I’m writing this at 5pm on Sunday July 11th 2021 – 3 whole hours before England face Italy in the final of the Euro 2020 championships (if you’re reading this in the future, the world went to shit at the end of 2019 and everything ran out of kilter for a while.)
Before the kick off I just want to say I hope England win for each and every fan that still believes. Unfortunately about six or seven years ago I stopped believing. It wasn’t instantaneous but a slow build up over several years.
Why? I’d probably say the rot set in by around the 4th SKY TV/FA contract renewal. That was when the money got ridiculous. When Nigel Reo-Coker is fetching £8.5m in a single transfer then you know the game has gone.
The billions fed into Chelsea and Man City (other rich clubs are available) made me feel quite repulsed by the modern game. Real life fantasy football played by billionaires who have no real feelings to the game is quite sickening. I even gave up on my team, Ipswich Town
I went to my first game at Portman Road when I was four. A draw with Wolves. Sporadic games followed over the years until I was old enough to pay my own way when I became a lot more regular. My first full season was 1986 when we got relegated. I’m a bloody jinx!
Lot’s of second division football followed and I became what’s probably called a semi-regular. ITFC finally got back into the top flight just as the premier league launched. It coincided with a somewhat bleak time in my life and I didn’t get to many games but there was some corkers (Oxford away when we clinched promotion was a highlight).
Another highlight was Spurs at home in the debut Premiership season. I was in a pub in one of the roughest estates in Edinburgh and got them to switch it on. I’d describe the atmosphere as fraught!
We jump on a few years and my time working at Cinram. A fair few of us would go (better do a roll call):- Dave, Scott, Alan, Gill and Sue were the mainstays with a few others adhocly attending.
This culminated in promotion once again and three years as a season ticket holder. It seems hard to believe that was 20 years ago. Time flies when your football team isn’t that good!
As for the national team, I was involved in all the failures over the years. Going out of the 82 world cup when we were unbeaten, The high of Lineker’s hat-trick against Poland followed by the low’s of Maradona’s handball and wonder goal. Then onto Italia 90 and the heartbreak of penalties.
I could name every tournament and it would end the same albeit at different rounds/stages. The face would be painted and long before Phil Foden had been born the hair was dyed blonde.
I lived and breathed every single minute.
And then just like that it was over. The love had gone.
During lockdown I have tried to rehabilitate myself but that’s very hard when your two teams are Ipswich and Hearts and they’re playing at low levels. The quality factor was running very close to zero. But I persevered with the help of Adz and Giggsy and I’ll be giving it another go this season. You never know I may even return to Portman Road.
Lastly back to England. I have watched all their games in this tournament (except for the Germany game as we were on holiday and went out for some tea). This squad has serious talent and they seem to be very decent fellas off the pitch too. Yes they’ve been lucky at times but isn’t football all about swings and roundabouts? And VAR
So I’ll be watching the final at home. Cheering the team on.
If you’re watching the game then remember to soak it all in and enjoy it.