Residents on a Bermondsey estate which went viral after they covered it in 300 England flags say they have been “overwhelmed” by the reaction, which included a video call from players in the England squad.
Every year on St George’s Day, residents on the Kirby Estate off Southwark Park Road dust off their England flags and proudly hang them out on their balconies in an impressive display.
And for this year’s World Cup they decided to go one step further, buying in more than 70 extra England flags especially for the occasion and flying flags from other countries.
But never did they imagine that their estate would go viral overnight after the News reported on their support – and that just a couple of days later they would come face to face with members of the England squad.
Speaking to the News, Geraldine Howard, 52, and Alan Putman, 48, who helped put all of the flags up with Chris Dowse, 39, admitted they were a “little bit overwhelmed”.
“It has been overwhelming because we’re not celebrities, we’re just normal people who go to work every day and all of a sudden bam,” said Geraldine, a pharmacy advisor who has lived on the estate for 29 years.
“You’ve got to cheer on your country and we just feel like there’s so much negative stuff going on in the world at the moment it just cheers everyone up; the kids love it and it just brings everyone together.”
“The best thing, I’ll be honest with you, was the FaceTime video link to the England players,” added Alan, who works for Speedy tool hire and has lived there for eleven years.
“They got in touch with Chris and set up a live video link and asked which football team we support and we support Liverpool – unfortunately it’s not just all Millwall supporters round here – and the guy said he’d try to get Jordan Henderson.
“I was in my St George outfit and they started talking to Jordan and then Trent Alexander-Arnold came in to wish him happy birthday and he was there, so it was fantastic because it was two Liverpool players as well as England players.
“We just chatted to them; it was brilliant. That really was the icing on the cake.”
The pair said they couldn’t have pulled it off without the support of the rest of the estate – and that they had something even bigger up their sleeves for the next World Cup.
“I just hope that other estates will lead from this, because there is so much negativity in the world maybe this might bring a bit of happiness into the world and cheer the country up,” said Alan.
“People associate the St George’s Cross with racism or political issues, but it’s not about that at all,” Geraldine added.
“As you can see we’ve got other flags up we’ve got Spanish, Moroccan, Portuguese, Polish, and French.”
The friends admitted it would “hurt” them to take the flags down if England is knocked out of the tournament – especially since it took four and a half days to put them up in the first place – but said they’d be happy as long as the team tries its best.
“It will hurt us taking them down but if they play well and give it their best then I don’t mind, as long as they give it their best,” said Alan.
“We did ask the England players if they could bring the World Cup home for us and they did say they’d try.”
After winning 2-1 to Tunisia on Monday, England will next play Panama on June 24.