City ready to cheer England to victory
AS 11 English footballers step on to the pitch in South Africa today to battle for the pride of their nation, they will have support from the great and good of Peterborough behind them.
Only a win against European counterparts Slovenia in the match at Port Elizabeth this afternoon will be enough to guarantee that England will progress to the second round of the 2010 World Cup.
An unthinkable draw or defeat will mean the squad’s fate depends on the other Group C game, USA against Algeria, which will decide if England qualify from the group stages.
Sir Winston Churchill once famously spoke of his confidence that English men would do their duty for their country and would prove themselves to defend their home.
But – just in case the former Prime Minister’s words are not inspiration enough for the Three Lions squad – people around Peterborough have been delivering their rallying calls.
Leading the cries is Mayor of Peterborough, Cllr Keith Sharp, who urged the city to forgive the side’s past failings and get behind England.
He said: “I shall be supporting them rigorously. I will be watching the first half at home, before heading to Cambridge for a civic duty.”
He predicted: “By half time we will be six-nil up, but then I do live in a but of a fantasy world. Seriously though, I will be supporting them and I hope the city gets behind them.”
Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Cliff Walker, who was with Cllr Sharp at a citizenship ceremony at Peterborough Town Hall yesterday, said he is also backing the England team for a victory.
One man who has more to lose then most on England’s performance today is Peterborough United striker Craig Mackail-Smith.
The 26-year-old star will be forced to swap his kit for kitchen whites if England leave the tournament before Italy, following a wager with co-owner of Toscanini restaurant Paolo Bianchi.
If England do worse than Italy, the Posh player must work 10 shifts washing pots and clearing tables in the Eye restaurant. If England triumph over Italy, however, Mr Bianchi will have to clean Craig’s boots for a season.
The striker said: “It’s not looking good at the moment. I’ve been shouting at the television, willing the boys on in the two matches.
“I could be in a lot of trouble because my firstfirst shift could be tomorrow evening. But I’ve got faith in the boys.”
As a footballer, Craig understands the pressure on the players and as a fan he can appreciate why they supporters booed the side after the draw against Algeria last Friday.
He added: “I can understand why people were booing at the end of the game. All people want to see is them giving their all on the pitch.”
However, Peterborough’s infamous Fabio Capello look-a-like, Howard Brown, from Werrington, feels the man he shares an uncanny resemblance with should ring the changes with his squad.
He said: “I think Steven Gerrard should go up top with Wayne Rooney and Joe Cole should be in the starting line-up. They’ve got to fight like they do in the Premiership and play to the full extent of their abilities. But it could be worse, because we could be in the situation of France or Spain.”
Peterborough United director of football Barry Fry said a win for England today would lift the nation.
He said: “After yesterday’s budget and the recession, the whole nation is ready to be lifted and I think England can do it for us.”
England’s vital final Group C game against Slovenia kicks off at 3pm on BBC1.
SUPPORT: Cliff Walker, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire and Mayor of Peterborough, Cllr Keith Sharp, will be cheering on England in today’s big match against Slovenia.