Fans celebrate in the Black Country as England win first game at Euro 2020

Sunshine, singing and St George's Crosses are always a sure sign an international tournament is under way.

Sam Ward and Isaac Atwal celebrating the win at the Royal Oak Pub in Chapel Ash
Sam Ward and Isaac Atwal celebrating the win at the Royal Oak Pub in Chapel Ash

But sanitiser and social distancing were the two new additions as England fans gathered to watch the team's Euro 2020 opener.

Crowds gathered in pubs across the Black Country and Staffordshire to watch England beat Croatia 1-0, thanks to a second-half Raheem Sterling.

Seats were spaced out and no bar service was allowed but the cheers, applause and tense silences were just the same as before the pandemic hit.

England's Raheem Sterling scored the winning goal against Croatia. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Harrison Mail and Isaac Atwal had front row seats in front of the big screen in The Royal Oak's beer garden in Wolverhampton.

Harrison, 25, and Isaac, 26, had cold drinks in hand and were glued to the match.

Harrison, who works for Wolverhampton Homes, said: "I think we should get to a semi, ideally the final.

"I like to be optimistic but past experience has taught me not to be. There's nothing like England at an international tournament."

Isaac, who now lives in London working as a civil servant but came home to his parents to watch the game with friends, added: "We had tickets last year in Scotland and we were going to make a week of it this time but UEFA emailed saying we're cancelled, I guess there was no guarantee. It was one of the knock out games.

"We'll do our best to make the most of it here."

The Royal Oak Pub, Chapel Ash

Father and son Michael and Ben Smith had come out to the Combermere in Chapel Ash to watch the game together and celebrate Ben's 24th birthday.

Michael, 59, said: "We both support Wolves through and through but I think England will do alright.

"I fancy them to win the whole tournament.

"We'll be watching all of the games definitely. We all really missed it last year.

"England was solid and it has boosted me up a bit as I thought they would disappoint us. nIt's important not to lose your first game but to win the first.

"But the big game will be Friday, overall it was a solid performance. I'm feeling more optimistic now."

Pic at the Combermere, Chapel Ash and: Michael and Ben Smith at front, then: Jo Darby, Emily Raines, Gavin Craig

Meanwhile Tom Silcock was enjoying a pint in the Clarendon in Chapel Ash.

The 27-year-old who works for Marston's, said: "I am more of a Wolves fan but I do watch the England games.

"I think maybe we'll make it through to the quarters and that'll be it really. I think we'd be lucky to come out with a win.

"But it gets you talking and gives everybody an excuse to have a drink.

"The game itself was fine, it was a bit boring really, but it was good to get a win.

"Overall it was a bit of a dull affair."

Pic at the Clarendon Pub. Joe Pap and Jack Cullis at front, then: Darren Cullis, Ade Shaw

Jack Cullis, a 24-year-old plasterer, had the prime table in front of the TV with his father Darren Cullis, 54.

Jack said: "It's going to be different for all the teams this year, I think England will win the tournament.

"I'm going to be watching every single game."

Darren added: "I'm a big England fan, I've got a tattoo on my shoulder. I'm apprehensive but we want to win every game.

"It's fantastic to be back, we've been here every game more or less. I'll be cheering England on."

And staff at the Clarendon said they noticed a boost in trade since the Euros started.

Staff at the Clarendon Ross Bowen, Samm Pilkington and Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson, supervisor, said: "Since the Euros started we've been a lot busier.

"I think they are looking forward to watching it here as opposed to home."

Samm Pilkinton, one of the bar staff, added: "I'm s Spurs fan but will want to watch England.

"It's a lot nicer watching it in a pub than at home, everyone just enjoys being out with their friends.

"Especially in beer gardens in this weather, a lot will sit outside and watch the games."

And the pubs are likely to be even busier for the net match against Scotland on Friday.

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