I read a really interesting article in the German press the day after Harry Kane scored in the 94 th minute against Tunisia that basically said that following Germany’s defeat to Mexico the German national team needed someone like Harry Kane, who had that rare gift to actually score goals. It is very rare that the German media ever say anything positive about English football, ( with due cause in most cases) but this was genuine and after what seemed like a lack lustre performance against a Mexican team that seemed to want to win more, it got me thinking about my life and times with the World Cup.
My earliest vague memories go back to 1966 when I was 6 years old, my brother and me watched the match and then went straight out into the garden to recreate the moment, in our own unique way. I have always loved football, I make no apologies, I loved to play it as a kid, I played at school, my brother and I also played for our local parish team. On one occasion we played at a Doctor Barnodoes home for orphans. The place was dire, an old Victorian building we were given oranges at half time, and afterwards went in for tea and cakes. The dining room looked like it came straight out of Hogwarts, long benches and tables, it really made me appreciate how lucky we were.
I started going to football matches when I was about 13 my dad took my brother and I to see Mansfield Town (his team, or The Stags) play Northampton town ( The Cobblers) it was not the best match but I loved the whole atmosphere of the ground, the crowd, the chanting, the banter and the abuse. It got me hooked. The other big issue was being allowed to stay up late to watch Match of the Day on a Saturday night, the deal was that if I had been good for the week, it was open to negotiation. if not no chance, I recall sitting at the top of the stairs waiting for the music, and then waiting to be asked down to watch it, or indeed not
Fast forward to 1974 and I brought my second single record “Back Home”, by the England World Cup squad, with the Immortal line “Back home they will be thinking about us, when we are far away, back home they will be really behind us in every game we play,And we will give all we have got to give for the folks back home.”In fairness they did just that but sadly Peter Bonetti aka “The Cat”,had a bad day in goal, and the West Germans as they were then known made up for 1918 and 1945 and won.
So began the long and painful journey of disappoint that supporting England meant, every 2 years the cycle of expectation and hope rose across the nation as the expectation to win grew ever heavier. The same futile cocktail of thinking we had the best players went spiralling down the pan as we never quite made it to any finals. The missed penalties, the goal keeping error, the stroke of genius by the opposition, and even th Evans of God himself, or Diego, as he is known to his friends.
The one thing that over the years that I have grown older that I have not been able to get over, indeed it has got worse is my unbridled excitement when ever England score. Harry Kane’s last gasp winner saw me literally project myself from the corner of of the sofa, I literally flew swan like as they just glide across the top of the water to land arm outstretched whilst screaming something inaudible but very loud in appreciation of Mr Kane’s effort. This caused some concern with the good lady who was busy on her keyboard. Mind you this behaviour had already caused some discord as I scared the living daylights out of her and our occasional dog visitor Hugo, when I also screamed at the telly following the free kick from Ronaldo.
i think that my greatest ever achievement was when Alan Shearer scored back in which ever World Cup, againI was sat on the sofa this time in a different house. Such was the brilliance of Alan’s long range shot that on this occasion I went straight up, not unlike those planes of the RAF like the Harrier jump jet. Even more impressive was the fact that I went vertical from a seated position. I managed to elevate so high and so quickly that I punched the ceiling this resulted in damage to the paintwork.
Immediate panic then set in when I realised that the lady of the house back in the day would take grave exception to said vandalism to her immaculate abode. So at half time I popped into the garage to get some white paint and repair the damage before she returned to base camp. Sadly for me the paint I used was Matt gloss, in stark contrast to the rest of the ceiling. I may as well have hung a neon sign on the front door proclaiming football excitement damage to the ceiling. suffice to say there were repercussions, but a small price to pay for such brilliance from the three lions.
So, will Jules Remy still be gleaming when the final whistle blows? Will I go out into the garden to recreat what had been done in 1966, in truth INhave no idea. But, and this is the thing about the glory of the beautiful game, there is always that glimmer of hope, thin though it maybe. But, just maybe this could be the year for Gareth Southgate and his young lions to get the break that never seems to come, to maybe score that life changing penalty…..history will judge, as for me I will go and check the paint on the ceiling, just in case you understand.