England fans arriving in Volgograd for their World Cup game versus Tunisia on Monday were met by swarms of tiny flying midges, in the absence of the dreaded gangs of bloodthirsty Russian hooligans promised by the UK press.
Three Lions fans were in the city by the banks of the River Volga to watch Harry Kane and co. open their Group G account, but were taken aback by two things: the lack of Russian hooligans, and the sheer volume of midges.
The little flying bugs are extremely common in provincial riverside towns in the height of summer, and England fans were left clamoring to find the nearest shops selling bug-repellant spray.
Much to their chagrin, many shops had sold out, such was the prevalence of the midges - singularly known as a "moshkara" or "moshka" in Russian.
England players were even doused with anti-bug spray on the pitch before they kicked off against the Maghreb nation at Volgograd Arena.
One local fan was also snapped wearing a beekeeping mask to fend off the flying creatures while on his way to the ground.
But not to let that dampen their spirits, the traveling fans seemed upbeat. One fan, named Les, was spotted in a local Volgograd pub giving out T-shirts "With Russia From Love" embroidered on the chest, a reference to the famous James Bond film.
Speaking to RT Sport, Les sarcastically said: "Look at all these hooligans here beating us up and attacking us, it's just terrible isn't it."
Les, England fan giving out 'From Russia With Love' t-shirts - a pop at the negative headlines in UK press re Russia 2018.— Danny Armstrong (@DannyWArmstrong) June 18, 2018
'Dunnit piss you off!' he says.
It does Les, it does.
#Eng #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/nLa0sHO1n8
Les, sipping on his beer in the sunshine outside the pub, then added: "Doesn't it p*** you off some of the rubbish the UK press write!"
Les was joined by England fans Jamie Marriott and Mitchell Jones, who cycled 2,400 miles to Volgograd from the UK to make the match.
The lads were quick to praise their Russian host, Vitaly, who had bought them beers throughout their stay in Volgograd, to where they arrived the day before the England game.
The lads even enjoyed celebrity status in the city, being treated to more free beer by the establishment's beer master, and taken on an underground tour of how the local ales are brewed.