Gareth Southgate’s team have got the whole country talking and taking an interest in football – and Hastings chief Billy Wood believes there will be a ripple effect that can boost all levels of the game.
Past successes for England at major tournaments have seen football attendances grow across the country and Wood says there’s no reason the non-league game won’t see new fans giving live matches a try after getting hooked throughout Euro 2020.
The Pilot Bar has been showing England matches and was buzzing for Wednesday night’s semi-final – and will be again when England play Italy in Sunday’s final.
But Wood said Hastings would not simply be relying on the England factor to get people packing into games this season – they knew they had to create their own success on the field to ensure big crowds kept coming back.
Wood said: “England’s run has been fantastic and I do think there could be a ripple effect down to football at all levels.
“There could be a lot of new football fans and we’ll be pleased to welcome any that come to us. But ultimately it’s about what we do as club that will ensure people come to watch our teams.”
Wood was speaking in the week when Hastings fans were able to watch their team in action for the first time in 2021.
Their first pre-season friendly – just a day after the squad had returned to training – brought a 4-0 win at AFC Uckfield, in which young players Charlie Holmwood, JJ Walker, Harvey Mapstone, Harry Simmons, Jamal Lubanga and Freddie Legg all made their first-team debuts, along with new signing Sam Hasler.
They now play friendlies at Walton, Eastbourne Utd, Westfield, Alresford, Eastbourne Town and Biggleswade before the first home match – Sam Adams’ testimonial against Spurs under-23s on July 27.
Wood said: “It was nice to be watching a game and seeing familiar faces. With all sections of the club, we’ve worked hard to put everything in place for the season ahead and we can’t wait to get started. We look forward to seeing everyone back.”