HUNDREDS of Northern Ireland fans gathered at Ma Nelson’s pub on the Lisburn Road in Belfast yesterday before the match against Italy. As the sea of green and white relaxed with a Friday afternoon off work many of them took to the karaoke while others watched on and cheered.
Fan Alan McAleer was first to lead the singing with rendition of a Northern Ireland football favourite by Neil Diamond, Sweet Caroline.
He said: “We had a fantastic day, an absolute credit to the bar and the staff for everything. The only thing that would have made it better was three points at the end of the match. “Steve Davis was outstanding and the whole team did us proud.”
Throughout the afternoon and night bus-loads of supporters descended on the South Belfast bar before dozens of supporters clubs left for the walk to Windsor Park.
But as the match played out just less than a mile away many disappointed fans who couldn’t secure tickets to the big game stayed on to party. And it wasn’t long before the karaoke was up and running again with fans singing everything from Pink, Amy Winehouse and Johnny Cash to Bon Jovi, Dolly Parton and many many more versions of Sweet Caroline. Crystal Adair from Portavogie Supporters Club said: “About ten people traveled up from the Portavogie club, Ma Nelsons – or formerly Hunters would be a regular haunt for our supporters club. The karaoke was a good idea and a great laugh but many shouldn’t have bothered getting up at all. I went up for moral support but there was no singing from me.”
The match was good, it was a shame we didn’t win but it was better than getting beat.
Julie Atcheson also arrived with a squad of supporters from the Greyabbey Supporters Club and even took to stage herself.
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