Sancho and ponchos! Norfolk England fans brave rain for Ukraine clash
- Credit: Simon Parkin
Excitement is building and nerves jangling for England fans who have packed out pubs across Norfolk and a fan zone in Sprowston to watch the Euro 2020 clash against Ukraine.
After downpours and thunder throughout Saturday, some fans have even donned ponchos over England shirts at The Arena in Sprowston to watch the big game.
The sound of rolling thunder has been drowned out by chants echoing around the venue ahead of the 8pm kick-off in Rome.
Fans there were optimistic the team would progress through the quarter final to meet Denmark in the semis.
Jordan Lord said: “I was here for the Germany game and the atmosphere was great - I think it’ll be just as good tonight, I’m pretty confident. It’ll be 3-0 with goals from Kane and Stirling.”
Lee Nichol said: “I’m feeling very confident. I’m going for a comfortable 4-0. I don’t think it’ll be nervy like Germany. I hope we won't be hanging on."
Ahead of kick off, the DJ belted out Three Lions and the atmosphere built, prompting some lively sing-a-longs.
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Torrential rain which has been seen in the city today held off as fans filled the venue.
Danny Banthorpe, of organisers Ideal Events, said: “We’ve had all weathers so far. The first game was blistering sunshine, then some rain for Scotland and Germany so we gave out ponchos. Hopefully it’ll continue to hold off tonight.
"We’ve opened slightly earlier to allow more time to get in and to watch the earlier game but the rain seems most are coming in later but the excitement is definitely building.”
They have introduced a yellow and red card system for people misbehaving, with a sin bin before people are ejected.
Having ended a 55-year wait for a knockout-tie victory over Germany, England prompted ecstatic scenes at the venue after the last match as chairs were thrown, tables were toppled and pints of beer were hurled into the air.
“We’ve prioritised people who’ve been before and we’ve replaced all the plastic seats with heavier benches," Mr Banthorpe said.
"People were so pumped up for that Germany game. The atmosphere is mellower for this one, probably because we’re favourites this time, but I’m sure it’ll still be intense once kick off arrives.”
Across the rest of the county, many pubs showing the match were already fully booked, with remaining slots being taken quickly.
England are attempting to qualify for their first men's European Championship semi-final for 25 years.
After playing their first four games at Wembley, the match is taking place in Rome.