If faith is measured by the number of flags displayed in support of their team, then Chris Doves and Alan Batman fall under the category of semi-religious faith. Since 2012, with every big football match, two residents of Kirby Garden have covered this inexpensive family garden in south-east London with English flags. Everywhere, the crosses of St. George – red on a white background – hang from balconies and ditches, which hang from one side of the building to the other.
Chris and Allen estimate about four hundred. A group of young scouts who came to the scene recently proved them wrong: there are seven hundred of them, including the flag. British newspapers speak “The most patriotic street” From the United Kingdom. Chris, in the sun in his little garden chair, and Allen, who wore the England team jersey, do not hide their pride.
After a clear victory over Germany (2-0) in the previous round, England will face Ukraine in Rome in the quarter-finals of Euro 2021 on Saturday July 3. The hereditary enemy, who had won many victories that still shocked the English supporters, was finally attacked. Suddenly, all hope is allowed.
‘Portugal, Germany, France deleted, Chris recalled. At our table, we have Ukraine, Denmark… we have a real chance to win. Better yet: we didn’t reach any goals in this game. The latter came to us in 1966. “ The index date, a true English talisman, signifies England’s last and only victory in a major international competition, in this case the World Cup.
Four days to decorate everything
Masters in self-mockery, the English made their main cry for a song written in the 1990s “Thirty years of pain” Of their last victory. “It must be renewed in fifty-five years”, Chris laughs and laughs more than he unleashes previous defeats: his childhood tears in the penalty shoot-out loss in the 1990 World Cup semi-final against Germany; His cold anger after the humiliating defeat (1-2) against Iceland in a match of the 2016 European Cup in Nice, where he made the trip.
Former amateur footballer Chris Doves insists: “The country shows that we are proud of where we come from.”
The story of Kirby Gardens is a nationalist tribute to the rest of the world. French, Scottish and Portuguese flags slide between the crosses of Saint George … “If you are in competition, you can hoist your flag”, Chris explains. Former amateur footballer, goalkeeper who came close to a professional career and played with Rio Ferdinand from an early age, is interested in: “It’s to show that we’re proud of where we’re from, no matter where the country is.”
The idea of decorating the Kirby Garden gradually arose from a few locals, who displayed a few more flags with each friendly match. In 2012, Chris, Allen, and a third neighbor decided to take this seriously. Since then, with each match, the presentation becomes a little more complete. This year, it took four days to decorate everything.
The initiative brought together the inhabitants. In 2018, the whole community will gather outdoors to watch the UK-Columbia Games around the world, with one satellite dish plugging into the other, using another giant screen, and stretching out large tarps to avoid the glare from the sun. Two Colombian families in the building danced to Latin music with the English in the building’s courtyard despite lost fines. “This is where the real spirit of football lives”, Allen promised.
To be followed live on Ukraine-England, Saturday July 3 at 9 p.m., at the Olympic stadium in Rome, and on Lemonde.fr
Selection of our articles on Euro 2021