England band's instruments confiscated ahead of game

Members of the England Supports Band The England Supporters Band have attended England games for 16 years

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The England Supporters Band was unable to play at the team's first 2012 European Championship game after having their instruments confiscated at the stadium in Ukraine.

Band leader John Hemmingham said Monday's match against France was the first time the group had not played at an England game in 16 years.

The Sheffield-based band said it was working with the Football Association (FA) to resolve the issue.

The FA said it did not want to comment.

At football stadiums around the world there are often bans on certain items, but the band had been told arrangements had been made for them to be allowed in with their brass instruments and drums.

Mr Hemmingham said: "The FA had done all of the necessary agreements but it was overturned at the last minute.

"We got ready to play half an hour before kick-off and then stewards came up to us and said: 'No, we've made a mistake. You have to take the instruments out now, you can't play'.

"We had to put our instruments in storage."

The band, who are aged between 18 and 76 and provide music to add atmosphere to England games, sat through the game at the stadium in Donetsk, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

"It was kind of weird," Mr Hemmingham said. "Fans were asking where our instruments were."

Mr Hemmingham, who founded the band in 1993 when members played during Sheffield Wednesday games, said the band had met with the FA for reassurances for future games.

'Big worry'

He said the FA was working to resolve the issue before England's game on Friday against Sweden in Kiev and the match on Tuesday against Ukraine at the Donetski stadium.

Mr Hemmingham added: "We're very much hopeful that we'll get in at Kiev because it's a different stadium.

"The big worry will be when we come back to Donetsk, but I know the FA are trying very very hard," added Mr Hemmingham.

A spokesman for the FA said it would not comment on the matter until discussions had taken place.

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