FOOTBALL fans across East Lancashire are today gearing up for England’s biggest match for 28 years.

Roads will be deserted and pubs and bars packed across the area as Gareth Southgate’s England take on Croatia tonight in their first World Cup semi-final since they lost to West Germany on penalties in 1990.

Thousands of people will take in the highly anticipated match in different ways. Some will be watching the game on a giant screen while others will be watching the match with their families and friends at home.

Fans are set to turn out in force in Blackburn to watch the games outside the Havelock Inn’s car park and outside Blackburn Town Hall on large LED screens.

Colne Cricket Club is playing host to a huge fan park for tonight’s game.

The fan park will have a 2,500 capacity, and will screen the event on a huge 21m sq screen on the cricket pitch with food and drink on sale from 5pm.

Gary Hunt, chairman of Colne Cricket Club, said: “This will be a huge event for our local area and we’re glad to be able to provide a huge venue for people to really soak up the atmosphere.”

People in Burnley will be able to watch England World Cup games on a large screen at Prairie Sports Village, in Windermere Avenue, while the big game will be screened across dozens of bars in Accrington, Clitheroe and Darwen.

Pupils at Longshaw Junior School, on Park Lee Road, Blackburn, are celebrating today’s special occasion by holding a Gareth Southgate waistcoat day, where children can dress up as the England boss for the day.

Despite the fact thousands of supporters will be gathering to watch the crunch game, police said there will be no extra patrols out on the streets of East Lancashire for the football.

The ambulance service also urged people to make sure they only dial 999 in serious or life-threatening emergencies following a surge in 999 calls after England’s victory against Sweden on Saturday.