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Dare to dream

July 11, 2018

I’m old. Well, old enough to remember the last time England won the World Cup. At least two generations have been born since.

For decades I’ve despaired of it ever happening again. I couldn’t even watch England matches, because it was too painful to see pampered, primping prats play like brats who wanted to score all the goals. (Yes, David Beckham, I am looking at you.)

Not living in London at the moment, I knew nothing about Gareth Southgate and the team of young, eager players he’d picked to represent England at the World Cup. All I thought when it started was “Here we go again.”

Well, I was wrong, as I discovered last Tuesday when I went to the Roxy to watch England versus Columbia, and again on Saturday to watch England versus Sweden. There was a reason English football fans were so excited. These lads might really bring the cup back.

So, in a leap of faith, the first thing I did when I got to the Roxy this morning was buy a ticket for the final on the weekend.  If England was going to be in the final (which I was actually daring to believe) then I was going to be watching them on a big screen with a room full of fans. Granted, the possibility of losing the final to France was rather gaulling (misspelling intentional), but, after more than half a century, it really was time. Surely the gods of football understood this?

Of course, that meant getting past Croatia today. For 45 minutes I thought we could, but – fair play to them – Croatia absolutely dominated the game after that. They beat us fair and square.

But, my goodness, what a delightful ride Southgate and the lads took England (and its fans around the world) on. A team to be proud of in every possible way.

After decades of embarrassment, England has new heroes.

Gareth and Harry

Theirs really has been the beautiful game. If they keep playing it that way, why shouldn’t the cup be theirs in 2022?

Short break while I go to the pub to play my weekly pool game with my 95-year-old neighbour. There I am reminded that there is one more chance to see England play. If I am willing to get up at 6:30am (which, astonishingly, I am), there is a match against Belgium to determine third place. I know this isn’t the Olympics, but I (and all other England fans) could and would wear bronze proudly.

Turns out there is no refund for the ticket I bought for the final. I could offer my place, but I won’t. I shall also get up early on Sunday to watch the final. I know there might be some English fans who may root for Croatia in the sporting spirit of proving England was knocked out by the very best team. I will not be one of those fans. I want France to kill Croatia.

 

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