SUPPORTERS across Ellesmere Port set their alarm clocks early to ensure they were wide awake on Saturday morning for English rugby's finest hour.
Leading the cheers for the nation's thrilling World Cup final extra-time victory over Australia were players from Ellesmere Port RUFC who were settling down to enjoy a World Cup breakfast among a 100-strong crowd in one of the town's pubs.
The nerve-jangling match ensured that some of those bangers and bacon butties almost came back up again, but the roof was almost blown off in the dying seconds as Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal sailed over the posts.
Port player Neil Percival said: 'It was a great atmosphere and people of all ages came out to support our boys. England played well throughout but there was always a nagging feeling that the Aussies were going to pull something out of the hat, and we weren't helped by the referee. He gave the opposition too many 50-50 calls and kept pulling us up for the slightest thing.
'I was so engrossed in the match I wasn't really able to appreciate the quality of the play, but I watched the game again the following day and it was a lot different when you know the result.
'There were a lot of kids watching and hopefully England's win will really benefit grassroots clubs like ourselves. Not everyone is the right size and shape to play football and it would be nice if we get more youngsters joining us.'
But the Port players' patriotism may land them in hot water with Powergen Northern Division league officials.
Despite the World Cup final being played on Saturday morning, the league still kept their full programme of fixtures in the afternoon with games kicking off just a couple of hours after Martin Johnson lifted the trophy.
Port, knowing that their players would be watching England's bid for glory, agreed with their hosts to postpone their scheduled trip to Ormskirk - only for the Lancashire side to change their minds a couple of days in advance.
Percival said: 'We feel that Ormskirk may have done the dirty on us, but if the league threatens to dock us points, we'll certainly be appealing. The rugby authorities are asking us to support our country yet they expect us to travel to a game straight after the final.
'The Oldershaw v Ashton-on-Mersey game was also postponed while Moore were obviously not at full strength at Ruskin Park as they lost 71-0.
'It's not like it's the back end of the season and there's no time for the fixture. We have blank weekends in December, January, February and April and two in March.
If it had been England playing in football's World Cup final then the whole country would have come to a standstill.' Ellesmere Port's junior section train at the Whitby Sports & Social Club, Dunkirk Lane, off Chester Road, from 10.30am-noon on Sundays. For more details, contact Dominic Murphy on 0151 339 4608.