London hails Ashes heroes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

London hails Ashes heroes

By Petra Cooke 14/09/2005 05:20:07 AM Comments (0)

Tens of thousands of Londoners took to the streets to hail England's Ashes triumph over Australia, as offices and shops emptied to watch the victorious team parade through the capital.

Workers who had spent much of Monday glued to television sets watching England clinch the dramatic five-Test series 2-1 with a hard-fought final draw against their traditional cricketing foes took another morning off to cheer the win.

Hundreds of fans gathered before dawn in front of the England team hotel - where some of the players were still in an upstairs bar celebrating the first England Ashes victory for 18 years.

Just after 11am the team, looking exultant if occasionally bleary-eyed, donned dark suits and joined their wives and children on a red open-top double-decker bus.

Flanked by lines of police, the bus drove slowly through central London towards a victory celebration in Trafalgar Square, where the players were introduced to the crowd to huge cheers.

Thousands lined the route of the parade while others gave their congratulations from office windows, many draped with white-and-red England flags.

Fans used mobile phones to snap pictures of the team - whose bus was followed by one carrying the England women's team, who also beat their Australian counterparts - and players raised their champagne glasses in salute.

Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff, the charismatic all-rounder named player of the series, sat beaming at the front of the bus holding his baby daughter, looking fresh despite a night of celebration involving numerous gin and tonics and a giant cigar.

As well as the thrill of the sporting triumph, Flintoff told reporters, he was being awarded the ancient honour of the freedom of Preston, his home town in northern England.

"That means I can drive a flock of sheep through the town centre, drink for free in no less than 64 pubs and get a lift home with the police when I become inebriated," he said.

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