Trailer making came to a halt for the big Euro 2016 match between England and Wales.
Workers at Ifor Williams Trailers watched the historic Group B game in Lens in the canteens at their Corwen and Deeside sites.
After consulting with staff, the firm’s managers decided to suspend work on production lines at both factories so shift workers didn’t miss out on the clash which ended in heartbreak for Wales supporters and joy for England fans with a late, late goal from Daniel Sturridge giving the Three Lions a 2-1 victory.
Dispatch worker Shaun Williams, of Wrexham, was desperately hoping for a Wales win on what was his 32nd birthday.
He said: “It’s been fantastic that the firm has allowed us to watch the game together, it’s made for a great atmosphere.
“Winning at half-time was fantastic and I was hoping Wales might score a second – that would have been a perfect birthday present. However, it wasn’t to be and England, in fairness, played very well.”
Cleaning supervisor Lisa Bodden. 33, of Cynwyd, proudly wore her Wales shirt and had the flag of Wales painted on her face.
She said: “It’s been great watching the game together. I couldn’t believe the atmosphere when Gareth Bale scored and I was hoping we might add a second.
“Before the game I predicted it would be 2-1 – but for Wales.”
England supporter Kenneth Wall, 53, of Llanarmon DC, who works as a forklift driver, said: “I’m originally from Bradford and I’m a proud Englishman.
“From my point of view it was a brilliant game and the right result. There has been lots of friendly banter and we had a cracking atmosphere.
“I’m just grateful the managers agreed to allow us to watch the match together, it made it a bit special.“
Fellow forklift driver, David Jones, 51, of Corwen, said: “I’m not very happy with the result but it was nice to give England a real fright.
“There was a great atmosphere and it’s been great that we were allowed to watch the game together on big screens in the canteen.”
Production workers and brothers Sean and Daniel Jones, of Coedpoeth, watched the game together and were disappointed Wales couldn’t hold on for a point.
Sean, 29, said: “The atmosphere has been amazing and we all enjoyed the banter and watching the game together.
“It’s just a shame we couldn’t hang on and at least get a point from a 1-1 draw. Wales are still in the competition though and I think we can beat Russia.”
Forklift driver Charlie Ward, 21, of Weston Rhyn, was delighted with the win for England.
He said: “I’m English and an England fan. I thought we did really well and deserved the win to be fair.
“It’s been a fantastic day and letting us off shift so we could watch the game was brilliant and we are all really grateful.”
National loyalties at the Deeside factory were more evenly split with around half supporting Wales and the other half England.
Gareth Jones, 52, a production worker, is a massive Wales supporter and before the game was predicting a Wales victory.
He said: “It’s brilliant the company allowed us to watch the game, we really appreciate it.”
Fellow production worker Simon Mahkenholz-Fox, 35, of Wrexham, said: “We have had plenty of friendly banter with the England supporters.
Mark Henderson, 53, of West Kirby, predicted a 2-1 victory for England before the game and says the company was very fair allowing workers to come off shift to enjoy the game.
He said: “We didn’t expect it so when it was announced that we could all watch the game it was a big surprise.”
Fellow England fans, Mike Crompton, 24, of Chester, who is a mat fitter, and Neil Aldous, 52, a forklift driver of Flint who was born and bred in Darlington, were both hoping for a Three Lions victory.
Mike said: “The banter, which has been very friendly, has been building on the shop floor for weeks. It’s been fantastic that the firm has allowed us allowed us time off shift to watch the game.
Neil added: “It has been good and not many firms would be so fair to be honest. I don’t care what the result is so long as it’s a win for England.”
According to Operations Manager Richard Bull, it was a company decision to allow shift workers to come off the production line so they could watch the game together.
He said: “Those who were due to finish at 2pm were allowed to leave work early so they could get home in time for kick-off.
“In fairness some came in early anyway and those on afternoons are working a little later than their due 10pm end-of-shift to make the time up.
“There were very few England fans watching the game in our Corwen factory and those that were, were massively outnumbered by Welsh fans. There was a lot of very friendly banter and it made for a cracking atmosphere.
“The canteen was decorated in Welsh flags and we provided nibbles and soft drinks – no alcohol obviously!”
He added: “It was a heartbreaking result for Wales in the end. At half-time, when Wales were winning 1-0 I thought they might do it. I think you would have heard the roar 10 miles away when Gareth Bale scored from that free-kick!”
One England supporter, who tried to remain neutral throughout the match, was HR Manager Gordon Burns.
Gordon said: “I watched the game with the afternoon shift in the canteen at Corwen.
“I’m responsible for HR and met with the workforce to discuss the best arrangements so everyone who wanted to watch the match could.
“Although it was a company decision, the workforce has shown real commitment and is making the lost time up. As long as England and Wales remain in the Euros we will be working flexibly so everyone who wants to watch their games can.”
News » Friendly banter as trailer team watch big match