West Belfast football fans fly flag for World Cup, backing teams from Egypt to England!

You are viewing content from Q North Coast 97.2. Would you like to make this your preferred location?
John O'Neill has drawn Belgium - and England!

Q Radio News

Football fans in west Belfast have turned their streets into giant World Cup sweepstakes, with each house flying the flag of a competing nation.

To coincide with kick-off in Russia, three streets are running their own events, to culminate with a street party for the final on July 15th.

Residents on Iris Drive, Gortfin Street and Whiterock Gardens are taking part.

The fact that neither Northern Ireland nor the Republic of Ireland have made it to the tournament has not dampened the enthusiasm of these fans more than 2,000 miles away.

The sweepstake was so popular in Whiterock Gardens that organiser Lindsay McCausland had to have two draws.

"What we did was we got all the flags in black bags and went around the doors so everyone pulled out a flag, and what they got was what they got," she said.

In what is a predominantly Irish nationalist neighbourhood, even the England flag was flying on the street alongside all the other nations.

Ms McCausland said some joked that if they drew the England flag, they would refuse and fly an Irish flag instead, but insisted it was only in jest.

In the end, her neighbour John O'Neill drew England, as well as Belgium, and said he was not worried about flying it.

"It's just a bit of crack, gets everyone together," he said.

"If I get a bit of abuse, I'm well able for it. Although I have to say, it was in the back of my head, 'what if some lunatic goes by and does something?'

"But at the end of the day, it's only football."

Families in Whiterock Gardens all set for the World Cup kick-off.

Over at Iris Drive, off the Falls Road, residents agreed not to fly the England flag for safety reasons, after stones were thrown at a house that flew it for a previous tournament.

Resident Jackie Turley said: "This is the third time we have done it, and it's so popular that we actually had to do two sweepstake draws because we have 64 teams (houses) taking part.

"The winning team will get £80, but there are also prizes for second, third and fourth too."

Mrs Turley drew Mexico this year, which she admitted was a relief after she and her husband Sandy, who organises the event, had drawn favourites on the last two sweepstakes.

"We all love football, this is a big Liverpool house, the kids are so excited for the World Cup.

"It's also a great way to bring everyone together. We have a new family in the street from Syria and they are taking part too."

The residents inspired neighbouring Gortfin Street to set up its own sweepstake for the first time.

Sonya McCann said: "Iris Drive have done it a few times, so we just decided this year we would do it too, to bring the whole street together.

"I drew Spain and was really pleased because it is Spain that I wanted.

"We are not having any cash prizes. Instead all the money for taking part will go into a big street party for the day of the final."


More from Q Radio Local Sport

Join the Thank Q Club

Sign up for the Thank Q Club and receive exclusive offers, fun competitions and amazing prizes - it's quick and easy to do!

Sign Up Log In

Listen on the go

Download the Q Radio app to keep listening, wherever you are! It's available on Apple and Android devices.

Download from the App Store Download from Google Play