Football is well and truly on its way home - and fans across Cumbria are backing Gareth Southgate's Three Lions to make it to the World Cup final.

England take on Croatia tonight in the biggest England match for decades and hope to reach their first final since winning the world's biggest tournament in 1966.

Anticipation for the big match is at fever pitch with people across the county planning to cheer on the team from their living rooms, packed pubs and outdoor events.

Choruses of Three Lions (Football's Coming Home) will be echoing around Cumbria and celebrations, should England manage to win, will likely spill into the streets.

Well wishers have been sending messages of support to Harry Kane and co. in Russia.

They include the county's only professional football club Carlisle United.

A club spokesman said: "Book Monday off … it’s coming home. Best wishes to England’s Lions from everyone at Brunton Park."

Actor Simon Greenall, the voice of Meerkat Aleksandr Orlov, has cheered England all the way.

But the Longtown lad can't see a win tonight - however, he hopes they can pull through.

He said: "I will be watching through gritted fingers. I can't not watch them, then you start to say things like you know what you are talking about, saying 'what is Sterling doing there' and 'why don't we play 4-3-4-7-1?'

"The wife is away and I'm home alone, so I will be watching it in my underpants surrounded by dirty plates. I think we will lose 2-1. But I'm an Everton fan, so that is like a victory."

The England euphoria can also be seen in schools across the city, as students and teachers alike bask in the appeal of the competition.

Monkwray Junior School in Whitehaven, produced their own music video for Three Lions (Football's Coming Home).

Graham Frost is the headteacher of Robert Ferguson School in Carlisle and he says it is coach Gareth Southgate that is the talk of the teachers.

He said: "I have been struck by how Gareth Southgate has led his players, it is not just his enthusiasm but his management style.

"In the education world people are saying this is how leadership should be done. He is a good example of what headteachers should show.

"He has been there before, he has seen the ups and downs, so he can relate to the players.

"You can see the players, the freedom there is and there is a clear tactical plan."

It is not just the manager that has been an inspiration, says Graham.

"The positivity in the way the team are performing, the way they have behaved on the pitch and the way they have conducted themselves sets a good example.

"We sometimes criticise players for setting a bad example, but the positivity is great."

The team at Carlisle-based party store Struts have also been getting in the World Cup spirit.

They've put up a massive inflatable gorilla outside the shop in Chapel Street complete with giant England flags.

Anthony Ivinson, director, said: "We saw it online and thought we would buy it because England are doing so well and to show our support."

The shop had sold out of all its stock of England flags and bunting but was due another delivery yesterday (TUE) ahead of the semi-final.

They've also got some very English costumes to hire - with people able to dress up as St George and the dragon.

"We've done quite a bit of face painting, selling wigs and flags," Mr Ivinson added.

"All I would say is keep it going lads."

In west Cumbria fans are gearing up to cheer the team on while watching the match on an outdoor big screen in Workington.

The screen, on the grass area between Allerdale House and Workington Leisure Centre, is being put in place by Allerdale Council and Workington town council and people are being encouraged to go along from 6pm to watch the game, which kicks off at 7pm.

Mark Fryer, deputy leader of Allerdale Council and a Workington town councillor, said: "Like most people, I have been gripped by this World Cup and really pleased to see England do so well.

"We also wanted to make the most of the fabulous weather we're having and give people the chance to cheer England on together with their kids, family and friends. Who knows, maybe we'll be watching football 'coming home'."

The event will be fully stewarded and no food or alcohol will be on sale. For safety reasons, glass items such as bottles will not be allowed on site.

Organisers have also warned this is a family-friendly event and anyone who is drunk or being disruptive will not be allowed to attend. Any excessive alcohol or glass bottles will be confiscated by the stewards upon entry.

The nearest parking will be at Brow Top car park in the town, as well as the car park at Allerdale House. The venue is also close to the Greenway allowing people to easily walk or cycle to the event.

Bar Thirty Two, on Wilson Street, Workington, also has a big screen in its beer garden so people can make the most of the good weather while following the World Cup.

Mike Stewardson, who runs the venue, said: "We've had quite a good turnout for the other matches, around 250 to 300 people for each of the England games.

"It's something we've done especially for the World Cup and we've put flags up and decorated the place for the occasion."

Workington Reds' club is also providing a space in its Shankly Lounge for fans to watch the World Cup's semi-final and local restaurant Caspian is providing food for free this evening.

Maryport council chairman Peter Kendall will probably watch the match sitting on his son's dining table. He is also definite that he will not be wearing an England shirt and will not have the St George's flag flying from his home.

"You have to do whatever keeps them winning," he said.

Mr Kendall said he has worn an England shirt and hung out a flag for every previous world cup without success.

"This year, for some reason, I didn't do either. England won the first game and I decided I wasn't going put a bogey on the team by putting on the shirt or hanging the flag," he added.