So the World Cup is upon us again. Another chance to get worked up into fevered excitement at the possibility of the English footballing juggernaught getting within touching distance of the famous golden trophy – before spectacularly bottling it against the first decent opposition it plays.
Another year to vaguely hope and pray that this will be the right time to emulate the greats of 1966 and lift the cup once more, thus giving new generations of fans the chance to have a sporting achievement they can remember for themselves, rather than having to rely on past glories from before they were born.
Of course, we all know that this won’t ever happen, and the majority of my proud Scottish friends and colleagues will no doubt be desperate that their southern neighbour fails for another year. Itn fact, it’s somewhat of a curse to support England during a major tournament when you live in Scotland, particularly when my adopted home’s national team hasn’t actually qualified for a World Cup or European Championship for a good decade or so.
Rather than having their own players to cheer on, the Tartan Army’s main form of enjoyment instead seems to come from supporting any nation that plays against England – so I’ve already seen a few Algeria and USA shirts out on proud display in Edinburgh this month. Due to holiday travel commitments, I was thankfully spared the embarassment of watching the 1-1 draw with the United States – but I can imagine what the torrent of mickey-taking from my Caledonian cousins would have been like when catastrophy keeper Rob Green’s fumble gave the Yanks their equalising goal.
To compound matters even more, I’ve also drawn England in the office sweepstake (alongside the mighty footballing powerhouse of Honduras), which if my previous form in workplace betting is anything to go by, means that that the team is guaranteed to fail spectacularly. I fully expect another defeat on penalties to the Germans to be on the cards, although at least things are looking slightly more rosy for my sweepstake chances than for one of my colleagues who picked the pre tournament favourites Spain – only to see them get beaten 1-0 in their opening game by Switzerland.
Off the pitch though, I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen so far at the tournament. Asisde from the drone of those infuriating plastic horns, everything has gone off without a hitch with no violence or rioting in sight. So far, it’s a great PR success and I hope that it continues right up until the final whistle of the final game, to show that a World Cup can be completed without having a dark cloud cast over it.
Until then, there are three more weeks to enjoy before the World Cup disappears once more. Three long, glorious weeks of non-stop, back-to-back sporting contests to lie back and absorb. And with another England match scheduled for Friday night, I thought it best to leave on a motivational speech from this year’s unofficial anthem – courtesy of comedic legend Rik Mayall.
Once more onto the picth dear friends…..