Euro 2020: Havering pubs reveal boost from England's run to final
- Credit: PA
Ahead of Sunday's Euro 2020 final, the Recorder caught up with two Havering pubs to see how they've enjoyed England's run to a first major final since 1966.
While some restrictions remain in place for a further ten days, punters have been allowed back inside pubs again since May.
This, coupled with the joy of being one game from glory, means both The Sun and The Rising Sun - in Romford and Hornchurch respectively - are set for a busy Sunday.
Sam Gittins - the manager of The Rising Sun - is expecting a clean sheet.
"I reckon we'll win 2-0," he claimed.
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Sam and his colleagues certainly won't have time to be glued to the TV, should England's previous games prove any indicator.
"We've been really busy, it's been good. Everyone’s a fan at the minute and it creates a good atmosphere – especially outside."
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The manager put up a protective partition when lockdown restrictions only allowed punters outside, a decision driven by the fact that "the weather in England's not always great!".
According to Sam, the High Street venue has been filling up from around 4 to 5pm on game days: “Everyone comes in with England shirts, England flags - the lot - it’s so good."
He'd rank the recent atmosphere as among the best experienced during his three years as manager.
Remarking that "it's always been a good pub for football" due to its West Ham links, Sam feels this Euros run brings it to another level.
The buzz created by the Three Lions' success has been timely: "If it weren’t for the Euros, we’d be struggling a lot more.
"It has helped business; it's still not the best as we’re running at 30 per cent capacity.
"Everyone has to sit down, it is still table service, so there’s more staff, more doormen. So it’s not really cost effective at the minute, but from July 19 that’ll change.”
Fresh off announcing on Monday that restrictions are set to end, there is another decision Sam wants the prime minister to make: "Hopefully he makes it a bank holiday on Monday.
“I think most people have booked Monday off, or will be phoning in sick anyway," he laughed.
If Sunday's fully-booked venue is anything to go by, there are likely to be a fair few sore heads in Hornchurch to nurse back to health.
Though The Rising Sun felt quite busy when this newspaper visited, Sam believes a lot of people are "saving themselves" for Sunday.
It's understandable, considering people have been waiting 55 years for this.
Tracy, who did not want her surname included, has managed The Sun for four years.
She said: "We’ve been mobbed. Since lockdown ended, we have not stopped. We’ve been extra busy, busier than we used to be.
“Everything is really positive for us at the moment. We’ve been really busy, especially for the football which has brought in new customers.”
Now ostensibly a sports bar after a period of serving food, the London Road venue is thriving - much like the Three Lions.
"The atmosphere for the games has been amazing and we've had no trouble - everyone is just really happy. Thank God the weather is going to be dry!"
Tracy was busy preparing tables for Sunday when this paper visited the pub; thanks to some careful planning - and a big garden - more than 200 people will have "bums on seats" for the big game.
"We've been inundated. We didn't take any bookings until 11am on Thursday, and by 1pm we were fully booked."
England's run has given Tracy and her colleagues a boost after a tumultuous 18 months for the sector.
“For us, especially for the hospitality industry, it couldn’t have come at a better time. We were already busy after lockdown ended, so I'd call this an added bonus."
When asked the burning question - a prediction for Sunday's game - Tracy was bullish: "2-1 win for England."