"Cry God! For Harry, England & St. George"
For the average England football supporter there is no greater feeling, no greater adrenaline rush and no greater pride then there is when you follow the English national soccer team at a World Cup.
Hoards of proud and patriotic Englishman board trains, planes and automobiles and will stop at nothing to be a part of history. Will it be our year? Could I live with myself if I missed my country winning the World Cup for the first time since ‘that day’ in 1966?
There is a feeling of hope, a feeling of great anticipation, and a feeling of ‘what if?’
It is well-known that the English national team have the largest following of football crazy supporters in the world. Other countries can match the passion, as high and as emotionally charged as it is, but no-one can match the numbers.
The scenes in Gelsenkirchen, Germany (2006) were incredible! 100’000 men, women and children all were scrambling around the stadium, the town, the pubs and the restaurants all waiting for that first blow of the whistle.
The National Anthem rings around a small corner of Germany and the entire land that is England. Songs such as ‘The Great Escape’, ‘The Dam busters’ and ‘German Bombers’ are belted out. All songs from the victorious days of WWII and all designed to antagonize the respectful and well-organized hosts.
The British sarcasm is frowned upon across most of the globe, but respected in Germany and not at all understood in America. It is a humour that irritates British neighbours, and infuriates most of northern Europe.
There is a sense amongst the English that they are not well-liked or well-received away from home. Does that deter them? Does it keep the noise down? On the contrary; it leads to more followers, more songs, more beer-swelling shenanigans and a sense of togetherness that is unparalleled anywhere.
‘This is our time’, ‘This is our best team since 1970’, and ‘We can do it’ are phrases that reappear every 4 years on flags, shirts, car stickers, in newspapers, magazines and on billboards at home and abroad.
There is a genuine belief that they will not lose, they cannot fail to win it ‘this time’, and then the full time whistle blows;
Whether it is the first knock-out round, the quarter-finals or the semis; penalties ‘again’! Italia ’90, Euro ’96, France ’98, Euro ’04 and Germany ’06 have all finished in penalty heartbreak.
Full grown man laden with tattoos, cigarettes and alcohol shed tears like a newborn at bath time. Children emulate their Fathers, the wives and girlfriends offer reminders such as ‘it’s only a game!' ‘Only a game?’ How dare she?
The great Bill Shankly, once of Liverpool told us all ‘that football is not a matter of life and death, but it is much more than that!’ Truer words have never been spoken.
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