It’s only been a few days since France triumphed in the World Cup Final, but what about England’s performance throughout the tournament? Bill Thomas looks back on a month during which a connection between the players and its supporters was finally restored.
Well what can you say? England reach World Cup semi-finals! England win penalty shoot out! England do well. Who would have thought that we would have been saying that after losing to Iceland in 2016? Gareth Southgate has done a fantastic job.
I don’t think I heard a single reference to tried and trusted excuses that we are so used to hearing. I think Southgate’s team were a breath of fresh air. Perhaps he has been watching Hereford FC on You Tube!
Back in 1990, I think the success of Bobby Robson’s England team re-invented football in this country for a lot of people. This year I believe Southgate’s team has re-invented international football for a lot of English people. It was great that so many people were getting behind them. Experiencing World Cup fever has been brilliant.
Apparently there have been reports of an increase in waistcoat sales! Back in 2007, when England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, I wonder if there was a similar increase in umbrella sales? Perhaps not.
Over the last few years I have to admit that I have been disillusioned with the men’s England team, and I have enjoyed watching the women’s England team far more. I have argued many times that the men’s team should be made to watch videos of the women’s team. I reached a point that I could name more players in the women’s team than the men’s. But in one tournament, I have fallen back in love with the men’s England team, and I know all of the players names, and think they are all heroes. I can’t understand why Lance Smith and Mike Symons weren’t included of course, but that’s me!
Even before the World Cup, I could see that the team were improving. I remember saying to my wife, and please note that this is meant as a compliment, that I thought they must have been watching the women’s team. They looked like a team.
The thing that pleased me most about England, during the World Cup was the attitude of the players. They all appeared so positive. As a young team they can also improve. The future could be rosy.
In all honesty, I didn’t really think we were actually going to win the World Cup, but I did think we reached a point where we were good enough to think that we could win it. Before the tournament my wife had England in the work sweep, so she bought another ticket! But as the tournament went on we all thought. “You never know”. And I think that’s progress.
So my message to Gareth Southgate and all of the players, is thank you very much. We have our international team back.
Perhaps football will truly come home one day!