Fans raise their glasses to England’s performance

Workers and students who downed tools, switched off computers and sneaked out of the office or classroom early weren’t disappointed as they settled down in pubs across the region to watch England’s respectable start to the 2012 European Championships.

Many donned scarves, hats and waved flags with patriotic fervour as bars turned on the big TV screens for the 5pm kick-off, on Monday, and created a fantastic party atmosphere in Chesterfield town centre and the region for everyone backing our boys in the competition’s host countries Poland and the Ukraine.

England v France

England v France

And they were delighted as England carved out a very respectable 1-1 draw against one of the tournament’s hotly-tipped favourites France.

Joleon Lescott’s first half-goal had supporters jumping for joy in Chesterfield town centre pubs including the Abacus bar and Yates’s wine bar.

Supporter Paul Hopkinson, 31, of Chesterfield, said: “I think England have got every chance to do very well. There have been fewer expectations from this team and the pressure is off them and that will help them play better. Our manager Roy Hodgson has a good sensible head on him and I think we will do well.”

No one could fault any of the England players who have put everyone in a much better mood for the rest of their working week in anticipation of the country’s next outing against Sweden from 7.45pm, on Friday, which should see the area’s pubs packed to the rafters.

Further success against the Ukraine on June 19 should guarantee a quarter final place with hopes of making it to the final on July 1.

Supporter Kelly Thorpe, 30, of Boythorpe, Chesterfield, said: “I really want them to do well because it’s important to support your country.”

Chris Wright, 27, of Chesterfield, discharged himself from hospital with a head injury especially to watch the France match in Yates’s bar in the town centre.

He said: “I think we will at least make it to the quarter finals but I still think England manager Roy Hodgson is the wrong man for the job.”

Chris’s friend Dave Bingham, of Heath, said: “I don’t know a lot about football but I’m going to enjoy having a few beers at every game with my mates.”

Ollie Churm, 23, said he really enjoyed the 2012 Euros atmosphere in the town centre’s Abacus bar.

He added: “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen so far of England and I’m confident we will do well against Sweden and the Ukraine.”

Kelly Scaysbrook and friends had a wonderful time watching the game at Abacus too. Kelly said: “We want the team to go all the way. Come on England!”

Fans’ positive feelings were echoed by the England captain Steven Gerrard who said France have fantastic players but his team caused them many problems too.

He added: “It’s great to get off the mark and now we want four points out of the next two group games.”

Supporters around Chesterfield were gutted by France’s first-half Samir Nasri equaliser but heartened by the England showing and praised performances by youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joleon Lescott and goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Manager Roy Hodgson was also impressed with England.

He said: “We played well and France ask questions because they have talented players, so I’m quite happy.”

Derbyshire Times photographer Bernard Jones took to the streets of Chesterfield to snap pictures of fans enjoying the game.

Just click on the play button on the above slideshow to see his pictures.

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For further coverage on the concert, see this week’s Derbyshire Times.