England fans in Bristol: 'When it went to penalties we knew that it was all over'
With heads hung in disappointment, one fan summed up everyone’s feeling at the England defeat in one city centre bar – “absolutely devastated”.
Tensions were high as the game went into extra time and then to penalties.
The throng of fans in Walkabout became optimistic as Italy missed their second penalty.
But it all came crashing down around them.
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Graham Brunston, 59, who lives in Nailsea, told the Post: “I am absolutely devastated.
“It was a good game but when it went to penalties we knew it was over.”
His friend Bryan Rowswell, 62, added: “We’re always rubbish at penalties – it’s the same as always – we came so close.”
Couple Jo Belcher, 28, and Will Murphy, 26, agreed, adding: “The atmosphere was so upbeat and now it’s just pure devastation.”
The bar quickly emptied as soon as the game finished, with the once exhillerated fans now downbeat.
Loud chants and many plastic pints of beer filled Walkabout in Corn Street. The bar was full to capacity with a stream of around 20 people queuing to get in before the match started.
Staff had to open the bar’s “nightclub” section on the first floor, as they described the atmosphere as “epic”.
Many groups of young men, as well as a scattering of women, filled the bar and an enthusiastic cheering of chants got the night started.
Fans actually booed as Daydream Believer was swapped for coverage of the match, but they all stood still to belt out the National Anthem.
One lot enjoying the match were a group of friends from Bradley Stoke.
Conor Stoney, 20, a landscaper, told the Post: “We’re all watching the match here because there is an absolutely amazing atmosphere – it’s much better than being at home with our parents.
“We are all massive football fans and wouldn’t have missed this for the world.
“The singing and chanting here is all a good laugh.”
The group stood fixated on the match and all put their head in their hands at a near England goal four minutes in.
Bellydancer Katie Stevens, 20, who lives in the city centre, invited her friend Emily Cook, 27, from Cheltenham, to watch the game in Bristol.
“Bristol always has a brilliant atmosphere during the matches,” she said.
“We heard they were doing some good drinks deals here so we decided to come out and get into the spirit.
“We always watch when England play – it’s so much more exciting than normal football!“
Jonjo Fellows, 20, who studies economics at UWE, served drinks at the bar but had his eyes firmly on the match.
“The England team started strong and the feeling in here has been so good,” said the student who lives in Clifton.
“When England won last week it went crazy in here – all the drinks went flying – it’s a good job we serve them in plastic cups!
“If they win tonight Bristol will just go mad.”
Lauren Pinkett, 24, and Keely Stokes, 29, both work at Motor Trade in Kingswood.
“We came to watch the match here for the atmosphere,” said Lauren.
“We always watch England and our hopes are high for a win.
“It wouldn’t be the same to watch the match at home – we wanted to be with all the other Bristolians supporting our country.”
Couple Jo Belcher, 28, and Will Murphy, 26, who live in Brislington, both wore patriotic red shirts to watch the match in Walkabout.
They paid £8 for a roundtrip on the bus from Brislington but said it was worth it for the great team spirit of fans.
“I’m a Bristol girl born and bred and used to be a keen Bristol City fan – we still live on the right side of the river!,” said Jo, who works at a solicitors.
“I don’t get to as many of their matches as I want too but always support England.
“We thought about watching at home to save money but you can’t beat this atmosphere.
“We checked bus times and wouldn’t have bothered coming if we thought England were going to lose.
“We’re both massive football fans – which helped when we got together – so games like this are important to us.”
As chants of Fat Les' Vindaloo began to be yelled out across the bar, Will told the Post: “It’s great to be here together getting into the spirit.
“It’s the same old England team with the same old ups and downs – being an England fan is never going to be easy.
“You always get every emotion going through you – it’s exhillerating but nervewracking.
“I think we have been giving Italy too much time on the ball, but England are playing better than normal.”
Janish Thapaliya, 21, who lives in Filton, only came to England from his native Nepal one year ago, but has found it extremely easy to get into the football mad spirit.
“Back in Nepal people are crazy about the Premier League here and most people support England,” said the first year business student at Bristol University.
“I’ve been to a few cities in the UK before I settled in Bristol and you can’t beat the team spirit here.
“Everyone is friendly and enjoys singing and chanting.
“I’m definitely supporting the England team and am just hoping for a win.”
Ian Stevenson, 40, managing director of a property maintenance company, couldn’t resisit coming out to support our boys.
“It would have been easy to stay at home, but it’s just not the same,” said the Knowle resident.
“There are 550 people in this bar alone and more upstairs – there are so many screens here that you’ve got a great view of the game.
“England have played really well, it’s an interesting match to watch.
“I’m predicting it will go to extra time and penalties though.
“There was no way I was going to miss this game – watching football is my law.”
Tom Shephard, 19, from Yate, couldn’t resist jumping up to point his finger at one of the screens after a near miss.
“I really get into the games, I’m such a big football fan,” said the construction student at Soundwell College.
“I think the match has been good, but we could have done better.
“It’s extremely lively in here – people are getting rowdier as time goes on.
“England fans always wear their hearts on their sleeves.”
Jonathan Lambert, 32, a chef from St George, added: “Being together with so many fans is so exciting.
“This is a great place to watch because you get to see so many different reactions.
“There are going to be people laughing, crying, cheering and shouting all night long.”