From joy to despair at Blackpool's Dunes bar as fans watched the big game

There is no other way to say it but it's not coming home this year.

Wednesday, 11th July 2018, 11:34 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:08 pm
From joy to despair the the Dunes tonight

A end to end game between England and Croatia couldn't see the squad reach their first World Cup final in 52 years.

But it could all have been so different as the build-up to England's semi-final started in a different spirit way before kick-off at 7pm.

The Dunes pub car park full, like the bar itself, and Lytham Road was lined with supporters cars early in order for them to get a good spot to watch the match.

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Despair in Dunes

The manager Duncan Woods had his full staff on for the evening and said he has been eager to get the punters fully backed behind the team and has been playing England classics such as Vindaloo and It's Coming Home at least 30 minutes before the game.

About the game itself, Duncan said: "As long as England win I don't care about the result.

The whole pub joined the team in singing God Save The Queen before kick-off and supporters had already got their predictions in.

Husband and wife, Kim and Ross Woods from South Shore, had a special reason to be supporting the England squad last night.

58-year-old Kim's great-grandfather was former Manchester United player George Wall, who gained seven England caps from 1907 to 1913 scoring two goals.

She explained her interest in football is from his footballing history and said: "I reckon they will go through in the eleventh hour but you can never predict what can happen."

Ross, 74, added: "We generally aren't big football fans but we always follow England especially during the World Cup.

"It's been so enjoyable and the vibe that is going currently is just a feel good factor for the country as a whole."

Kim also said that her mum, who passed away nine years ago, was a huge England fan due to her grandfather and that she would be cheering the team on if she was here today and added: "It's nice to see such a good, clean team playing for a change."

Mechanic Chris Simpson, 24, said Croatia are a good side but reckoned England have it "in the bag."

He added: "We have come this far now that I reckon they will go the whole way. The whole country is behind them and I hope they know it.

"I reckon it will be 2-1 at full time. As long as it doesn't go to extra time and penalties I'll just about cope."

Blackpool trio, Karen Bird and her two daughters Sheridan and Tuscany had come along to the game as a matter of showing that women get involved just as much as the men.

Home-maker Karen, 51 said: "It's not just a male thing, it's family orientated. I'm confident that they will make it through and me and the other half have put some bets on to make it more exciting."

"I normally just support Liverpool but the atmosphere of the world cup is just so much better."

"They have generated such a massive build up and everyone will be united if England make it through and the weather has helped as well."

Sheridan, 27, is a civil servant and says this match is for the country.

She added: "It's the first time in my life that they have reached a semi-final and everyone is just buzzing and so excited. I couldn't wait to finish work today and come an watch the match."

Tuscany, 26, says it has been extra hard because she is a bar supervisor and has been working every England game.

She said: "I've got today off and I have come out to watch the match because football is definitely coming home"

After the referee blew the whistle to start the game the crowd didn't have to wait long to celebrate as Kieran Trippier smashed home a free-kick into the goal in the fourth minute sending the pub into a frenzy followed by more chants of "It's Coming Home".

England led at half-time as Lytham Road remained absent of any traffic, the majority of Blackpool seemingly gripped to their TVs.

The crowd were singing Vindaloo in the 68th minute when Ivan Perisic unexpectedly scored for Croatia and a hush descended over the gathered masses.

They nearly scored again a few minutes later hitting the post and the rebound saved by Jordan Pickford.

The crowd grew restless as the minutes ticked by heading towards the 90th and the match went into extra time.

A few people left to watch the remaining part at home or just not being able to bear the thought of penalties.

Five minutes into extra time England gained a free-kick but this came to nothing followed by a corner shortly after that nearly did, John Stones header cleared off the line.

Pickford saved again shortly before the end of the first half.

Mario Mandzukic scored three minutes into the second half of extra time. The Dunes' atmosphere of joy during the first half now turned to anger and despair as England battled to draw level.

The final whistle was blown and England were out. Tears seen from the players as well as supporters in the pub,

Kim Ross said on the final whistle that: "Croatia put up a good fight and they deserved the win to be honest but it's a shame for England.

"They have played their pants off but it wasn't their day. I'd like France to win the final as I think they have played the best throughout the competition."

Chris was "gutted" and said the journey is over this year but added: "They have got further than anyone ever expected and they have made people believe again in the national team after years and years of disappointment.

"We can only hope they build on what they have achieved this year and definitely keep Southgate as manager who has been brilliant for the squad."

It must have been too much for Karen, Sheridan and Tuscany as they couldn't be seen after the game was over.

Retired builder Bill Green, 72, from South Shore says he remembers England's 1966 World Cup win and the current England squad have been one of the best he has seen since then.

He added: "Of course, everyone is going to be disappointed with tonight but you need to remember how we have been at most of the recent World Cups.

"I would say they are at least on par with the 1990 team especially with how young most of them are and we can look forward to the Euros and the next world cup with how well we have done this year.

"Let's hope we can get third place by beating the Belgians."