AFTER finding most pubs completely booked, I was starting to believe my best chance of watching England's final group stage would be through a pub window.

Walking along Boyce's Street, Brighton, I heard the cheers of fans after Raheem Sterling headed England into the lead. I rushed to the closest pub, the Fiddler's Elbow, and tried to catch a glimpse of the replay.

The bouncer seemed to take pity on me and went and had a chat with the management.

After a couple of minutes, I was invited inside after they had made some space for me.

The seat I was given was in a cosy but empty booth with no direct view of the televised match. This was until I smartly positioned a stall, and with a little lean forward, I had a prime view of one of the Three Lions.

I must have still looked a bit confused after being shown such kindness because the barmen then gave me a pint of Pepsi for free and just said: "just chill out and enjoy the game."

The Argus: Fans in the Fiddler's Elbow in Boyce's Street, BrightonFans in the Fiddler's Elbow in Boyce's Street, Brighton

I could see a few other tables filled with six fans each as posters throughout the pub served as a reminder of the current restrictions.

Even though the pub was operating at partial capacity due to Covid-19, you could still feel the buzz in the air.

Whether it was the occasional chants of "it's coming home" or just the sheer amount of people wearing their England shirts as a way of marking their support for the international team.

Due to the pandemic, I hadn't been inside a pub to watch a football match in quite a few months, but I found myself looking at the people more than the screen.

Maybe it was a sense of all the televised football over the last year taking a bit of shine away from the Euros.

But seeing the fans chatting and drinking together was reminiscent of a time before Covid-19.

After the Sterling goal, the England game was a bit of a dull affair, but updates from the Scotland match managed to pump fresh energy back into the pub.

Whenever Croatia scored, the cheers and laughter showed that there was no love lost between England and their neighbours to the north.

The most exciting moment for me was seeing Jordan Henderson double the lead for the Three Lions.

The exhilaration of cheering a single moment along with strangers as if you were long-term friends is a feeling I have missed for so long.

Even after seeing the goal ruled out for offside, there was still that feeling of togetherness as groans filled the pub.

It may have been the happiest I have ever been at seeing a goal get chalked off for my team.

Celebrations met the full-time whistle as fans were in jubilation after watching England top their group, although there was a constant murmur from fans worried about who we will have to face in the round of 16.

England will have to face one of France, Germany, Portugal or Hungary from Group F, so it could be a tough match for Gareth Southgate's side.

Leaving the Fiddler's Elbow was a familiar feeling, similar to that of walking out of a football stadium and hearing everyone's conversation about the match.

READ MORE: Inside the cancelled Brighton Marina Euro 2020 Big Screen

Walking back home, it was surprisingly quiet on the streets of Brighton and Hove, probably the consequence of the match being on a Tuesday evening and the current restrictions.

However, the occasional group of merry lads singing "Southgate you're the one" was enough to make you believe that maybe, just maybe, football is coming home.