Russian Ultras 'Apologise, Return Flags, And Down Shots With England Fans'
| Last updated
It seems strange now after two weeks of amazing action, but a lot of people weren't that excited or pleased about the World Cup heading to Russia in 2018.
Everyone was worried that we would see a return to some of the scenes that we saw in Marseille at the European Championships in 2016 - kitted out ultras squaring off against each other and flinging deck chairs across squares at each other.
However, in the first few weeks of the tournament this year, we've barely heard a peep about any trouble. Obviously, there have been small bits, that's normal at any event, but nothing like the apocalyptic scenes that some people were forecasting before it all started.
In fact, now some really nice stories are starting to leak out about fans getting along, and even making up for some of the trouble experiencing in previous years by returning stolen flags and buying each other drinks, reports the Daily Star.
Matt Mayberry was in Marseille two years ago and when he encountered a load of Russian fans before England's game in Volgograd the other day, he and his friends could be forgiven for fearing the worst.
Completely the opposite happened. The Russian lads shook their hands, invited them to the pub and bought them drinks.
They also asked if they could get in contact with some other England fans from Sunderland so a flag stolen in the madness of Marseille could be returned.
Matt told the Daily Star: "We met some Volgograd Ultras and they were returning flags stolen in Marseille. They wanted no trouble. They got us drinks and treated us all night. We met and drank with six of the group from Marseille.
"They were desperate to return stolen flags and shake everyone's hand to thank them for Russia. They said everyone that visits is a guest and shall be treated like one, no matter what has happened before.
"When we went to the bar they got up, shook hands with us and told us to feel at home."
He told the paper: "They asked if there are any fans of Sunderland among us.
"They were looking for them because they wanted to give them a flag taken in France with the emblem of `Sunderland'. We shared with the Russian contacts and it seems that the flag was returned.
"We drank a lot of alcohol, a few dozen shots with vodka, and the fans themselves treated us. None of us expected that they would be so hospitable and friendly.''
That's a pretty big deal, given what happened so recently between the two sets of fans. Matt admitted to being worried before heading out, but having been through five cities in two weeks, the only trouble he has seen was England fans fighting among themselves in Poland.
He added: "Everywhere I met friendly people - at the airport, and the hotel, and on the streets, I will bring friends and family to Russia.''