Football is coming home to Swanage! With flags up across the town and several venues showing the big match, the England football team can be assured of noisy support in this corner of Dorset for the European finals.
If the shouting isn’t as loud as might have been expected, it’s because Covid restrictions mean limited capacities at the clubs and pubs showing the match. Many places are already fully booked or members only events.
It’s England’s first major championship finals since Bobby Moore lifted the World Cup 55 years ago. As then, the final is at Wembley, kicking off at 8 pm on Sunday 11th July 2021.
Many of the town’s shops have got in on the act
Staking a claim for a seat
Back in 1966, Geoff Hurst scored a hat trick against the then West Germany in a thrilling 4-2 win in extra time. This time the opponents are Italy.
Beverly Shoubridge, manager of the White Horse Inn in the High Street, expects people to be staking out a claim to their seat for hours beforehand.
She said they have been putting flags up inside and outside and the excitement is growing:
“We’re not doing any bookings. It’s on a first come first served basis. So get in early.”
Fans at The White Horse Inn get in the spirit
“The place is buzzing!”
David Elm, Swanage Royal British Legion club steward, said they have been swamped with people wanting to see the game, so they are offering it on a first come first served basis. With a reduced capacity of about 130, they have a big projector in the main bar and other screens dotted around.
“It’s coming home! We have shown every game so far and we are fully behind the team. The place is buzzing!”
The British Legion Club with a projector ready for the fans
“England shouldn’t have been so good!”
Ironically, one place they won’t be showing the football is at the Swanage Town and Herston Football Club where refurbishment means the clubhouse is out of action.
A spokesman said:
“We can’t use the clubhouse at the moment because we’re carrying out maintenance work to get it up to standard for the start of the season.
“It would have been nice to show the match but it’s one of those things. England shouldn’t have been so good and the problem wouldn’t have arisen!”
It’s England’s first shot at a major title for 55 years
“A lot of interest”
The cricket club on the other hand will be showing the game: inside the clubhouse for a limited number of about 30 members and, weather permitting, outside on a television as an overflow.
Chris Wood, barman, said:
“We showed all the other matches and they’ve generated a lot of interest, so we are really looking forward to the final.”
The White Swan in the High Street flies the flag
Nobody expected England to get to the finals
Lennon Yates, manager of East Bar, said they are already fully booked. The bar started taking bookings after the semi-finals.
“A lot of the people who are coming have been with us since the group stage of the competition so we’ve given them priority for supporting us in these hard times.
“Everyone here knows everyone else so there’s a great atmosphere. Nobody really expected England to get to the finals. It’s fantastic.”
Numbers are limited by Covid restrictions
“The whole country is behind them”
Because of Covid restrictions, capacity has had to be reduced at East Bar to about 60 people. Lennon admits this has detracted from the usual atmosphere when, in previous years, people used to pack in to see a big game.
But he added:
“It’s great that everyone is so supportive. I think the whole country is behind them. The team’s looking good. They’re all together and the management seems to be there too.
“We’ve had some terrific games. I think the Denmark game was the hardest but we managed to really pull together and bring it off. I think it’s looking good for the final. I think we can go all the way.”
The big question: Can England repeat the success of 1966 at Wembley?
Looking to avoid the football?
At the Conservative Club they are expecting a full house but it is a members only event with the football showing in the function room and the main bar and the whole place festooned with England flags.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to avoid the football there’s always The Red Lion. They won’t be showing the game, as they don’t have any TVs!
Emma McCaulay, manager, said:
“We don’t show any live sports. We are just a place for good traditional food and drinks!”