How England fans always have hope
Game on: My Football World Cup plan
June 2014 is upon us and so as an Englishman, it's time to become as excited as a 6-year-old on Christmas Day.
The time that comes around every four years.
The time that brings so much enjoyment. And, the time when I always, and I mean ALWAYS, end up crying into a pint of beer... the FIFA World Cup!
It's a routine, and, being English, you get used it.
It starts with purchasing your tournament wall chart. This gloriously oversized poster contains all the information you need to throw away your Microsoft Outlook calendar for a month. The fixtures, the dates, the times, the groups and the knockout stage schedule is all there, on your bedroom wall, informing you how your life will run for the next four weeks. With blank spaces next to the team names staring back at you, waiting to have a score forever etched into them.
Next comes the tournament guide book which gives you information on every team that is competing. This is normally read in one session, giving equal time to each team page because it really is important to know who the reserve goalkeeper is for Honduras (Luis Lopez if you're interested).
Now we're only a week from the tournament starting.
This is when you prepare for the game days by delving into the back of your wardrobe to pull out your Paul Gascoigne England home jersey from the 1990 World Cup and just as importantly, a red away England jersey so that you will match the colours whatever shirt the players run out in.
At this point, your preparation is done. So here comes the part that will cause so much pain by the end of the tournament... hope.
We can't help it.
As much as we say "This time it is different, there is no expectation on this team", when we get a week out from the tournament we start to believe.
We see the players in their suits boarding the plane, we think of the past glorious moments in English World Cup history - winning it in '66, Gary Linekar's hat-trick in '86, Gazza (Paul Gascoigne) bursting on to the world scene in '90, Michael Owen's goal against Argentina in '98 - and we wonder ... what if we could actually win it?
There are only 32 teams right, and we are 10th in the World and IF Rooney performs like we know he can, and IF Sturridge can score like he does for Liverpool, and IF Sterling can finally be the attacking left sided player we have missed for so long then maybe, just maybe, we could win it?
And there it is. Hope.
We cast aside realities like the skill of Brazil, the organised yet creative brilliance of Germany, the possession dominance of Spain, the passion and guile of the Argentineans. And we solely focus on our team. England.
And for just a few short weeks, we believe they are world beaters.
Of course, then the tournament will begin and football fans across the country will be tuning in from the early hours to watch as many games as possible. Enjoying the beautiful game performed by the best players on the planet.
It is an amazing time. Every time. There is no other tournament like it that brings so much joy to so many people.
As will inevitably happen, England will show flashes of brilliance, more than a dash of mediocrity and ultimately... face those knockout five kicks from 12 yards.
That is when you will see a guy in the corner of the bar, slowly lower his head as tears roll down and splash into his ale...
Or .. maybe this time?
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