US cheers as England winces

Fans in London and Washington DC

As England and the US went head-to-head in the World Cup, fans in the respective capital cities celebrated in their own unique way, writes Claire Heald in London and Finlo Rohrer in Washington DC.

In London, fans swarmed to pubs to watch big screens, like at the crammed patio garden of the Duke of Edinburgh, in Brixton.

In Washington DC, the flashpoint for World Cup enthusiasm was at an outdoor event in Dupont Circle where thousands gathered to watch the clash on big screens.


Big screen in the pub Fans gathered in front of homemade screens

There is a Rainbow Nation feel in the home of football.

As well as the natives, there are Kiwis and Aussies with England-flag face-painted cheeks; Dutch, cloaked not in their traditional orange but the red and white of St George, and a Chilean-Peruvian Saturday football squad extending their regular post-match beer and sitting right in the centre of things.

For each, England is their second home, their second country to support. The barbecue meat is sizzling, sofas have been carried outside to supplement the picnic tables. But the vibe is nervous-anxious-confidence.

Hundreds of fans face a big screen that's home-made. No big budget spent here.

The crowd at Dupont Circle Thousands gathered in Dupont Circle in central Washington DC

Dupont Circle is usually home on a Saturday to a varied bunch of sunseekers, impromptu picnickers and speed chess players.

But for the big match they are replaced by a young, mixed crowd in high spirits, generated by the heat, pumping music and an electric sense of anticipation for a one-off sporting battle.

The atmosphere is a little bit less alcohol-fuelled than its equivalent in the UK would be, often feeling more like a rock festival than a sporting occasion.


Typical England fans The fans were reserving the extreme face-painting for later

In the midst of the proverbial melting pot stands Jamie Dunkley, wrapped in an England flag. He inhabits the typical England fan demeanour: Nervous, but hopeful.

"Just being an England fan, our opening games are always nervy," he says. "Every tournament, you go in dreaming of a bit of glory."

Like some of his counterparts in South Africa, he's finding the deafening vuvuzela horns that are fast becoming a trademark of the tournament "really irritating". But in this match at least "you can hear the Great Escape being played over them".

Painted fans Many people had gone to great lengths to support their team

Many of those seeing the match are football novices. It's possible to hear the odd conversation about what happens in the event of a draw, and earnest explanations of the offside law.

But nearly everybody in the crowd is bullish beforehand, expecting a win.

Caroline Kenney, wearing a Stars and Stripes sponge hat, is half English but is still supporting the US. She won't countenance defeat.

"I'm not going to answer that. The answer is so obvious."



For the men, England shirts, red, or white like the team on screen before them. Face painting is just a subtle England flag to the cheek. No crazy hats.

For the women, there are a couple of England strips, but it's mostly a red shoe here, red hair-flower there. Dutch fan Joyce Schouten is supporting England from behind some St George Cross sunglasses that would look more at home on a dance terrace in Ibiza.

But the fan dress code is muted. It's the first game, of the first round. Should England manage to play better than this and progress, there will be plenty of time to increase the England garb.

Man dressed as George Washington Some fans ignored the baking heat in their costume choices

With temperatures in excess of 32C (90F) and sapping humidity, many male fans are bare-chested save for a Stars and Stripes worn as a cape. There are plenty of face and body painted US colours.

Outstanding costume award probably has to go to either of the gentlemen dressed as soldiers from the American War of Independence - or Revolutionary War as it is better known here.

Dean Howarth says he is a fanatical football fan. "Otherwise I wouldn't be here in a polyester revolutionary war costume [in the heat]."

In the crowd was a tiny sprinkling of England fans, even a father and son in matching Rooney-emblazoned shirts.


England fans It was all too much for some nervous England fans

Not much, especially after the US equalised late in the first half. Some choruses of "Come on England", a bit of "We've got Ledley at the back" until King limped off with a groin strain.

But with no roof on the pub garden to hot-house the sound, no sudden-death nature to the group game and an excruciating performance from England for the fans, there was little to sing about.

There was, however, one vuvuzela, to bring the sound of South Africa 2010 to south London. Owned by accountant Pete Stevens, who, fresh back from a trip to the country, paid 60p for it and feels he "missed a trick" in not importing them by the crate-load.

Banner insulting the Spice Girls There were attempts at boisterous humour

"USA, USA" is as sophisticated as the chanting ever got. There were attempts by MCs to try and add some variety, but they failed. If you've got the world's easiest chant why change?

Far more spirited was the booing as England players came up on the big screens, with the loudest jeering reserved for a stony-faced David Beckham, in his England staff role, after the equaliser.


England fans with open-mouthed England fans were sometimes open-mouthed with joy, sometimes horror

There were two. Four minutes into the match and England fans watching ITV's high definition channel here were left open-mouthed - not at Steven Gerrard's early opener, but at the car advert that interrupted play instead. Let's hope they've sent the TV equivalent of Fabio Capello to have a word with whoever pushed the button to cut to a car ad during England's only goal of the match.

Seasoned England fans may have expected the Grand Canyon style low that, just before half time, followed the scoring high. Most supporters here mirrored the hands-on-head foetal position goalkeeper Robert Green adopted on the pitch, when his bungled ball-handling skills let the US equalise.


USA's goal. An explosion of cheers, several rounds of "USA, USA" and a much-heightened atmosphere resulted.

But Robert Green tipping Jozy Altidore's effort onto the bar also provided gasps, and most of the greatest moments of tension surrounded the US defence coping with England's attacks.

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