AN 8PM kick-off is expected to peak interest in tonight’s must-win World Cup match between England and Uruguay, and the pubs of Swindon are ready.
The late-night fixture on Saturday saw some interest tail off in Roy’s boys’ opening encounter with Italy, but boozers across the town are expecting large turn-outs tonight.
Wiltshire Police is also anticipating another night of close attention on pubs and clubs around town, win, lose or draw.
Kim McMurray, a member of the bar staff at the Bakers Arms in Beechcroft Road, admits she herself fell asleep during England’s tight match with Italy on Saturday which kicked off at 11pm.
However, she is expecting a raucous atmosphere in the Stratton watering hole tonight.
“We’ve only had one England match, so it’s quite hard to tell exactly what turnout we are going to get tonight,” she said.
“We normally get a few people in for the football as it is, but because the last England match was a late one, it’s hard to get a bearing for what’s to come.
“It’s always good for football up here and there’s plenty of banter flying around from all the regulars. It’s normally locals who come in, but there will be the odd one from out of town every so often.”
The Saracens Head is expected to lead the way with atmosphere for the match in Highworth. Manager AJ Mitchell said he is confident the earlier kick-off will be a blessing for trade.
“We have a 50-inch television out on the patio, which is always well-received,” he said. “I would think there will be 40 to 50 people here tonight.
“A lot of people decided to stay at home for the match on Saturday, given how late it was.”
The Sun Inn will be offering chance again for those living in Coate to be amongst a big crowd as Liverpool team-mates Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez go head-to-head.
Live music is also planned for the pub tonight, which is expected to boost numbers, but force the large screen there out from the main lounge into the conservatory.
Barman Callum Wells said: “It should be very busy in here. Our Thursdays are normally good as it is, so an England game will only boost that.
“We had a decent turnout on Saturday with a stag do in here too, so something similar would be good.”
Superintendent Gavin Williams has said there will be more officers on patrol tonight than there were for the first match against Italy, but there were no football-related lessons to be learned from Saturday night.
“Incidents were very low throughout the entire force on Saturday. There was unrelated disorder after we had stood down the World Cup operation,” he said.
“I was out and about all evening and I found it was not busy and there were no incidents.
“We are expecting there to be more people around than there would normally be on a Thursday night and we would think people will start drinking earlier in the day, and with that comes the risk of more alcohol-related issues.
“There will be enough staff on duty for robust response to any issues. We will focus on prevention rather than cure.”
Where to watch the game
If you are looking for somewhere to sample a lively atmosphere for tonight’s match, here are a list of venues billed as showing the 8pm kick-off:
- Mackenzies Cafe Bar, Wood Street
- The Plough, Devizes Road
- Twenty at the Kings, Wood Street
- The Clifton, Clifton Street
- The Sun Inn, Coate
- Rudi’s, Regent Circus
- Revolution, Bridge Street
- The County Ground Hotel, County Road
- Woodlands Edge, Midwinter Close
- The Windmill, Worsley Road
- The Tawny Owl, Taw Hill
- The Saracens Head, Market Place, Highworth
- The Moonrakers, Cricklade Road
- The Bakers Arms, Beechcroft Road