The footballing fiesta that is the World Cup kicks off today (Thursday June 12) — and fans across Eastwood and Kimberley are gearing up to roar on Roy Hodgson and his Three Lions troops.
World Cup fever has been building across the Advertiser district and finally the tournament in Brazil is ready to roll.
But most locals only have eyes for Saturday and England’s late-night clash with Italy to launch their assault on the tournament in Group D — but will Gerrard and Co samba their way through their group or will they drive supporters nuts?
In preparation for the much anticipated game and those that follow, pub owners in the area have been kiting out their premises with flags, buntings and other decorations.
The Gate Inn in Kimberley will be showing the games on big screens as well as putting on BBQs and raffles where people can win England shirts. Landlady Dawn Doherty has been the driving force.
Also decked out with flags and big screens is The Sun Inn in Eastwood — and many other local pubs and venues.
Paul Rawden, the newly-appointed manager of Kimberley Miners Welfare FC has given the Advertiser his predictions.
He said: “There are so many good teams it’s difficult to say, but with it being in South America you’ve got to fancy Argentina or Brazil.
“I reckon England might do better than some people think, if Roy Hodgson is brave enough to let some of the young players have a run out.
“He may play it safe in the first few games, but I think they will get out of the group.
“There is always a surprise package in a competition like this, if I was a betting man I would put my money on Argentina.
“It is in their hemisphere, they are used to the conditions and Brazil are their rivals.”
Before the highs and lows of the nation’s latest cup campaign begin however, Nottinghamshire Police are warning people to be vigilant against football related violence.
Superintendant Mark Holland said: “With the lighter evenings and warmer weather, it is most likely that people will be drinking for larger periods of the day.
“With high levels of emotion, this could put vulnerable people at risk but there is no excuse for any kind of violence.
“Perpetrators must be clear that the World Cup does not give them any justification for partaking in abusive behaviour.
“We need the public to stand with us and show their support for the Alliance Against Violence campaign.”
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has also issued a warning prior to the event for businesses to review how they keep staff and customers safe.
The warning comes in anticipation of the large numbers of people that something such as the World Cup attracts.
Tom Clark, Fire Protection Officer from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are all looking forward to the excitement that the tournament brings.
“We also recognise the interest and economic boost that this will bring to local businesses.
“However, we want to make sure the tournament is enjoyed in an safe a way as possible, and that includes making sure that businesses have assessed any additional risks and taken steps to reduce them.”
Members of the Advertiser team offer their predictions.....
Sports editor Mark Duffy:
“There’s not a great deal of pressure on England this year which may play into their hands.
Should they qualify from their group they’d have a favourable second round draw as Group C isn’t too strong, and on that basis I’d say a quarter-final spot is probably the best they can hope for given the potential matches they could have at that stage.
“Spain’s squad once again looks strong from back to front and if they’re on song they’ll be very hard to beat.
“Brazil will of course be very fancied and I’d also keep an eye on Belgium who have developed a group of excellent players in the last couple of years and could stand an outside chance.”
Reporter Jack Grasby:
“There are so many great teams in the World Cup this year which makes it so difficult to make any kind of prediction.
“Teams like Spain, Argentina, and Belgium have fantastic squads and of course the hosts have the home advantage.
“But England have looked much sharper recently than before Roy Hodgson took charge, with some fresh young faces being taken to Brazil.
“The expectation on our national team is generally not very high however I think they could pose a serious challenge over the next few weeks.
“They have some great players in all posistions and I think this will help them overcome Uruguay and Costa Rica.
“Italy always pose a threat, but I don’t think they are as strong as they were two years ago.
“After the group stage, anything could happen. You never know in football.”