Standstill for big
AS crowds of people flocked to watch England keep their World Cup hopes alive, Peterborough came to a sudden standstill.
The city’s usually busy and bustling centre resembled a ghost town as shoppers put down their bags and cash cards and replaced them with England flags ready to watch the big match.
Prior to kick-off for England’s crunch game with Slovenia, many businesses reported busier trade and solid takings at the tills.
But, as soon as the clocks struck 3pm, areas such as Cathedral Square and Bridge Street were deserted. Only a few stragglers remained, left to roam the quiet city centre.
While many chose to take the day off to watch the game, others who had to work found any way they could to stay in touch with the Three Lions’ – with radio commentaries a common option around the city.
Sonya Smith, manager at men’s retailer Moss, in Bridge Street, was listening to the big match in store.
She said: “It’s been really busy during the day. We’ve had a lot of people in, but then everyone went off to watch the football.
“We would have liked to see a big screen up in the city centre for the football so people could still shop at the same time.”
Supervisor at Cathedral Square food shop Greggs, Trina Lancaster, was hopeful that revellers would return fresh from England’s glory ready for a bite to eat.
She said: “Business has been really good throughout the day. But when the game started we weren’t as busy as you usually would be at that time of the day.
“Hopefully when it’s full-time and people leave the venues, we will be back up again.”
However, staff at the O2 shop, in Cathedral Square, were forced to rely on the sounds of fans at nearby bars to find out what was happening during the match.
Sales advisor Mark Jones said: “It’s been an average day for us but then it went really quiet as soon as the football kicked off.
“We aren’t allowed to watch the match, so we have been watching on our iPhones, but there’s so many people doing that, that it ended up crashing.”
The empty streets were a boon for non-football fans, like Dawn Correa, of Sprignall, in Bretton.
The 31-year-old took her six-yearold daughter Aaliyah Diaz for a shopping trip.
She said: “I’m not into football because I think it’s pointless. I would be if I thought we had a chance of winning anything.
“It’s been lovely in town because everyone’s been watching the football instead of shopping.”
Aaliyah enjoyed splashing in the Cathedral Square fountains before they were turned off at 4.30pm for when fans spilled out of pubs and bars.
It was a similar story at Serpentine Green Shopping Centre, in Hampton, Peterborough.
But while the aisles of the centre were free from punters, it left many staff able to find ingenious ways of watching the game.
Jenny Ridlington, deputy manager at Tesco, in Serpentine Green, said: “It is not usually this quiet, but we were expecting it.
“Half the staff are watching the game in the staff canteen and the other half have been watching it in the TV section.
“We were very busy this morning, with people stocking up for the game and for barbecues.
“We had one man who filled his trolley full with beer and snacks. It is always like this during the big tournaments.”
However, it was not just the city’s shops which took a dip in trade for 90 minutes as England secured their progress to the second round of the tournament.
Taxi driver Mohammed Khan, who has been in the trade for five years, said it had been a quiet afternoon for cabbies.
But instead of whiling away his extra free-time as he waited for fares at Peterborough station, Mr Khan listened intently to the match in his black cab.
He said: “It’s been a very quiet day. But I’m supporting England and I hope they can go on and win the trophy.
“If they play like they played in this match then I think they have every chance.”
A number of Peterborough-based firms also let their staff move away from their desks to watch the game unfold, including Norwich & Peterborough, in Lynch Wood.
Spokesperson Alison Rolls said; “It was fantastic game we could really get behind.
“The atmosphere was electric, we were on the edge of our seats and we’re so glad we won.”
OFF THE STREETS: People deserted the city streets and crowded into bars including the Brewery Tap
EMPTY: Desks at Norwich and Peterborough during the big match. (METP-23-06-10RH30)