World Cup fever is due to sweep Scotland this afternoon as fans gather to watch their old adversary in a showdown with Sweden in the crucial quarter- final at the eye-catching £204 million Samara Arena.
Bars and clubs are expecting record takings as customers enjoy a major game on a Saturday, with the added bonus of big screens at outdoor seating venues during the summer heat wave.
Locals have made their oppostion known by hanging Swedish flags out their windows and flying them from flagpolesSTEVE CARTER Unst, Shetland
One of the biggest gathering of Swedish fans will be in Edinburgh.
Mike Christopherson, a Swedish businessman who co-owns a number of Swedish bars and restaurants in Edinburgh, including Hemma, Akva, Boda, Sofi’s and Joseph Pearce’s, said he was showing the game at all his venues.
“Akva and Pearce’s will be the biggest hubs with up to a 100 at Akva with the screens outside. We’ve had phone calls and emails all week from the Swedish-Scottish community wanting to come along.
“We are expecting about 70 per cent of the customers to be Swedish and 30 per cent Scottish, English and tourists.
“It’ll all be good-natured but we want to win.
“We’ve also made our own cocktail called The Champion Spritzer made of Scandanavian akvavit, gin, elderflower cordial, lemon juice and mint.”
At Scotland’s most northerly pub, at the Saxa Vord resort, Unst, in the Shetland Isles, manager Steve Carter, originally from Lavant near Chichester, said he would be wearing his England top under his shirt to watch the game.
“I can’t put my flags up, and I won’t be painting my face I don’t want to antagonise the locals. I’m thinking their might be reprisals on a small island,” he joked.
“If we happen to win I’ll be ripping off my shirt and there will be England flags flying here for years to come. Not that we like to brag.”
Mr Carter added: “Locals here have made their opposition known by hanging Swedish flags out their windows, and flying them from flagpoles. They did the same with Columbian flags when we played them. But it’s all friendly banter. And that’s what football has always been about.”
However, some establishments are taking a business as usual approach.
Laura Shephard, manager of The Scotsman Lounge in Cockburn Street, off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, said: “We’ll have the telly on in the background, but that’s it.
“Most people, especially our regulars, come here for the music. We’ll have two guys performing at the time of the game – one doing contemporary music and the other does country and western. It’s all very eclectic. But folk can watch the TV if they want.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stopped short of publicly backing England. The last country she wished good luck to crashed out of the competition.
Ahead of the match, Ms Sturgeon said she did not want to jinx the match after previously declaring support for Germany before their clash with South Korea, only to see the world champions lose.
Addressing the FutureFest conference in London, Ms Sturgeon said: “I would wish England all the very best for the match tomorrow, but I should tell you that the last time I wished a country good luck in the World Cup was 11 days ago and I was in Berlin, so that didn’t work out very well.
“So, maybe I’ll just let discretion be my watch word today.”