Tears as England exit

CHEERS and beers turned to tears as England exited another major competition after losing a penalty shoot-out.Stunned, dejected and exhausted, Suffolk fans joined the rest of the country in waving goodbye to their Euro 2004 dreams after more than two hours of edge-of-the-seat action.

CHEERS and beers turned to tears as England exited another major competition after losing a penalty shoot-out.

Stunned, dejected and exhausted, Suffolk fans joined the rest of the country in waving goodbye to their Euro 2004 dreams after more than two hours of edge-of-the-seat action.

Fans across the county supported their team to the bitter end through a night of excruciating highs and lows.

In the Brewers Arms in Orford Street, Ipswich, many found it impossible to watch as the tension reached boiling point during the penalty-shoot out.


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Peering out between fingers, or shielding their eyes with their shirts, the pressure proved too much as Darius Vassell stepped up to take what would be England's final shot.

Among the many fans watching the action was Vaughn Gledhil,27, of Pearson Road, who summed up the emotions of many.

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"I thought England deserved to win after the first 90 minutes and the referee made some terrible decisions.

"It's deja-vu really, it's happened to us too many times before, but they fought hard and did England proud."

At the beginning of the evening hopes remained high and when Michael Owen scored after just three minutes the cheers could be heard echoing across town.

In the Suffolk Punch in Norwich Road, Ipswich jubilant fans packed out the bar and landlady Lucille Moran was full of optimism.

"So far it's been absolutely fantastic, both in terms of the atmosphere and the increased trade.

"Normally the summer is our quietest time of year because we haven't got a beer garden, but this year I would say trade has probably trebled.

"We've had no trouble at all, everyone's just come along and had a thoroughly good time.

"I think we've got a good chance of winning. I've got my fingers crossed - for England and for trade!"

For the next 80 minutes the fans watched in quiet expectation as England fought hard to hang on to their lead but a superb header from Helder Postiga shattered their hopes of an easy victory.

Just as extra time looked certain, the fans were given a glimmer of hope in the form of Campbell header and the crowd erupted.

But as the celebrations began victory was cruelly snatched away by referee Urs Meier who disallowed the goal.

As the fans prepared for extra time, the earlier optimism became tinged with a sense of frustration.

Tim Peet, 20, of Somersham, said: "We've played very well but we've done exactly what we did in France. We get complacent and then it all falls down at the last hurdle."

From that moment on, it was a rollercoaster ride for fans as the teams battled through the full 30-minutes of extra time, each scoring a goal apiece.

With the prospect of the dreaded penalty shoot-out looming ahead, silence descended on the pub as fans held their breath during each and every attempt.

Eventually the pressure simply proved too much and as England crashed out of the tournament a dejected crowd were left to filter slowly out in to the street with the realisation that, once again, victory in a major tournament had slipped through England's fingers.

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