter and not in a tracksuit or T-shirt. He’s doing a great job managing England and also with his image.”
Regarding the boom in waistcoat popularity, Corrado explained: “It’s already trendy anyway, wearing a waistcoat, but hopefully lifting the World Cup with a waistcoat on will make it even more so!”
After half an hour of deciding on the best colours and fits, I was ready to hit the streets – armed with some spare waistcoats for other Southgate enthusiasts to don by my side.
Two passersby, Marge Bourne and her son Keith, were more than happy to get into the spirit.
Marge, 70, said: “I like the way he comes across. I’m 70 though so a little bit traditional in what I like; I grew up in a time where my dad wore waistcoats on a daily basis.”
Son Keith, 47, added: “He’s a good manager and looks good. I reckon if he was to add a pocket watch it would be an improvement though!”
The Post also came across possibly Preston’s youngest English Lionheart, 15-month-old Shams Raja.
The toddler could be seen putting her support behind waistcoat fever, donning a rather oversized one on the Flag Market.
Mum Samar Raja, 36, explained how she has been watching the games with her football-mad family back in Fulwood and thinks the gaffer looks very smart.
But she added: “I don’t know if we can win it!”
Down Fishergate the Post spoke to brother and sister Pablo and Gabby McDonald-Romero and friend Michael Martin – who were more than happy to don England hats and Southgate-inspired waistcoats.
Pablo, who was already wearing a classic England away top from 2006, said “Southgate looks great” ahead of the crunch clash at 3pm today against Sweden.
Dr Robert Demir has lived in Lancashire for the last two and a half years after moving from Stockholm to work at Lancaster University.
Ahead of the quarter-final clash between Sweden and England, he spoke to The Post about his thoughts on the game.
“There’s been a lot of friendly rivalry for sure,” the 46-year-old explained.
“Being on campus, there is such an international environment, so there’s been some between myself, Germans, Portuguese, English, and more.”
He said the match-up against Germany was good but the game tomorrow should be even better.
“I don’t dare go into a pub though,” he joked.
Robert will be watching the game with wife Ema, 15-year-old son Josef and daughters Sara, 13, and Ester, 11.
“For the children it’s probably even tougher because of the school playground aspect of it,” the Lecturer in Strategic Management said.
“I think we have a good chance. It’s a strong team and most of all they seem to be extremely well coordinated which is a relief.
“I asked Siri this morning who will win and she said England will by 0.5 goals so who knows what that means.
“I just don’t want any penalties!”
WHERE YOU CAN WATCH THE BIG GAME
Preston’s Bull and Royal claims to have the biggest screen of any pub in Lancashire, having splashed out £20,000 for a 17-foot monster.
“It’s without a shadow of a doubt the biggest one in town,” said pub owner Peter Clark. “In fact the guy who fitted it told me it’s the biggest one in both size and quality outside London.”
But the city centre boozer will still face stiff competition from pubs across Preston and beyond as World Cup fever grabs the nation this afternoon.
The Guild Hall is not showing the game, despite putting up a huge screen for England’s first two group games. The venue is now staging snooker qualifiers.
Here are some of the places you can see the big game (with most of them laying on drink and food offers to get fans through the door):
Preston - Adelphi, Roper Hall, Hogarths, Yates, Bear’s Paw, Wings and Beer Co, Old Vic, Wheatsheaf at Ashton, Lane Ends at Ashton, Baffito’s on the Docks.
South Ribble: Golden Ball, Black Bull, Red Lion and Ram’s Head all Longton; Black Horse, Broadfield Arms, Queens all Leyland; Pump and Truncheon in Bamber Bridge, Talbot at Euxton, Wishing Well at Tardy Gate, Fleece, Black Bull Inn and Pear Tree, all Penwortham, Anchor at Hutton.
Chorley: George, Rose and Crown, Applejax, Pearsons, Lamplighter. White Bull.
MILLIONS WILL WATCH AT HOME - WITH A BARBECUE
READ MORE: Supermarkets stocking up for sales bonanza of beer and barbecue food
The great summer weather will tempt many football fans to swerve the pub and watch this afternoon’s game from home, with plenty of food and drink to make their own World Cup party.
The England team’s progress, coupled with the continuing hot spell, means supermarkets and high street butchers alike will be under siege today as customers stock up for a barbecue.
The big stores are predicting a multi-million pound boost this weekend, with Tesco alone expecting to sell more than 1m burgers, 1m hotdog rolls, 6m ice lollies, 1m tubs of ice cream,almost 50m bottles or cans of beer and close on 1m bottles of wine.
At Waitrose beer sales are 70 per cent up on the same week last year, with sparkling wine up 45 per cent, burgers up 55 per cent and sausages up 20 per cent.
Sainsbury’s is predicting it will see a 40 per cent increase on sales of pizza, crisps, dips and party snacks by the end of today.
But it isn’t just the big chains who are being trampled in the World Cup party rush. Local butchers are reporting a huge increase in trade, although most won’t know for sure until close of business today.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be a belting day,” said Chris Brown of the world famous Brown’s Butchers in Chorley.
“We have tried to pre-empt what the demand will be and we have enough to make sure we won’t run out. We will make a standard amount of sausages, but we will then make as we need as the day goes on.”
Brother Tim, who is in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s fastest sausage maker, will be on hand to bang out the bangers so supply can meet demand.
SUNSHINE OR GLOOM?
11am: Glorious sunshine. 19C
12am: Partly sunny. 23C
2pm: Chance of nerves. 24C
3pm: Time for destiny. 25C
4pm: Pressure rising. 25C
5pm: Celebration/comisseration time 25C
9pm: Chance of drunkeness
9am Strong change of hangover
Rest of the day - sunny 26C
SWEDISH PHRASES WHICH MIGHT COME IN HANDY
READ MORE: 41 Swedish football phrases to learn before the England match
Vem ar du - Who are ya?
Vilken hemsk kit - What an awful kit.
Rygg pa natet - Back of the net.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Ha ha ha.
Dyka - Dive!
Rott kort domare? - Red card ref?.
Pa din cykel - On yer bike!
Domaren ar blind - The ref’s blind.
Hur ar det en straff - How is that a penalty?
Gick ner som han blev skjuten - Went down like he’d been shot.
Sta upp din mjukvara - Get up you softie.
Strafflaggning - Penalty shoot-out
Hejda Svenskarna - Bye bye Swedes.
Det kommer hem - It’s coming home.
A CUT ABOVE
Lancashire hairdresser Simon Townley has styled four of the England squad - and manager Gareth Southgate - ready for their big game today.
Simon flew out to Russia this week to do his “regulars” - Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Jack Butland and Nick Pope - but ended up giving the gaffer a cut too.
But there was no match ticket for the talent stylist - he flew back yesterday and was in his shop this morning for usual the Saturday rush.
Meanwhile a Blackpool tram driver got into the spirt of the World Cup this week by changing the destination board on his vehicle to read “It’s coming home.”