Match of the day as pub couple wed
PUBLISHED: 09:06 22 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:04 22 October 2010
It was a night of violence that shocked a community and earned Thetford unwanted headlines nationwide. But the wounds of one of Norfolk's worst disturbances looked more than healed yesterday as the English and Portuguese managers of the Red Lion looked ahead to their wedding day.
It was a night of violence that shocked a community and earned Thetford unwanted headlines nationwide.
But the wounds of one of Norfolk's worst disturbances looked more than healed yesterday as the English and Portuguese managers of the Red Lion looked ahead to their wedding day.
Clair West and Benvindo Ramos met days after that night of football-related trouble two years ago, which left the town's Portuguese population frightened and local people ashamed to be English.
But the couple, who have been running the Market Place pub for nearly a year, said the two communities were more united than ever since Euro 2004.
The landlords will prove that love is stronger than footballing rivalries next month when they tie the knot on the day before the World Cup final.
Both Thetford communities were in a jubilant mood last night following Portugal's 2-1 victory over Mexico and England's qualification to the knockout stages on Tuesday night. The results pave the way for a possible quarter-final clash and a repeat of Euro 2004.
But Miss West said she wasn't expecting a repeat of the problems of two years ago, when a mob of around 300 hooligans hurled missiles and abuse at a group of 40 Portuguese men, women and children, following England's penalties defeat.
Around 25 people received lengthy prison and community punishments as a result of the drink-fuelled assaults on Red Lion patrons and police on June 24.
Miss West, 33, who was born and bred in Thetford, said she was "disgusted" by the events outside the pub, which was an "isolated" incident.
"I think things have healed over. A lot of English people were horrified by what happened and now the Red Lion is a place where many different cultures can come together. Now there is a nice, happy mix."
"In a way, I think England and Portugal have to play to prove that it will not happen again. If we do play, I think we will support both sides," she said.
Mr Ramos, 29, from Lisbon, was an employee of the Portuguese-run pub, when he met his future wife at the Green Dragon public house, opposite the Red Lion, shortly after the trouble of Euro 2004.
Six months later they were engaged and took over the running of the pub in August 2005.
Mr Ramos said: "We knew that the last manager was leaving and we thought we could bring the two communities together.
"People said we would never get English people coming to the pub. It did take a long while, but we get more Portuguese people in the day and more English on a Friday and Saturday night."
The couple, who have nine- year-old Jordon and five-year- old Leandro from previous relationships, will marry on July 8 at a registry service at Thetford Grammar School.
Miss West said the date of the wedding was unintentional.
"We were planning to get married on the May bank holiday, but because we took over the business, we had to take a step back and change the date.
"I thought the World Cup would have been over by then and I did not realise the final was the next day," she said.
Dozens of Portuguese, young and old, packed into the Red Lion yesterday to watch their side record a narrow win against Mexico.
The atmosphere was much more like a continental café with fans enjoying coffee and a meal before goals from Maniche and Simao Sabrosa got the crowd cheering. The supporters were left biting their nails during a nervy ending, which set up a possible quarter-final game against England.
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