Belfast Telegraph

Green and White Army waving the flag and singing the song everywhere they go for Northern Ireland France Euro 2016 adventure

By Jonny Bell

The Green and White Army have begun their invasion of France ahead of the European Championships.

Northern Ireland play Poland, Ukraine and Germany in France over the next 10 days - and everywhere they go the Green and White Army will be with them.

And waving their flags.

Nigel Haslett has set up the Northern Ireland Flags and Banners for Euro 2016 Facebook page to display the fans' best offerings for their French adventure.

From the humorous to the creative, supporters' clubs from all around the world - from as far afield as the Far East to America - have displayed their banners on the page.

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Northern Ireland heroes Pat Jennings, George Best, Alan McDonald and David Healy all feature among many of the current squad while local legends - such as Jackie Fullerton, Jimmy Nesbitt, Pamela Ballantine - with her 'Gin and White Army' - and Big Jim McDonald all feature. Mr Tayto also gets a run out.

Others offer a small insight into how they have come to be in France.

"No cameras please, the boss thinks I'm working from home," jokes one.

"I should be with my new born baby," says another.

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Twenty-five-year-old tree surgeon Nigel set up the page around six months ago.

He said: "It's been amazing to see the flags coming in over the last six months or so since the page was set up.

"Momentum has built towards what is for so many of us the first major tournament in our generation.

"While for others it's been a long hard 30 years that many never imagined coming around again in their lifetime since our last major tournament.

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"We've had flags sent in honouring our past footballing heroes to our current group. There has also been flags honouring local celebrities such as Jimmy Nesbitt, Jim Mcdonald and even Mr Tayto."

Many of the banners mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Nigel is heading to France for all three of Northern Ireland's group games and has arrangements in place for their road to the final, if they progress out of the group.

He added: "For many there is a huge significance in the fact that it is is exactly 100 years since our forefathers fought in World War One and the centenary of the battle.

"It makes the tournament that bit more special to us as many of us will be visiting the war graves and battle sites to remember all who give their today for our tomorrow.

"The range and variety in flags has been amazing to see as so many in our wee country getting behind a team that is representative of Northern Ireland as a whole. It is also very welcoming to see local businesses across the country flying the colour of Our Wee Country."

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