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Review of the Year: the highs and lows of Euro 2020 played out in Southwark

Southwark was gripped with football fever over the summer as England made their way to the final of Euro 2020, only for the nation’s hopes to be dashed in the final by Italy.

Despite the sad ending, the News covered plenty of good times along the way, including the residents of the Kirby Estate in Bermondsey decking out their homes in England flags yet again. The Kirby Estate’s full-on display of patriotism even made the front page of the June 10 edition.

The display, which was the Kirby’s biggest yet, took four days to put up, according to the ‘three musketeers’ who organised the flags. But this year, more than ever, the sense of community the display brought out was vital, residents said.

The front page of our June 10 edition

“It’s obviously been a tough year for everyone and people have sometimes kept to themselves but it’s amazing, as soon as you get the flags up it makes such a big difference,” said Chris Dowse, who helped organise the flags. “Suddenly people are out and talking to each other, you see the barbecues getting going – it’s great.”

Euro 2020: Bermondsey’s Kirby Estate once again flies the flag for England

Kirby Estate residents also showed a classy touch when tragedy almost struck for Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen, with Chris and others wearing t-shirts wishing him a speedy recovery.

Kirby Estate: Bermondsey’s biggest England fans show support for Christian Eriksen

Even though England ultimately lost, the feel-good atmosphere the team created on their journey to the final meant that people wanted to celebrate and commemorate their efforts – and the way the young players carried themselves on and off the pitch.

Camberwell’s Jadon Sancho was awarded the freedom of Southwark – the highest civic award the council can give – for the part he played in England’s strong performance. Mayor Barrie Hargrove went so far as to call him “a diamond in Southwark’s crown”, while council leader Kieron Williams said he was “an incredible role model to our young people” and “one of the best sportspeople this country has”.

Jadon Sancho: Euro 2020 star to be awarded Freedom of Southwark

In Vinegar Yard by London Bridge station, a mural commissioned by London mayor Sadiq Khan was unveiled to celebrate England captain Harry Kane, star forward Raheem Sterling and manager Gareth Southgate.

Vinegar Yard: mural unveiled to England’s Euro 2020 heroes

The mural, painted by street art group Murwalls, was intended as a tribute to the entire team and the leadership of Southgate. “On and off the field, he and his players are true role models for young Londoners,” Murwalls founder Marc Silver said.

Sadly, not everyone reacted with the same sense of pride to England’s performance. After the team lost, the three young black players who missed penalties in the shootout were subjected to vile racist abuse – including Camberwell’s Sancho.

Jadon Sancho: man admits racially abusing Camberwell-born footballer and other England stars

Bradford Pretty, 49, of Folkestone in Kent, posted a video of himself on his Facebook account after the final where he made racist slurs about Sancho, Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford and was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work and 50 days in custody suspended for twelve months. He was also fined £85.

Sancho said in the aftermath of the final in July that the abuse was “nothing new”. He added in a social media post: “As a society, we need to do better and hold these people accountable. Hate will never win.” He also thanked fans for “the positive messages and love and support that far outweighed the negative.”

Brandon Estate: family now allowed to keep flying England flags after council backtracks

There was also much milder controversy during the tournament after the council told a family on the Brandon Estate in Camberwell to take down some tiny England flags because they were a fire risk. They were later allowed to put them back up.

‘Why can’t England fans watch?’: Anger at Tower Bridge fan zone that doesn’t show England games

Elsewhere, there were complaints about the Potters Fields Park fan zone by Tower Bridge not showing England games, because it was meant to be family friendly. Some local residents were unhappy with the implication that England fans could not be part of a family atmosphere.


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