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England's World Cup campaign gives huge boost to Medway's pubs

By Clare Freeman

England’s World Cup campaign may not have got off to the best of starts, but hopes are still running high in the Towns.

The late match on Saturday night saw many pubs open until the early hours, with fans packed in to watch the game against Italy.

The Cricketers in Gillingham. L-R: barmaids Nina D'Souza, Sally Scutts, landlord Stephen McNoughton with daughters, Ellie (5) and Libby (11) and barmaid Gemma Thompson

Although England came back from a goal down, it wasn’t enough to stop the Italians running out 2-1 winners.

But Saturday night was not a complete disappointment, as the World Cup is a welcome boost for pub owners.

The industry has suffered during the recession, and increased alcohol prices and the smoking ban have seen customer numbers fall.

Ben Devlin, assistant manager at The Cricketers, in Gillingham, said they get a big boost in sales from the matches.

The Cricketers is showing every game and Mr Devlin said that while inevitably they get the biggest turnout for England games, Spain and Brazil are also popular.

Speaking after the match, he said: “It was really busy. Even though England lost, everyone was still in good spirits.”

Stephen McNoughton, landlord at The Cricketers in Gillingham

Licensing laws have been relaxed during the tournament to allow for the late kick-off times. England’s match against Italy started at 11pm.

Charlotte McHenry, a team leader at The Prince of Wales, Chatham, said: “As it was a late match, we weren’t sure what the turnout was going to be but it was really good, it was really busy.

"The next two games are earlier so we’ll hopefully get more people coming from work and buying food.”

Peter Kray at The Crown in Rochester

Extended licensing was not a concern for The Casino Rooms in Rochester, which aired the game on two giant 30ft screens.

Owner Aaron Stone said, apart from the result, the night was “nothing short of immense”.

He added: “The huge main upstairs room was touching capacity by about 10.30pm and had an incredible atmosphere.

“Fans consoled themselves with the disappointing result by clubbing into the early hours.”

The club will be showing England’s next game against Uruguay on Thursday, with free entry from 6.30pm.

Landlords will be making the most of the boost to sales, as with England’s track record, it might not last long.

Peter Kray, manager of The Crown in Rochester, said there was a great atmosphere on Saturday, but “as soon as England go out, people lose interest in the tournament and the way they played last night, they could be out pretty soon.”

Despite longer drinking hours, Kent Police said there were no major incidents.

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