Not everyone in Northern Ireland wants to see England fail at football

Football fans in NI pinned their colours to the mast yesterday for the England vs Germany match at the Euros, but it would appear the majority were flying a losing flag.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 1:46 pm
BBC’s Northern Ireland correspondent Emma Vardy felt she was in the minority cheering on England in Belfast
BBC’s Northern Ireland correspondent Emma Vardy felt she was in the minority cheering on England in Belfast

Several bars in Belfast put up German flags for the clash at Wembley, while several people were seen sporting shirts of England’s opponents on a sunny day in the city centre.

A social media post from NI-born footballer James McClean wearing a Germany shirt heated things up online as fans debated the pros and cons of supporting England.

TV journalist Emma Vardy felt she was in the minority flying the flag for England in the Province. She tweeted: “Spare a thought for the English contingent of the BBC – @DanJohnsonNews (Dan Johnson) @hendopolis (Neil Henderson) & I – stuck here in the wilds of Northern Ireland, while most of Belfast cheers on Germany (love u really NI)”

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Later she added: “Ok ok, lots of you have assured me there were in fact plenty of people in Belfast cheering on England tonight. Perhaps I was a little jaded earlier by my own partner trying to buy a Germany shirt (yes you did Aaron). I should know by now... no allegiances are simple here!!!”

Writing in tomorrow’s News Letter Tim McGarry comments: “Wanting England to lose is of course slightly distasteful, but it is a sentiment shared by many, if not most, non-English football fans and it often unites Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.”

But not everyone here wants England to taste defeat.

Johnny Stronge, chair of 1st Maze Northern Ireland Supporters Club, said: “Our club are behind England 100% and have been cheering them on throughout the tournament.”

England face Ukraine in the quarter finals – a team who Northern Ireland disposed of in style at the last Euros.

Johnny said: “Ukraine put on a great performance on Tuesday night but England appear to be hitting form at the right time after a slow start.”

Other NI supporters clubs are backing England... but only to a point.

Gareth McCarter, club secretary of Armagh NISC, said: “I’m happy to see England go far because they are the players we know best from the Premier League. The outlook in our club would be we want them to go as far as possible to keep as much interest as possible. But I don’t want them to win it. It would be fairly insufferable if they actually won it.”

Aaron Burke from Fintona NISC said: “It is interesting the longer they’re in it as we’re all fans of Premier League clubs and probably know all the England players the best. But no sleep lost if they go out.”

Another member of the same club said he was put off backing England because of the media going “over the top”.

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