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Review: Preston’s Fanzone enjoyable even if the football is not

Posted on - 1st July, 2024 - 8:00pm | Author - | Posted in - City Centre, Flag Market, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Sport
Fans react to England securing their place in the quarter-finals Pic: Michael Porter Photography
Fans react to England securing their place in the quarter-finals Pic: Michael Porter Photography

It’s important, when weighing up my experience at Preston’s Euros Fanzone at the weekend, to try to disregard what’s been happening on the pitch. If only.

The Euros have so far been marred by underwhelming performances from England that have made maintaining interest in the national team a more chore-like experience than it should be.

That, combined with the lingering threat of rain, meant that it was hardly a carnival atmosphere at the Flag Market before kick-off. None of which can be held against the organisers, Preston BID, who have tried to put something special on for the city.

Read more: Preston’s Euros Fanzone erupts as England leave it late against Slovakia

The tables at the front – under what is undoubtedly the best screen in Preston to watch football at – were busy but the standing area we found ourselves in considerably less so.

And over the course of ninety minutes, there was very little in the way of jubilation. An offside goal resulted in the mandatory pints-in-the-air moment and then, predictably, a disappointed trudge to the bar for a refill.

The bar service itself was slick – an easier achievement on Sunday than it will be next Saturday – with no wait for drinks to be poured. That being said, it would benefit from a proper draught set-up. £6 for a beer isn’t cheap but nor is it the eye-watering price it probably should be.

Preston’s Fanzone. Pic: Michael Porter Photography

The urinals were clean and a queue never formed. The atmosphere inside was happy and friendly despite the performance. Whoever introduced beachballs at half-time for a kickabout either deserves a medal or a scolding depending on your tolerance for such things. At that stage, it was arguably the highlight.

And then eventually the moment came, against all hope with expectation depleted to nothing, a special moment for those who attended as Jude Bellingham delivered.

Really, it was at that point that my visit to the Fanzone felt worthwhile and not long afterwards that we decided we’d make a return on Saturday for the Switzerland game. Because the way that goal was celebrated was up there with anything I’ve experienced watching England.

The quarter-final could be your last chance to pay a visit to the Fanzone. Switzerland made an ordinary Italy side look ordinary. England look ordinary too. But if you must watch an ordinary side, I probably couldn’t suggest anywhere better.

Standing tickets are still available.

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