So here we are only a few short hours away from the big game England versus Columbia, the quality of matches at this World Cup has been outstanding. The last gasp heroics of my player of the season in the Premier league, Kevin DeBreuner has been superb, breaking the hearts of the Blue Samurai with a dream pass to set up the killer third goal in minute 94. This has so far been an excellent tournament played with spirit and with no reported crowd trouble a real success for Mr Putin and his grand plan. Which according to the latest fake news also has a little bit of help from his friends ( to quote the Beatles) apparently Donald Where’s me trousers Trump.
So how do I feel about all this expectation that sits on the shoulders of these Young Lions, as people like me who is old enough to remember actually winning the World Cup back in 1966, when I was just a young lad of 6 who immediately after the match finished went into the back garden to recreate the forth and final goal. To quote the immortal commentary from the day itself “Some of the crowd are on the pitch, they think it’s all over….It is now”,as Sir Geoff Hurst smashed it into the back of the West German net. Happy days indeed. So what makes it different this time around from all the previous years of national build up and expectation, which invariably creates a spiral of expectation that is too much and creates a subconscious desire to win, that is doomed to failure. And surprise, surprise England always end up failing.
So I make no apologies at all for what can only be described as zealous celebrations when finally England last night won a penalty shoot out. And what was the difference this time. The answer is I believe Gareth Southgate, the England Manager, at every press interview this man has impressed me more and more. To be honest when he took over I was not optimistic, but that view has changed completely, he shares the same passion and reaction when England score as I do. In addition he has also had to face the backlash of having his penalty saved so crashing England out of the cup. Hard to even understand what it must feel like to experience just what he had to go through. He carries an aura of calm and quite confidence amongst a team that has become a family.
To be honest I hope that I am wrong, but this team is probably too young to win this tournament, the Gods have been fortunate in that they avoided the group of death. Brilliant teams like France, Belgium, and finally Brazil, will battle amongst themselves. England will play Sweden who interestingly Sven Joran Erickson the former Swedish Manager of England believes England will get beaten by when they meet on Saturday (small aside, Sven also achieved national fame and respect when he was exposed as having Ugandan relations with stunning TV presenter ,weather girl, and stunning beauty Ulrika Johnson!) But anyway back to the football, history will no doubt decree who will win but either way the genie of unreasonable expectation is out of the bottle, the nation can let the team play and grow.
Talking of Ugandan relations that reminds me of one of my finest ever moments, when after a fine evening spent in the Lighthouse pub in Halesowen with a superb evening spent in the Company of my lovely girlfriend, her sister and another very attractive lady, where liberal quantities of Stella and vino had been pleasantly imbibed. When the witching hour arrived and it was time to leave, we stood up and prepared to depart when without warning, Barry the amiable landlord called for everyones attention and announced very loudly ” Ladies and Gentlemen, attention please the luckiest man in the pub is leaving with not one, not two, but three lovely ladies”. This inspired applause and cheering from the locals, at which point I felt duty bound to quote the immortal words of one of the finest English heroes we ever had, none other than the admiral of the fleet himself Lord Horatio Nelson when he uttered those stirring pre match words at the battle of Trafalgar which I happily stole, when I stood up, cleared my throat and declared ” England expects every man to do his duty”. Queue loud applause and lively cheering from inspired and enthused locals. Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves…..
Come on England…..