Northampton pubs benefitting from England's historic route to Euros final after coronavirus woes
'The atmosphere was amazing, it's been like normal times'
The European Championships and England's historic journey to the final have been a welcome boost to pubs in Northampton - with Sunday set to be a belter.
Pubs across the country, including Northampton, have been packed with supporters for the past month, within the coronavirus restrictions, as people want to enjoy the unique atmosphere.
The financial and psychological lifts could not have come at a better time with the pandemic causing so many issues for the sector, from being closed for so long to struggling with new rules, staffing and supplies.
Overstone Manor general manager Ross Messinger said: "It's been big, it's been massive.
"The problem is we only have a couple of screens so we've been scrabbling around trying to find more so more people can see it. I'm taking my own in on Sunday for the final!
"The atmosphere was amazing though, it's been like normal times."
Scenes of pub-goers celebrating wildly with every England goal have been seen across the country, with Northampton no exception.
Ross said he was worried about them breaching Covid rules but was pleased that all of his customers have been 'as good as gold'.
He and his staff at the Ecton Lane pub have also really enjoyed their shifts during the tournament more than usual sport, with them able to get into the spirit.
But it has not all been plain-sailing as the issues with finding workers who have got new jobs after the lockdowns can mean long shifts.
Liz Cox, the landlady at The Old Five Bells pub in Kingsthorpe, said some non-local customers can also get annoyed when they are told to abide by the restrictions.
"I do most shifts on my own but at the weekends I can't cope on my own," she said.
"The football is brilliant, the atmosphere is electric but trying to control it was a nightmare as you can't stop people from jumping up and cheering.
"But a lot of people were walking in without masks or walking to the bar, they weren't locals and then they get nasty with the staff."
The whole country is looking forward to the final against Italy on Sunday evening and pubs will be making the most of the occasion.
Ross said bookings have gone through the roof with them constantly trying to find more screens to put on more tables to accommodate more people.
"I'm really looking forward to Sunday night. We're full at the minute and have been since Thursday. If we get another screen then we put on more tables but they go so fast," he said.
"I want to get as many as I can as we've got a waiting list for tables so if I can get more screens then I will let them know.
"But people are asking all the time, one lady called saying we were the ninth pub they had tried and I had to let her down too."