MITCH BENN offers four good reasons to feel proud of England’s footballers and to look forward to the World Cup despite their Euro final defeat to Italy
By the time you read this, several days will have passed since England’s defeat (on penalties, inevitably) at the Euros final on Sunday. How are things going, up there in the future? Has the anguish and despair begun to abate? Or is it all still unbearably raw?
If it’s the latter, perhaps I can be of some assistance. Let’s look at all the positives to be gleaned from this gruelling experience…
With this in mind may I present these Reasons Not To Be Too Miserable About England Losing The Final:
WE PRESENTED THE WORLD WITH A POSITIVE VISION OF ENGLISHNESS FOR MAYBE THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE BEATLES WERE A THING
While a fair-sized contingent of England’s supporters put on the inevitable and expected display of awfulness during the tournament, whether this took the form of booing the national anthems of England’s opponents, or trashing Leicester Square on the morning of the final (although at least the firework-up-the-bum guy showed a bit of ingenuity and bravery), the players themselves were models of humility and cooperation and the team served as a perfect illustration of English multiculturalism in action.
So, you know, there’s that.
ALL THE TRULY DREADFUL PEOPLE WHO WERE PLANNING ON CASHING IN ON AN ENGLAND VICTORY NOW CAN’T
I’ve been saying, not entirely in jest, for the last two weeks or so, that if England had won on Sunday, Boris Johnson would’ve called a snap election by Tuesday. I guess we’ll never know now, but I’m still relatively convinced that this would have been the case, such was the PM‘s desperation to associate himself with the team’s glorious progress through the tournament. Apart from that bit at the beginning, when he said it was a good idea to boo them, of course.
As indeed did Priti Patel, although she changed her tune pretty sharpish when England actually started winning things, despite the fact that had her own immigration policies been in force 30 years ago, they would not only have prevented most of this current England squad from entering the country, quite a few of them would never have been born.
It is bitter consolation, but consolation nonetheless, to contemplate all the lush political capital that these people and others will now *not* be able to extract from the tournament. Indeed, one side benefit of the Euros has been the eagerness with which many conservative (both big and small C) commentators availed themselves of the opportunity to expose their rank hypocrisy.
An honourable exception must, of course, be made in the case of Lee Anderson MP, who, as far as we know, stood by the pledge he made after England’s first match to boycott the whole tournament in protest at our boys having taken a Black Lives Matter-inspired knee during the national anthem. He’s not a hypocrite. He’s just an idiot.
Well, obviously this doesn’t apply to all of you, but it applies to some of you, in which case it’s entirely possible you’re laughing your ass off at the moment, in which case, sure, go ahead, knock yourselves out.
However, most of the Scottish people *I* know, once they were over the disappointment of their own team’s failure to struggle out of the group stage, were sufficiently impressed by the diligence and all-round decency of this particular England team to put their cross-border grudges aside for a while and throw their support wholeheartedly behind the Sassenachs for once. If this is you, take heart from the fact that Scotland were the only OTHER team England didn’t beat.
IT PROVES FREE WILL EXISTS
There were times, during the tournament, when it became impossible to escape the impression that one was not watching real life, but rather a movie about the life of Gareth Southgate.
The plot arc was just too perfect, wasn’t it? The hero, humiliated on an international stage in his youth, retains his dignity and recovers his strength, works his way up to national manager and then leads his country to redemption in exactly the same sort of penalty shootout in which he himself was made to suffer so badly all those years previously…?
Let’s face it, if England had won on penalties on Sunday, it would’ve given rise to genuinely troubling questions about the nature of reality. But it didn’t happen. So this really is the real world, and the universe is random and unscripted. So that’s a relief.
On the other hand:
POEM OF THE WEEK
Don’t shuffle round with your eyes to the ground
Lift your chin, look up
The boys did great, and if you can wait,
It’s just 18 months ’til the World Cup.
It’s in Qatar, in winter
The season it will disrupt
But this is a side no-one can deride
And it’s eighteen months ’til the World Cup.
Our country is a laughing stock
Chaotic and corrupt
But it has a young team, who can play like a dream
And it’s 18 months ’til the World Cup.