England mourns World Cup loss


LONDON, AP

Cheers turned to tears across England on Friday as an estimated 30 million people watched their beloved soccer team take an early lead but lose its World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil.

“Our dream is over,” said Chris Melotte, 34, after the 2-1 loss. England’s only World Cup title came in 1966.

More than 5 million fans made early morning visits to about 25,000 pubs to watch the match from Shizuoka, Japan, which kicked off at 700 a.m. in England.

At the Larrick Pub in Putney in southwest London, men wept at TV pictures of England captain David Beckham consoling distraught goalkeeper David Seaman. The winning goal early in the second half came when Ronaldinho’s free kick arced over Seaman’s head.

“I’m gutted,” said Melotte. “To do so well and then stumble like we did hurts so much. But we will win it in 2006.”

Steve Stacey, 34, who drank three pints of lager over breakfast during the game, was shattered at the final whistle.

“Words can’t describe how I feel right now,” he said.

Hundreds filed out of pubs to the Putney Bridge underground subway station to make the long journey into work. Thomas Henderson, 24, changed out of his replica England shirt into a suit and tie in front of onlookers on the station platform.

“I’ve got a job interview at an I.T. firm in 45 minutes, but I really couldn’t care less at the moment,” said Henderson. “I don’t think I’m really in the mood.”

Train carriages not normally crowded after the usual rush hour were packed with forlorn-looking commuters.

“Talk about a depressing train journey,” said Lachlan Pane, 25, his head in his hands.

In Oxford Street, about 300 Brazilians living in London danced out of the Bar Madrid after the match, banging samba drums and blowing whistles in the street.

In Seville, Spain, Prime Minister Tony Blair, attending a European summit meeting, told Britain’s Press Association that he was “devastated” by the loss. “But before we went into the tournament, who would ever have thought we would have come this far?” said Blair, who rearranged some of his meetings to watch the match on television.

Tens of thousands of fans, some draped in English flags, crowded into Trafalgar Square in central London, taking advantage of a decision by a foreign exchange company to erect a 32-meter (90-foot) square screen.

An hour after the match ended, a few hundred die-hard fans sat in one corner of the beer-can littered square singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

The Daily Mirror tabloid newspaper, in a stark comment on England’s 36 year World Cup drought, summed up the match’s importance to the country when it ran an almost-blank front page Friday.

It contained a small English flag and the words: “This page is cancelled. Nothing else matters.”

British charity group The Samaritans agreed, saying the loss could cause an influx of callers to their help lines.

“All the World Cup could do is act as a trigger to people who are already suffering from depression or distress,” said a spokesman.