Twenty years on, it was still a grudge match

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The Independent Online

On the Falkland Islands, the grudge match caused a phenomenon unknown to its hardy inhabitants – a traffic jam.

On the Falkland Islands, the grudge match caused a phenomenon unknown to its hardy inhabitants – a traffic jam.

The congestion, which one islander said had never happened before, occurred when more than 10 per cent of the population – almost 300 people – packed Stanley's largest drinking establishment to watch England compete against their former foe.

"It's a big one for us," said Julie Clarke, the landlady of the Globe Tavern, who had gained a special licence, set up a big screen and decked the traditional pub in bunting. Gathered near a display dedicated to the Royal Marines, who played a crucial part in liberating the islands two decades ago, the drinkers belted out "Rule Britannia" as England triumphed.

Shouting to be heard, Bill Chater, a carpenter, 25, said: "The mood here is fantastic. It's 20 years since the war but this is still a bit of a special one for us. In 1998 [when Argentina beat England] I was devastated and I went to bed for the rest of the day but now I have just taken the day off."

Lisa Riddell, the editor of Penguin News, the local newspaper, said: "The atmosphere is electric, euphoric, ecstatic. Falkland islanders are big football fans anyway but the fact it was Argentina just adds to the excitement. People are tooting their horns in the streets and I can see locals and soldiers wrapped in flags."

Almost everything halted for the game. Government House allowed its workers to arrive after the game, magistrates postponed hearings and school children were given time off.

But a week before the 20th anniversary of the end of the war, most brushed off suggestions that their support was tinged with a desire for revenge. The landlady said: "This is sport, not politics, and the majority of people think you shouldn't bring politics into football." The islands' governor, Donald Lamont, added: "Some people may try to crank it up for political reasons but most people here just wanted to see a good sporting match and England winning."

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