Within five minutes of England defeating Denmark at the Euro 2020 semi-final last week, O’Hagans pub at Auckland’s Viaduct took 180 bookings for people wanting to cheer on the Brits at their first-ever final — despite the fact it’ll air at an absurdly early hour on a Monday, the groggiest and most maligned of all workweek mornings.
The bar’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing since.
While officially an Irish pub — it’ll be serving a full Irish breakfast after opening to football fans at 6am tomorrow — there’s no question as to where support lies.
“England all the way,” said general manager Daniel Walsh, explaining that for past games attendance has consisted of about 99 per cent England fans. With a capacity of about 450, Walsh reckons there will be a full crowd by the time the match starts.
The pub is one of many businesses throughout Auckland waking up staff early to get in on the excitement.
At Gina’s Italian Kitchen in Eden Terrace, which also open at 6am, different loyalties can be expected.
The owners love football in general so would probably show the final regardless of whether Italy was a contender for the Euro crown for the fourth time, said manager Cristian Rus. The restaurant hasn’t taken advance bookings, but with Italy within the grasp of champion status, she also expects a full house.
“We are full of flags. Everything is already set,” Rus said of the excitement. “For the neighbours, I apologise. We are going to make some noise.”
For those braving the pre-dawn chill, the restaurant will be serving coffee and Italian doughnuts, called bomboloni.
England has been unbeaten in 16 of their last 17 matches. Italy, meanwhile, has had a streak of 33 undefeated games. But England now has both the home-field advantage and the enthusiasm among fans that comes with never having made it to a Euro final before.
That enthusiasm has been on show in New Zealand in recent weeks as both sides fought their way to the final.
“England on fire!” British High Commissioner to New Zealand Laura Clarke posted on Twitter after the team beat Ukraine on July 4, revealing her jangled nerves four days later as she attended a pre-sunrise viewing of the next match against Denmark.
“Obviously great excitement!” she told the Herald of the final, explaining that she will host a viewing of the game at her residence in Wellington.
The Italian Embassy will also host a watch party, at Garibaldi Clubrooms in Wellington.
Gianpaolo Grazioli, owner of well-known Auckland ice cream parlour Giapo, has likewise had some early mornings as he supported his home team.
“We have been watching the games and we are excited by the long streak of victories,” he told the Herald, explaining that he will be rising early again tomorrow to watch the final match with his family.
De Post, a Belgian beer cafe in Mt Eden that is also hosting a watch party, would appear to be neutral territory for football fans. But that’s only true to a certain extent, said duty manager Enya Morton.
“The crowd, I think, is really English (supporters), but our GM is Italian,” she said of the mixed feelings among staff — if not patrons.
The business has been opening for the England matches during the Euro 2020 — helping out, in part, with “overspill” crowds due to enormous interest at sister bars The Paddington in Parnell and Malt Public House in Grey Lynn. All three venues are fully booked for the final.
“There’s been huge interest in it,” Morton said, explaining that the venue will start off serving coffee and breakfast.
Alcohol sales at De Post and O’Hagans begin at 8am. By mid-morning, it ought to be known if those drinks will be celebratory or to drown some Monday morning sorrows.
How to catch the action at home
The Herald will provide live updates on nzherald.co.nz/sport. The ACC will have live commentary of the match on iHeartRadio.
The match will be broadcast live on Sky Sport 7. If you want to watch the match online, you can stream the game live via Sky Sport Now.
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