Thetford communities up for the Cup
PUBLISHED: 07:30 27 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 22 October 2010
Two communities were looking forward to a friendly World Cup atmosphere last night ahead of this weekend's England-Portugal quarterfinal clash.
Two communities were looking forward to a friendly World Cup atmosphere last night ahead of this weekend's England-Portugal quarter-final clash.
Norfolk's large Portuguese population was left stunned two years ago after violence erupted outside a Thetford pub after England's Euro 2004 defeat.
But community leaders and police chiefs are not anticipating a repeat performance of the football related trouble, which earned the town unwanted national headlines.
Portuguese settlers in Thetford and Dereham were gearing up for the big quarter-final game on Saturday by declaring a love for their national team and England.
Joao Noronha, from the Multi-lingual European Thetford Association (META), said the migrant population felt divided about who to support because ties were much stronger between the Portuguese and English.
"People have local neighbours, local friends, and local wives and they feel more integrated. We never know what is going to happen on Saturday, but there is a general feeling in Thetford that nothing bad is going to happen this time and they are quite
confident things will go smoothly," he said.
This weekend's World Cup game will be the first time England and Portugal have played since a mob of 300 England hooligans hurled abuse and missiles at the Portuguese patrons of the Red Lion pub, in Thetford, after their side's defeat in Euro 2004.
Landlords of the Green Dragon and the Red Lion, in the Market Place, are planning to swap shirts and flags before the kick-off on Saturday to show the good relations between the two communities.
Chief Insp Carl Edwards for Norfolk Police said there would be extra officers on patrol in all of the county's market towns, but it would be "discreet".
"The police will be in a position to act should there be any problems on Saturday, but the message is really for everyone to enjoy themselves and to drink responsibly.
"I think integration between the Portuguese and the English communities has definitely improved after what happened two years ago in Thetford. I was in the Red Lion for last weekend's game and things were fine.
"The Portuguese were congratulating to English for getting through and vice versa. There was much more of an atmosphere of celebrating together," he said.
Town councillor Pauline Quadling added: "Everyone is worried about the media stirring things up, but everyone is happy and wishing for a friendly day."
The Portuguese community in Dereham is also looking forward to the game. High Street delicatessen owner Francisco Nobre said he would be supporting both teams.
"As long as they both play well it doesn't really matter who wins. If Portugal win, I'm happy. If England win, I'm also happy. I think the two communities get on very well in Dereham. And anyway, it's only a game."
Tania Lapa, who works at the Portuguese Twin Brothers restaurant, added: "They are both my country. I don't mind who wins."
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