Whether you’re a fan of football or not you couldn’t fail to notice the positivity surrounding the England campaign this year at the World Cup – even the glorious sunshine has continued for the last three weeks!
Perhaps it was a combination of the beautiful weather, seeing a well-dressed man in a waistcoat, and the balls in the back of the net that left us all giddy with anticipation and hope. Yes, hope. For the first time in my life, I believed we could go all the way.
Sadly, that dream vanished on Wednesday evening as we fell apart in the second half against the better side, Croatia. However, I’ve woken up today still feeling light and calm. We’ve got the playoffs coming up, but that’s incidental. When the young team come home, I will be cheering them as loudly as I was at every game. They’ve shown us how great football can be, they worked as a team, they had loads of fun, and they took us on the journey with them. For that, I’m incredibly grateful.
For me, this campaign has been extra special regardless of the outcome. My middle son asked if a few friends could come over to watch the first match to which I said ‘of course, sweetheart.’ Little did I know that my house was about to become World Cup Central! The atmosphere was wonderful as a hoard of seventeen-year-olds celebrated victory after victory. My daughter, who has never been interested in sport of any kind (unless you count shopping as a sport?), developed a fondness for this young team who are more relatable to her generation. She is now following the entire squad on Instagram and tells me at various times throughout the day what Jesse Lingard is doing.
My country was united, my kids were united, and my friends who had never watched a football game in their lives tuned in and got caught up in the euphoria – even my mum was addicted! That ‘togetherness’ means so much to me.
I was gutted that we didn’t make it to the final, and I’m equally gutted that football isn’t coming home, but I’ve never been more proud to be an English lass in my entire life.
Well done, England. Let’s hope this incredible tournament ends with a fabulous display of football, celebration, and smiles. Good luck to both France and Croatia for the final on Sunday. We might not be in this particular match, but I’ll still be tuning in.
Maybe next time football will come home – see you in 2022.