Today’s the day. England are in a World Cup semi-final for only the third time in history. The last time we were there, almost everyone at university wasn’t born. This truly is uncharted territory for us all, territory so new and exciting that it deserves this stream of consciousness.
The beginning of every tournament has seen the same series of events for every England fan; the familiar cycle beginning with choruses of ‘ITS DEFINITELY COMING HOME’ and ending in abject disappointment at yet another dismal campaign, accompanied by feelings of apathy and even hatred, just look at that Euro 2016 loss to Iceland… This time though, the England side didn’t get the memo that they were obliged to fail.
The few people left who aren’t completely swept away by this new team revel in trying to dampen the spirits of the rest of us, telling us that there’s no point in dreaming of that fabled second star because we’ll only end up disappointed. To them I say, ‘bollocks’. How could we possibly end up disappointed after this campaign? We weren’t meant to get here, we weren’t meant to play football this way, we weren’t meant to fall in love with England again. Our expectations have already been exceeded, why shouldn’t we dare to dream?
We were supposed to go out with a whimper against Germany again, but they fell at the first hurdle. We were supposed to fall to the Argies, but they’re long since gone. We were supposed to crash and burn, but instead we are flying!
The reason people love sport is for days like today, where your team defies the odds to achieve things you thought you would never see. I never thought I would get to watch England in a World Cup semi-final, and yet here we are. I never thought I would get to see England in a World Cup final, and yet here we are, one game away from that elusive fantasy being realised. Two wins and we are the world champions. It isn’t a video game. It isn’t an elaborate con. It is real life.
How can the naysayers possibly be right about this? How can they possibly say that it isn’t worth dreaming about because it probably won’t happen? They may be right about the eventual outcome and we may not win it, but why should the possibility of failure ruin the reality of this amazing ride while we are still on it? You wouldn’t sit on a rollercoaster and sulk about the fact it will stop at some point.
To many, having the chance to celebrate with complete strangers in the streets of your village, town or city is meaningless, after all, they don’t know them from Adam… But to me, to England fans and England’s players, it means everything. This country is up a certain creek without a paddle at the moment, but this England team have given the nation hope, even if it only lasts a few more hours. All over the country people have joined together through a love of sport, watching men they will never know and will likely never even meet playing a game. This England team has united people as one through their outstanding exploits. Why would you not want to dream about the fairy-tale ending? Why would you stop yourself believing that something amazing could happen, just for fear that it also might not?
Beauty always decays, nothing physical ever lasts forever. The only things that live on forever are stories, and that is what days like today give us. They give us stories. If someone turns to you today and says, “no point thinking we might win it, its England”, turn back and simply say, “bollocks to that, we are England and we are bringing Football home!”