‘I’m England’s biggest superfan in the UK’s most patriotic estate – we’ll do anything to support our lads’

Things are kicking off in style on the Kirby Estate.
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A man has dubbed himself England’s “biggest superfan” ahead of the World Cup kick-off today (21 November) – with a video tribute for the “lads” ahead of the game at 1pm.

Chris Dowse, 44, from Bermondsey, London, lives on the UK’s “most patriotic” estate, having decked out the neighbourhood with flags as far as the eye can see.

Despite the excessive amount of decorations, he says it costs just £100 to do.

Chris Dowse holds a replica trophy at the Kirby Estate
Chris Dowse holds a replica trophy at the Kirby Estate kitted out in flags for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Jam Press.

“I think we do what we can to show our love and support for the boys, especially as I’ve become more patriotic over the years,” he told NeedToKnow.Online.

“I’ve been told I’m a superfan and I’d love to echo my title while at the games, but that’s not been possible.

“Because I’ve never seen England doing really well, I push my support more and more each time as I want to see them win once in my lifetime.

“Obviously for the men that is, as the ladies have already done it.”

A replica trophy sits on the pavement at the Estate in Kirby which is covered in England flags.
The Kirby Estate kitted out in flags for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Growing up, Chris longed to see the team “bring it home” and while they reached the semi final in 1990, this didn’t materialise into the celebration he had hoped.

As time passed, the self-proclaimed “superfan” decided to express his support for the team in more “prolific” ways, such as with memorabilia, flags and banners dotted across his home.

But in 2012 he spotted a few of his fellow neighbours putting flags on their balconies, where soon, others started to join in.

Now, the residents of Kirby have been dubbed the aforementioned “most patriotic” estate in the UK and in a bid to keep the momentum going, have plastered a range of different decorations from door-to-door, with no space left untouched.

The “flag ninjas” begin with purchasing flags and decorations from their local pound shop, as well as from other local businesses.

Chris holds up a replica signed shirt.
Chris holds a replica signed shirt at the Kirby Estate kitted out in flags for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.Jam Press.

While they understand not everyone in the estate is willing to participate, especially if they’re rooting for another country, they ensure other flags are proudly shown as well.

In the two weeks leading up to the big day, they start working on the area from sunrise to sunset – and claim the total cost is less than £100.

He said: “Luckily, one of the ninjas has a garage, so we’re able to keep all our stock in there.

“As the cost of everything is going up in the country, it’s been difficult to find flags for a reasonable price – but we’ve found some gold mines.

A lion mural looks out on the estate.
The Kirby Estate even has a lions mural. Jam Press.

“In previous years, we’ve purchased 175 flags from a local business in Sunderland for only £60 and in summer this year, we found 100 flags for only £2 a pop.

“It’s only the five of us, so we chip in all our cash, but there’s a few residents who also put some money toward it.

“If someone has passed in the estate, we also offer to fly personalised flags with their picture, name and date of passing on there – it’s nice to remember them.

“We start with trimming bushes down, so the flags won’t get caught, and start putting flag poles up, as well as bunting and banners.

“It’s taken us a bit longer than last time and we’re still waiting on a few final touches, but we’re nearly complete.”

While they aim to experience the game together, this isn’t always possible due to work and school commitments.

However, they’ve previously held outdoor viewings of games and included barbecues, music, as well inflatable bouncy castles for all ages to enjoy – but it’s for residents only.

Residents pose by a lioness mural.
Chris Dowse (C) and other residents of the Kirby Estate. Jam Press.

Chris said: “As the estate is open, we have to be careful of tourists showing up who try to get involved.

“We’ve had this a few times before, where loads of people were waiting to watch the game, but we didn’t recognise half of them.

“It’s only for us and it’s a community event.

“Usually, we make a day of it and no one moans or complains, as it’s something we have to do.

“In Qatar, this is going to be slightly more difficult due to the unpredictable weather, but we’ll make it work.”

Flags line the flat block in Kirby
Flags hoisted on the estate. Jam Press.

Now, the residents of Kirby are gearing themselves up for the first England game of the tournament and while they have high hopes, Chris believes it’s going to be a “slow burner.”

He added: “We’re still getting over the high of the ladies winning and we’re now faced with a game in November.

“I think the more it goes on, the more excitement will be generated.

“Luckily, I’m not working for the first game, but a lot of others are, so we can’t physically get together for this.

“But, further down the line, we will hopefully be able to do something differently – it’s England after all, so who knows with the weather.

“It’s plain and simple, though – it’s coming home.”