World Cup joy turns to heartbreak - but region’s fans praise England players who did us proud
PUBLISHED: 22:10 11 July 2018 | UPDATED: 22:25 11 July 2018
It was night of twists, turns and high emotion where joy and high hopes turned to heartbreak.
But whatever the drama of England’s first World Cup semi-final in 28 years, fans in Suffolk and Essex were determined their cheers would be heard by our players in Russia as they did the nation proud.
Ahead of the big kick off at 7pm in the Luzhniki Stadium, there was so much hope and expectation from fans gathered back home.
Supporters could be seen making their way to pubs and bars in Ipswich early in the afternoon, cheering and chanting as they went.
One of the largest crowds was gathered at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road ground, where once again supporters were let into the FanZone to watch the game on a giant screen.
Venues such as The Plough and Isaacs were also packed with flag-waving, England shirt-wearing fans who built a great atmosphere.
Yet even the most optimistic of those watching could believe that what happened in the first five minutes was possible.
When the Three Lions got a free kick inside the first five minutes on the edge of the penalty box, fans dared to dream of the perfect start - and so it turned out to be, as Kieran Trippier scored a belter.
The scene was met with jubilation, with a video of dozens of pints of drink flying into the air at Portman Road and supporters breaking out into loud applause at The Plough.
As England seemed to have the lion share of the play, fans dared to dream and wonder: could this finally be our year? Yet Ivan Perisic’s equaliser brought a stunned silence to crowds who only moments earlier had been so hopeful.
And as Mario Mandžukićfired Croatia into the lead, Woodbridge resident Iain Langmaid spoke for many on Twitter when he said: “#Mandzukic may have broken #ENG hearts with that finish.”
Still, Essex and Suffolk fans valiantly cheered the Three Lions on as they desperately searched for a late equaliser.
Sadly it was not to be - but whatever the result, Suffolk and Essex supporters were behind their team all the way - as the players did the country proud.
West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock put on Twitter: “So sad. So proud of Gareth Southgate, Harry Kane & the whole England team. An example to us all.”
Former Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas added on Twitter: “Totally gutting, but my goodness this #England side have given us one hell of a ride. No need for grand inquests or questions over the manager’s future. Just time to be proud and optimistic about what lies ahead.”