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England’s ‘most patriotic estate’ gets the flags out for the Euros


People hanging England flags all over the Kirby estate in London.

The flag-clad Kirby estate in London is unrivalled in its support for the England men and women’s football teams (Picture: w8media)

England’s ‘most patriotic estate’ is hanging out the flags ahead of the first Euros kickoff this Friday.

The Kirby estate in Bermondsey, London, has a reputation for going all out when England’s football teams compete in the World Cup or European Championship’s.

As many as 700 flags flutter from poles and hang from bunting crisscrossing between balconies when football season arrives.

Walls are adorned with murals of the estate’s namesake, Lionesses midfielder Fran Kirby, a huge St George’s cross and the fallen soldiers of past wars.

It’s captured the imagination of England fans and even the team itself.

Ahead of the team’s first match against Serbia on Sunday, residents clad in oversized England hoodies are decorating the estate with hundreds of St George’s crosses.

‘Some would say it’s racist, but it’s not’, Chris Dowse, 45, said, acknowledging the flag’s appropriation by far-right activists like the English Defence League.

‘We are English, this is our country. People slate the flag and what it supposedly mean, but for us it means supporting Gareth [Southgate], the England boys and the Lionesses in whatever competition they’re taking part in.

‘It just makes you feel proud to be English, but knowing we’re going to lose.’

Chris Dowse, 45, has lived on the Kirby estate since 2010 (Picture: w8media)

Residents revealed a mural of Lionesses footballer Fran Kirby in 2022 (Picture: w8media)

Spend an afternoon on the estate and the word you’ll keep hearing is ‘inclusive’.

Martin, who displayed his Cameroon flag during the World Cup, said: ‘It’s very inclusive. It portrays a very welcome image.

‘When I have friends here during the football, the ambiance that’s around here, they’re all very happy.

‘I was just chatting with my wife and she’s planning what’s she’s going to cook on the day of the football – a nice meal, jollof rice with a lot of vegetables.’

In a world where people complain of not knowing their neighbours, this estate has held onto an almost old-fashioned sense of community.

They know each other by name, not just a face to nod at in passing.

Martin said: ‘It’s a very lovely community. People care about each other, they think about each other.

‘When I came here [three years ago during covid-19], the world had lots of problems, but they all ganged together.’

It hasn’t always been like that, according to Geraldine Howard, 58, who’s lived here for 35 years.

Geraldine Howard, 58, started the tradition with a single flag outside her flat in 2012 (Picture: w8media)

Alan Putman, 54, followed Geraldine’s lead and they’ve been adorning the estate with flags ever since (Picture: w8media)

Kids would hang out in stairwells, and taxis and delivery drivers would swerve the estate for fear of being mugged.

‘We always had a good community, we’ve always looked out for each other, for each other’s kids’, Geraldine said.

‘Obviously it wasn’t like this, but it’s getting better. I love coming home from work [at Boots] and …read more

Source:: Metro

      

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