A BUSLOAD of football fans who sneaked out of lockdown Leicester to watch a match in a pub gave the game away with a massive cheer when their hero Jamie Vardy scored.
Locals in Nottingham immediately ticked them off and they fled fearing a police swoop.
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While the rest of the country celebrated pubs reopening, Leicester was left looking like a ghost town by a local clampdown following a spike in Covid-19 infections.
The 35 fans, some carrying fake ID, slipped out of the fun-free zone for a 30-mile drive to watch the Foxes take on Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Fan Colin Browning tweeted a snap of a pal and wrote: “Tony is in the lockdown area so he’s borrowed his brother’s ID and is trying to disguise himself with a mask. Lol. Carnival atmosphere. The boys are back in town.”
Despite the risk of spreading the coronavirus, the group stopped for their first pint just after 11am.
They settled into a pub for the 3pm kick-off but could not contain their joy when the striker — often heralded with the terrace chant “Jamie Vardy’s having a party” — scored his 100th Premier League goal.
Colin then tweeted: “We’ve been rumbled. Had to separate and try our luck elsewhere.”
Vardy also scored another in a 3-0 win to keep Leicester’s Champions League hopes alive.
Retired shop owner Colin, 58, later posted a video of his pals singing on the coach back to Leicester at 6.30pm.
They planned to carry on drinking at a karaoke session.
Today he told The Sun: “It was great to have our freedom back.
“We were debating it all week after the news of the Leicester lockdown.
“I was lucky enough to not be from the lockdown zone but some of the guys who travelled were, unfortunately, part of that zone.
“We are big Leicester fans. We managed to keep ourselves unnoticed for most of the game but we couldn’t contain our excitement.
“We were asked to leave the pub as a couple of locals complained but we managed to get into another one very quickly.”
Another of the fans, 58-year-old Nigel Shakespeare, added: “It was a great feeling being back in the pubs.
“It was a 50/50 chance whether or not I would get in places due to ID checks but fortunately I was OK in a majority.”
Nigel Guppy, 57, said: “It’s the first time I’d left the house since the start of all this.
“It was great to be back in a pub, tasting a nice crisp Carling out of a pump.
“I was uncertain about going at first, but Colin sorted us out with sanitiser and face masks for the coach which made me feel at ease.
“We feel we are being punished unfairly in my village as we have kept to the guidelines right throughout.”
The fans were among hundreds of drinkers believed to have gone into Nottingham and nearby Market Harborough.
Locals said the sleepy market town was left like a “war zone” — with police having to clear pubs with an urgent dispersal order after booze-fuelled disorder.
We feel we are being punished unfairly in my village as we have kept to the guidelines right throughout.
One resident said: “It was pandemonium, with gangs of thugs out from Leicester.”
Another added: “Half of Leicester was in Market Harborough for a pint.”
Electricity engineer Kevin Spicknall, working from a cherry picker, said: “I would say 200 to 300 arrived from 4pm onwards.
“You could tell they were from Leicester — the accent is very different.”
Police had pledged to fine drivers trying to leave Leicester for drinking or shopping, but no roadblocks were put up.
Officers said the overwhelming majority followed rules and stayed at home.
NHS worker Julie Whittingham, 34, said: “The city centre’s dead. I’ve never seen it this empty before.
“It’s not Super Saturday here, it’s Sombre Saturday.”
Debbie Cassie, manager at Pierros Cafe in the shadow of Leicester Cathedral, added: ”It’s bitterly disappointing. We had been so looking forward to re-opening today.
“The whole country is enjoying a revival while we’re back to square one.”
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