THE jaunty sounds of the Cashel Ceilidh Band and Melody Jazz Band, rather predictably, failed to prise the throngs of boisterous England fans out of the pubs.

In the event, bemused shoppers formed a fleeting audience for the Sunderland street entertainment, appearing purely for the pleasure of our nation's football fans.

For in the packed interiors of Weatherspoon's pub and Yates' Wine Lodge, in Fawcett Street, the strains of Dixieland jazz was drowned out by hearty renditions of God Save The Queen and Rule Britannia.

Not even the other attractions put on by Sunderland City Council to create a carnival atmosphere - including face painting and stilted street walkers in various guises - could compete with the tribal experience of mass drinking and chanting.

If proof were needed as to how quickly the jovial mood can turn sour, it came courtesy of a group of fans with West Yorkshire accents.

With all the wit and originality they could muster, their patriotic songs descended into racist chants about the Turkish visitors.

But it was not just last night's opponents who got the treatment. When another gang overheard my friend John's Irish accent they too broke out in a mass chorus raging against the IRA.

To his credit, he stood with his head held high waiting for them to shut up. For the first time in my life I felt ashamed to be English.

Things did not improve as 5pm approached. A large group of what appeared to be trouble-makers congregated at the crossroads of John Street and Fawcett Street.

Police moved in quickly with truncheons drawn to head off any trouble, and backed up by yapping alsatians, they herded the group of 30 or so back - towards the pub they had emerged from minutes earlier.

In an instant about 30 riot police, again backed up by the dog section, appeared.

They drove them back against the Museum and Winter Gardens building and several arrests were made.

The Dixieland jazz was by this time drowned out by the chatter of the police helicopter circling overhead - keeping its eye in the sky firmly fixed on the milling massed ranks of supporters below.

Trouble escalated again shortly after 6pm at the other end of the city centre. Police arrived in a dozen vans to back up officers already on foot in the area surrounding Harley's Bar.

By now the city centre's streets were packed with a sea of white and red-shirted English fans. For the vast majority, sadly, the carnival spirit appeared to have passed them by.