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Thousands of England fans start the journey to Germany by plane, bus and ferry – taking their St George’s flags with them ahead of team’s first Euros match tomorrow night

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Thousands of England fans start the journey to Germany by plane, bus and ferry – taking their St George’s flags with them ahead of team’s first Euros match tomorrow night

Thousands of England fans have started their journey to watch the Three Lions’ first Euros game in Germany tomorrow night, taking with them their St George’s flags and necking plenty of pints on the way. 

Gareth Southgate’s side will kick off their much-anticipated summer campaign against Serbia on Sunday in Gelsenkirchen, with an estimated 40,000 England fans expected to descend on the German city in the next two days. 

Supporters have begun travelling in their droves, with dozens of Brits from across the country making the journey by plane, bus and ferry, along with their personalised St George’s flags, ready for a night of booze fueled antics. 

Others who have already made the trip across Europe were keen to get the pints flowing as fans were yesterday spotted necking beers, downing shots with German pensioners and chanting football anthems. 

German police are anticipating as many as 300,000 supporters from Scotland and England will make the journey over to Germany for the month-long tournament.

A group of Southampton FC fans have taken the decision to travel by plane to watch the Three Lions’ first Euros game in Germany tomorrow night

A couple of Millwall supporters have also chosen to travel by train for England's match against Serbia on Sunday in Gelsenkirchen

A couple of Millwall supporters have also chosen to travel by train for England’s match against Serbia on Sunday in Gelsenkirchen

English and Halesowen Town supporters enjoy drinks at Heathrow Airport ahead of flying to Dusseldorf for the Euros

English and Halesowen Town supporters enjoy drinks at Heathrow Airport ahead of flying to Dusseldorf for the Euros

This group of Palace fans have already got the pints flowing in the city of Gelsenkirchen

This group of Palace fans have already got the pints flowing in the city of Gelsenkirchen

Some QPR supporters were also keen to show some support for their local side having already arrived in Germany ahead of the game

Some QPR supporters were also keen to show some support for their local side having already arrived in Germany ahead of the game

Fan chiefs say the huge support – mirrored by an estimated 200,000 Scotland fans who have also made the journey – is down to the tournament being the first foreign competition within a short travelling distance from the UK since manager Gareth Southgate took over to revitalise England in 2016. 

And as fans tucked in to the Pils in Gelsenkirchen, where the team play Serbia tomorrow night, and the larger neighbouring city of Essen, supporters back home were also stocking up on beer for the big match.

Tesco alone said it expected to sell 33 million packs of beer and cider over the coming month – on top of 5.5 million bottles and cans of ‘no’ and ‘low’ alcohol options – as well as 11 million pies.

At the team’s base camp, England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford told the media the squad’s ‘goal’ was to ‘lift that trophy and bring it home’.

In Gelsenkirchen, fans were filmed singing Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline – the song that became the soundtrack to England’s run to the final of Euro 2020 at Wembley.

Peter Sirrell, 59, from Reading, flew from Heathrow to Dusseldorf and then took a taxi to Gelsenkirchen but said: ‘To be honest, it’s a bit like Slough – not that charming.’

Mike Hartley 30, Kent, flew out to the city this morning with friends and said he was surprised there were not more fans milling around the city. 

Speaking at city’s GE-Piazza, Mr Hartley said: ‘It’s getting louder and louder though and so far it’s all brilliant. We are hoping England can win it, they really should.’

‘We came out this morning we are staying for the England match.’

Supporters for Maltby FC were spotted taking the ferry across to France before eventually making their way to Germany

Supporters for Maltby FC were spotted taking the ferry across to France before eventually making their way to Germany

Stockport FC fans pictured on their way to Germany via ferry

Stockport FC fans pictured on their way to Germany via ferry

One Millwall fan showed off their personalised St George's flag on social media ahead of their trip to Germany

One Millwall fan showed off their personalised St George’s flag on social media ahead of their trip to Germany

England fans have already started piling into Germany ahead of their Euros campaign. Father and son Paul and Joe Watt (pictured) - Bury fans from Manchester - are on their first Euro away

England fans have already started piling into Germany ahead of their Euros campaign. Father and son Paul and Joe Watt (pictured) – Bury fans from Manchester – are on their first Euro away

One group of lads hold their St George's flag while on their way to Germany via the Eurotunnel

One group of lads hold their St George’s flag while on their way to Germany via the Eurotunnel

England and Scotland fans pictured leaving Heathrow for Germany on Friday

England and Scotland fans pictured leaving Heathrow for Germany on Friday

Another keen England fan has already decorated their room in Duisburg, Germany, with a St George's flag ahead of Sunday's match

Another keen England fan has already decorated their room in Duisburg, Germany, with a St George’s flag ahead of Sunday’s match

A square in Gelsenkirchen pictured ahead of the first game in the city - England versus Serbia on Sunday

A square in Gelsenkirchen pictured ahead of the first game in the city – England versus Serbia on Sunday

England fans in Dusseldorf have already been on the beers ahead of the Three Lions game against Serbia on Sunday

England fans in Dusseldorf have already been on the beers ahead of the Three Lions game against Serbia on Sunday

English supporters Joe rumsey, 39 and Ryan Bami who are flying out from Heathrow to Germany for the UEFA Euro 2024 football competition

English supporters Joe rumsey, 39 and Ryan Bami who are flying out from Heathrow to Germany for the UEFA Euro 2024 football competition

In Essen, bars around Kennedyplatz filled up with expectant fans throughout the afternoon. 

The square in the middle of the city – where many fans stay because accommodation is more plentiful, and therefore cheaper, than in Gelsenkirchen – will become a fan zone for the duration of the tournament with a big screen and stadium-style seating for supporters to watch all of the matches, including last night’s curtain-raiser between the host nation and Scotland.

The Tartan Army are estimated to number around 200,000 and yesterday swamped the Marianplatz fan zone in Munich’s Old Town. 

Uefa warned people to stay away from the 25,000-capacity fan zone because it was crammed and metro trains were no longer stopping at Marienplatz.

A group of 11 friends who met at school have travelled from their hometown of Fleetwood, Lancashire, via Amsterdam to take in the first game – paying between £110 and £337 for their match ticket.

Milan Roseta, 22, said: ‘I think we are going to win – you can’t take the performance against Iceland (last week) seriously – that was just a friendly.

‘I believe in my nation – why can’t we win it? They are a well-gelled team but we won’t bring it home if people do not believe in them.’

But his friend Bronson Boyd, also 22, was less confident. While he described the English attack as a ‘well-oiled Ferrari’ he said the defence is ‘like a Ford Fiesta in need of a service’.

A couple of England fans got to Germany early to take in the atmosphere ahead of this weekend's match

A couple of England fans got to Germany early to take in the atmosphere ahead of this weekend’s match

England fans were pictured over the last day or so downing shots with locals and drinking pints

England fans were pictured over the last day or so downing shots with locals and drinking pints 

England's match does not kick off until Sunday night but that has not stopped Three Lions fans enjoying a few drinks on Friday

England’s match does not kick off until Sunday night but that has not stopped Three Lions fans enjoying a few drinks on Friday

England supporters pictured chanting and drinking alcohol at a bar in Germany on Friday

England supporters pictured chanting and drinking alcohol at a bar in Germany on Friday

One England fan said he had been dumped by his partner of 15 years after ignoring an ultimatum not to travel to travel to Germany for England’s first two matches.

Jeremy Smith, 44, travelled with a friend, their two sons and Mr Smith’s nephew to take both the match against Serbia and next week’s second fixture against Denmark in Frankfurt.

But Mr Smith, from South London, told MailOnline it was ‘country before bird’ when it came to choosing his partner over the football.

‘I’ve spent the last few nights sleeping at my friend’s house,’ he said as he supped his first Pils since arriving in Essen this morning.

Mr Smith refused to name his partner but said: ‘She told me: “If you go for a week you’re gone”. So I said “alright, I’m gone”. I was with her for 15 years but she told me Russia (2018 World Cup) was my last foreign tournament. I’d rather support England than have a Mrs.’

While the car salesman was not optimistic about rekindling his relationship, Mr Smith was more upbeat about the England team’s chances, declaring: ‘We will take it home.

Father-and-son Mark and Tom Stoneham, arrived on Thursday and are staying in Essen until Tuesday, taking in the Italy versus Albania clash tomorrow in nearby Dortmund before watching England the following night.

Mr Stoneham, a retired oil industry worker from Arundel, West Sussex, said: ‘I come with a group of friends from my university days and we all bring our kids. This one’s a bit easier to get to than Qatar and Russia.

England supporters pictured singing anthems at a pub in Germany before Sunday's match against Serbia

England supporters pictured singing anthems at a pub in Germany before Sunday’s match against Serbia

Fan chiefs say the huge support is down to the tournament being the first foreign competition within a short travelling distance from the UK since manager Gareth Southgate took over

Fan chiefs say the huge support is down to the tournament being the first foreign competition within a short travelling distance from the UK since manager Gareth Southgate took over

England fans stood up and drank in Germany in anticipation of the first group stage game this weekend

England fans stood up and drank in Germany in anticipation of the first group stage game this weekend

It may be two days until the big match but Three Lions supporters crowded pubs in Germany on Friday

It may be two days until the big match but Three Lions supporters crowded pubs in Germany on Friday

‘If England don’t win the Euros with this squad then they never will,’ the 63-year-old said. His son, 29, was equally confident, adding: ‘We can definitely win it.’

Tesco beer and cider buying manager James Renshaw said the firm predicted the highest-ever demand for no and low alcohol beer and cider for a major football tournament, based on growth in the sector over the last year.

He said: ‘We also know from previous tournaments that on days when home teams play, demand for beer, wine, pizzas and other snacks rockets and continues to rise with each successive round.’

Asda said it expects to sell 14 million units of Budweiser over the coming four weeks and shift more than 25,000 large-screen, ultra-high-definition TVs.

Police warn of possible rise in domestic abuse

Police have warned of a potential rise in domestic abuse as England play Serbia in their first game of the European football championship on Sunday.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said a study from Lancaster University found there was a 38% increase in domestic violence incidents when England lost a game between 2002 and 2010, and a 26% rise when they won.

Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe, NPCC lead for domestic abuse, said she wanted to make victims of domestic abuse aware of the support available to them during the tournament and encouraged anyone who suffered abuse to report it to police immediately.

Ms Rolfe also cited findings by Sussex Police during the 2022 world cup, which showed that 999 calls relating to domestic abuse ‘doubled’ during match days.

She said: ‘I’m keen to ensure that victims of domestic abuse are aware of the support available to them, encouraged to report to police, and that every perpetrator is held to account.’

Teresa Parker, head of media at the charity Women’s Aid, said that women and their children staying at refuges would not want to have the TV on during England games because of their past experiences.

Ms Parker said: ‘We were being told by women in refuges across the country that they would not have the TV on during major tournaments. For so many families it triggers the feeling that something worse might happen.

‘I spoke to three women whose partners love football and were abusive in long-term relationships. Football was a trigger.’

Asked what measures the police plan to use during the tournament to ensure women’s safety, Ms Rolfe said:  ‘We want to work out who the abusers are that we want to manage and we’ll be using domestic violence protection orders and restraint orders to do so throughout the tournament.

‘Sussex Police are organising joint patrols, where officers responding to incidents will have an independent domestic violence advocate with them so that the victim has many options available to them.’

M&S said sales of dips and ‘picky bits’ rose 15 per cent ahead of the first matches.

Pickford, 30, told reporters at an FA media conference: ‘Everyone in the country will be rooting for us and I know they’ll be having a good few days on the booze.

‘Everyone’s goal is to lift that trophy. But it takes a hell of a lot of hard work to get there.

‘The most important thing for us is to win the first game, get out of the group and focus on each game as it comes because you can’t look too far ahead.’

Ambulance services are also calling on public support to help them manage the demand through the championships.

They say it could all kick off and their 999 emergency crews will face a backlash as fans either celebrate or drown their sorrows. 

South East Coast Ambulance (SECamb) says it often sees an increase in demand after the final whistle in key matches.

During Euros 2020, it received around 50 per cent more 999 calls in the hour following England’s semi final victory.

Emma Williams, SECAmb Executive Director of Operations said: ‘We appreciate that many people will choose to watch the match at the pub or at home with friends.

‘If people choose to drink alcohol while watching then, as ever, we urge them to be sensible and look after themselves and others to lessen the likelihood of having to call for our help.

‘Just a few avoidable calls in an area can significantly impact on our ability to respond to other local emergencies quickly.’

SECAmb is asking the public to only phone 999 for a serious emergency.

But if the excitement gets too much, people should also not ignore symptoms such as chest pain during a nail-biting game.

Emma said ‘We know that many people will be looking forward to the Euros and to cheering on their country of choice over the coming weeks.

‘We also know that significant football matches can have an impact on the demand we face with often an immediate uplift in calls at the final whistle.

‘Anyone who is facing a genuine emergency shouldn’t hesitate to call us but we know that many people who choose to call us after a game has finished could get help and advice from a more appropriate service such as NHS 111.’

In the build-up to the tournament, Mark Dittmer-Odell, the British Consul-General in Munich, said: ‘We are estimating that 500,000 fans will travel from the UK and up to 200,000 could be Scotland fans’.

Thomas Concannon of the Football Supporters Association’s Free Lions fanzine for England fans, said: ‘Euro 2024 is a big opportunity for England fans to once again travel in our thousands to an international tournament. 

‘It is fantastic that we are able to do it in a country that celebrates football fan culture as much as we do back home.

‘The infrastructure put in place to ensure fans have access to very cheap travel throughout this tournament is something to be applauded, as well measures put in place to ensure England fans enjoy themselves every we go as we will be well looked after in each city we visit.’

Tournament veteran Simon Harris, who helped manage the London England Fans supporters club, said: ‘I’ve been following England abroad since France 98 and this Euro will be our biggest ever support on the road.

‘There’s a whole new generation of young fans ready to travel. Russia and Qatar were expensive, and Covid ruined Euro 2020. 

Many England fans mentioned Jude Bellingham (pictured throwing a ball in training on Friday) as the side's key hope

Many England fans mentioned Jude Bellingham (pictured throwing a ball in training on Friday) as the side’s key hope

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford pictured playing pool at Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land in Blankenhain, Germany on Friday

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford pictured playing pool at Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land in Blankenhain, Germany on Friday

England captain Harry Kane (right) pictured with vice-captain Kyle Walker (left)

England captain Harry Kane (right) pictured with vice-captain Kyle Walker (left)

‘Southgate is popular and England are doing well, so why wouldn’t you go?’

Andrew Patterson, 43, and wife Joanne, 42, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, travelled via Milan to soak up the atmosphere in Essen, despite not having tickets for the match.

‘We’re going to Italy Vs Albania and the tickets for that were only 45 euro (£38) each,’ Mr Patterson, a factory worker, said. 

‘But the only England tickets I could get were 200 euros each (£169). I regretted not buying them, but after Friday night’s performance against Iceland, maybe I should be relieved.’

Mrs Patterson, a 42-year-old retail worker, added: ‘They certainly can’t play any worse than that.’

Four friends from Tamworth drove through the night from Tamworth, Staffordshire.

Mark Matthews, 42, said: ‘I think we can reach the semi-final or final. Southgate is now picking players in form, but some people are still not happy because he’s not picked Jack Grealish. 

The Liverpool fan’s three travel companions, Neil Gallagher, 52, Leon Owen and Phil Hawkins, both 47, were less optimistic. 

But the Birmingham City fans said their former player Jude Bellingham could be the difference ‘as long as too much pressure isn’t placed on him’.

Mr Hawkins said the player, who was sold by Birmingham to Borussia Dortmund when he was just 17, ‘always had something about him’. 

He added: ‘He was never phased by anybody he came up against and grew in stature during the season-and- a-bit we had him for. Bellingham would go toe-to-toe with anyone, just like Wayne Rooney when he was young.’

Another group of friends since their schooldays drove over this morning from Ipswich, but were sceptical about England’s chances. 

One of the group, Lee Radbourne, 27, said: ‘Based on form, France will probably win the tournament. Knowing England we’ll probably under-achieve.’

Connor Field, also 27, said England manager Gareth Southgate was ‘too negative’ in his tactics.

Elsewhere, Miss England beauty queens have swapped glitzy gowns and heels for football shirts and St George flags as they prepare to roar on the Three Lions. 

The country’s most beautiful women are bringing a bit of glamour to the Euro 2024 tournament as they back Gareth Southgate’s men to end 58 years of hurt.

The contest’s finalists – including the newly-crowned Miss England Milla Magee – have proudly posed sporting their patriotic England shirts at St George’s flags.

The girls have shared their photos in a bid to inspire the men’s national team to glory at the tournament in Germany as they kick off tomorrow.

Miss England finalist Imogen Brown, 19, from Littlehampton West Sussex, said: ‘This year is the one. Bring it home boys.’

Fire cadet and reigning Miss Lincolnshire Mary Ann Jennings, 21, added: “‘Come on England, footballs coming home!

‘I’ll be watching you along the way lads, we’ve got this, 2024 is our year.’

Miss England runner-up Charlotte Grant, 24, said: ‘Coming from Liverpool, a city renowned for its deep passion for football, I have been brought up understanding the sport’s incredible power to unite a country.

‘As the current Miss Liverpool and the first runner-up of Miss England, I am thrilled to support England in the Euros.

‘I can’t wait to see the unity and passion that football will bring to our nation. Good luck, England.”

Miss Yorkshire Chloe McEwen, 21, added: ‘Go England, you’ve got this – bring it home for England.’

The beauty queens recently competed in the Miss England final in Wolverhampton and are hoping Harry Kane’s heroes can now reach a final of their own.

Milla, who recently made history by becoming the first size 16 Miss England, sported a retro 1982 England away shirt during a recent stunning photoshoot.

The 23-year-old is a qualified lifeguard and regularly takes part in beach cleans and lives in Newquay. She will represent Miss England at the 72nd Miss World.

She said: ‘It’s important to highlight, you can wear any England shirt you feel comfortable in if you are passionate about your country.

‘It’s sometimes way out of people’s reach to keep buying new football shirts, they are very expensive, and you should not feel the pressure to keep up.

‘Its almost £100 for a new shirt. Also by doing this you are doing more for the planet and fashion sustainability and your purse and I think it’s also really cool.’

In Gelsenkirchen, England fans sank shots of Jaeger and pints of German beer as they heralded star player Bellingham.

Three Lions supporters mixed with local Germans to belt out Beatles classic Hey Jude at a bar in the old town.

Wearing St George’s wigs and England shirts they started the party early, drinking happily and singing Oasis songs and chanting ‘Ingurland’ and ‘Scotland Get Battered’.

Scotland fans at Marienplatz in Munich on Friday ahead of the match against Germany

Scotland fans at Marienplatz in Munich on Friday ahead of the match against Germany 

Scotland fans at Marienplatz in Munich on Friday ahead of the match against Germany

Scotland fans at Marienplatz in Munich on Friday ahead of the match against Germany 

Scotland fans at the Marienplatz in Munich on Friday ahead of their match with Germany

Scotland fans at the Marienplatz in Munich on Friday ahead of their match with Germany

England fans then took it in turns to down shots of high-strength German spirit Jaeger – prompting cheers from the crowd.

German supporters, meanwhile, had also started gathering in Gelsenkirchen to watch the Euro 2024 curtain-raiser against Scotland, which kicks off later this evening.

An estimated 40,000 Three Lions supporters are expected to fill the former mining city over the weekend before the first game against Serbia on Sunday night.

So far only a handful of fans have arrived but those who have made it across early have already set up camp in two of the seven bars in the city.

Among the first arrivals this afternoon were friends Jamie Holbrook, 49 and Dave Blake, 56, from Grimsby.

Sporting a St George’s wig, Jamie joked:’ We’ve barely seen any other England fans here yet, it’s most likely the calm before the storm as thousands more are likely to come once the weekend kicks in properly.

‘We got to Germany last night and stayed in Düsseldorf. We had a great time, drinking and mixing with locals and even a few Scots who are basing themselves there for the tournament.

‘There were pockets of England fans but nothing more than that, but everyone was well-behaved and respectful.

‘At one point a chant of ten bombers started but there was a good deal of self-policing among the fans and those who had piped up with it were told to pack it in.

‘I hope we don’t hear much of that chant – although it seems inevitable that we will at some point. The new Hey Jude one about Bellingham is much better.’

Dave added: ‘Everyone’s been great so far, really friendly and so hopefully there won’t be any trouble.’

Brothers Mick and Tom O’Donnell drove 450 miles over two days from their home in Northampton to Gelsenkirchen, via Dover and Calais, in their campervan.

The Royal Navy vets, who served in the Falklands, have been following England away for the last 27-years.

Mick, 60, said: ‘I think this is as good a chance to win something as we’ve had because our attack is probably the best in the world.

‘But I fear our defence is our kryptonite. That’s why I’m not totally convinced yet that we’ll go all the way but if we play as a team to the best of our abilities then anything’s possible.

‘We’re out in Germany for however long England are so we’re hoping for a long trip.

‘The campervan has everything we need – two beds, fridge, cooker, small shower. We are camping on the outskirts of town.

‘We left home on Wednesday, drove down to Dover and caught the ferry to Calais before driving the short distance to Dunkirk and camping there for the night.

‘Then yesterday morning we drove to Duisburg and onto Gelsenkirchen today.’

Tom, 62, added: ‘We’ve followed England around the world to places like Brazil, France and Qatar and Germany always puts on a hell of a party. They did in 2006 when they held the World Cup.

‘England have got a great team on paper and I just hope that we can live up to expectations.

‘We went to the friendly games against Bosnia and Iceland and I think those games were the kick up the backside that we so desperately needed – hopefully, we get it right from now on.’

The pair watched the Euro 2024 curtain raiser between hosts Germany and Scotland from a bar in Gelsenkirchen’s old town.

A Scotland fan pours beer on his face in the Marienplatz square before yesterday's match

A Scotland fan pours beer on his face in the Marienplatz square before yesterday’s match 

A Scot pictured in his football top in Munich as the Tartan Army descend on the German city

A Scot pictured in his football top in Munich as the Tartan Army descend on the German city

Scotland and Aston Villa stars John McGinn (foreground) and Scott McTominay (background) pictured arriving at the stadium ahead of Friday's game

Scotland and Aston Villa stars John McGinn (foreground) and Scott McTominay (background) pictured arriving at the stadium ahead of Friday’s game

Scotland manager Steve Clarke inspects the pitch just over an hour before his side open their tournament against Germany

Scotland manager Steve Clarke inspects the pitch just over an hour before his side open their tournament against Germany

Mick joked: ‘I’m cheering on Germany. I know they are our bitter rivals, but Scotland is the auld enemy and we can’t have them winning.

‘Have you heard what the Scots sing about us? Germany is the lesser of two evils.’

Meanwhile, father and son Paul and Joe Watt – Bury fans from Manchester – are on their first Euro away.

Paul, 45, said: ‘This is our first tournament, so we are just soaking up all the atmosphere and it’s been brilliant so far.

‘We’ve not bumped into many England fans yet but those we have met have all been fantastic.

‘It’s great being together with fans of different nations, it’s what it’s all about.’

Unfurling an England flag, Joe, 21, added: ‘There’s a real buzz about the place, you can feel it.

‘Even though there’s not many England fans here yet we’ve met lots of Germans and they’ve been really good hosts.’

His friend, Mark Watson, 36, said: ‘I’m not sure of the reasoning behind lowering the alcohol content for the beer being sold at the stadium.

‘England fans will be drinking all day in the build-up to the game, and they will be drinking the higher strength beer in the pubs around Gelsenkirchen.

‘It doesn’t seem to me to be many places for fans to drink, it’s a small city and there’s only something like seven pubs.

‘But we’ve been given a warm welcome so far in Germany and nothing beats being away watching England with your mates.’

Kieran Craig, 24, was brought up in Wales but was born in Islington in London and is a proud England fan.

He added: ‘We’ve come here for a good time and that’s what we’re going to have. My heart says England can go on and win it, but my head says it’ll probably be no more than the Quarter finals.

‘We are as good as anyone on our day so maybe we have just to hope we fulfil the potential and get that little bit of luck along the way.’

Tournament veteran Simon Harris, who helped manage the London England Fans supporters club, said: ‘I’ve been following England abroad since France 98 and this Euro will be our biggest ever support on the road.

‘There’s a whole new generation of young fans ready to travel.

‘Russia and Qatar were expensive, and Covid ruined Euro 2020. Southgate is popular and England are doing well, so why wouldn’t you go? There’ll be lots of singing and drinking beer.’

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