Is it coming home? Legions of British football fans will fill the pubs on Grand Cayman Wednesday afternoon as England seeks to move one step closer to a World Cup championship.
England’s team, dubbed the Three Lions, is two wins away from hoisting the World Cup for the first time since 1966, and it can move into the finals with a victory over Croatia on Wednesday.
Many of Cayman’s bars are expecting a huge wave of interest for the England game, continuing a trend that has seen establishments opening as early as 9 a.m. to show the early World Cup games.
“We have a good number of staff, but it’s almost never enough,” said Andrea Watler of Fidel Murphy’s. “England’s definitely been the biggest draw, but we’ve also had quite a bit of Peruvians. It’s just been really big. Even outside has been busy. We’ve had a satellite ‘kegerator’ outside selling Caybrew.”
Chris Parsons, manager of the Pirate’s Den bar, said he expects to have double the usual number of staff working on Wednesday, and he’s expecting a memorable occasion fueled by a voracious audience.
“We expect a very big crowd. We expect to be full,” he said. “We don’t really have the singers. They cheer and they watch the game. If you want the singing, you go to Fidel Murphy’s. The people that we get say, ‘Fidel’s is so packed that we can’t even see the game.’ That’s why they come here.”
Lone Star, one of the biggest sports bars in Cayman, is expecting another large crowd on Wednesday, where it is offering Red Stripe and fajitas specials to keep the audience sated.
Darren Baber, the operations manager for Royal Palms, said he does not expect an additional influx of people for Wednesday’s game, but he does expect the lunch crowd to be boisterous.
“Obviously, being an outdoor venue, it’s hard to have good viewing,” he said. “Generally, we have the cruise ship crowds in while the games are on, so at the end of the games, the bar is pretty surrounded and everyone’s paying attention to the TV when it’s on. A lot of attention from all of our customers.”
Croatia made the semifinals of the World Cup in 1998, and a victory over England on Wednesday would put them in the championship match for the very first time. England was knocked out in the Group Stage four years ago, and had not qualified for the semifinals since finishing fourth in 1990.
Both teams will be playing for posterity and a chance to etch their names in the annals of football. Tashana Steele, who works at Legendz Bar and Grille, said that England and Brazil games have brought large crowds to the establishment, and she hopes the World Cup comes to an exciting conclusion.
“The England games have definitely been a packed day,” she said of the atmosphere at Legendz. “It’s a big game. People are going to shout and jump around if their team wins. We have all of that.”