Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Jason Mag: From Russia with Love for Magpies and England

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Jason Mag: From Russia with Love for Magpies and England

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK DOUGLAS Football editor

FOR the second time in the space of a few days, a small corner of the Russian capital Moscow will be turned black-and-white. Today at 3.30pm the Blacksmith Irish Pub next to Moscow's Belorusskaya metro station will be the venue for an impromptu meet-up of travelling Newcastle fans with locals who support the Magpies from hundreds of miles away.

If you wanted a sign of football's power to bring people together, this is surely it. And for organiser Evgeny Kolobrodov - known as Jason Mag to his thousands of followers on Twitter - it is the culmination of a month he says he has spent in "dreamland".

"This World Cup is like a fairytale," he says. "It's like a dream - there are so many lovely people here from all around the world and it's a great atmosphere. It has been an absolute joy."

That dream is one which millions of England fans hope they won't have to wake up from tonight when the Three Lions take on Croatia in a World Cup semi-final.

No one who has been to Russia to support England has had a bad word to say about their hosts and, unsurprisingly, Moscow's many offerings have won over anyone who doubted that this World Cup would be a success.

"I hope this tournament has changed perceptions of our country," Evgeny says.

"Our people welcome everyone and they love football too. I can't stand all this propaganda in British media - we have no desire to beat (up) everyone who supports another country and we're really sad there are not too many England fans here.

"But maybe in future we'll see more fans here, especially from Tyneside. We welcome everyone here!" That welcome will be extended to the Irish pub in Moscow today, when at least a few of the England fans from Newcastle will raise a pint to the fortunes of the Three Lions.

With Russia out, Evgeny's loyalties will lie with England. And he says that despite what might have been said before the tournament, there's plenty of locals who feel the same. …

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