Falling for it


Will England make me fall back in love with them this summer?

The World Cup has begun and although I've distanced myself from the emotional upheaval that should accompany this grand and glorious month of football, I'm beginning to think that my hardened disdain for these modern times is softening. This beautiful game has the ability to force a change of heart simply because at its very purest level all you want as a supporter is to believe in the impossible.

It's a rush of adrenaline and nerves that fuels you on, even if you know deep down how improbable and misplaced your faith is. It's what binds the experience together, believing in something, in your club or country. I've been disillusioned for years, hence the disconnect I feel for international football. Not as a spectacle but in terms of the out pouring of desire and pride I once had. It's not surprising I don't feel the same way when I look back.

My first memory of the World Cup was in 1982. I can still picture myself sitting in front of the telly watching Brazil v Italy. The year before it was Spurs v Manchester City and that Ricky Villa goal in 81. I was being positively spoilt. Football to me, at that age, was always this magical and mystical event. How wonderfully naive I was to think it would retain this sense of fantasy. I guess as a child I was not yet accustomed to heart-break and the harsh realities of broken dreams.

1984, Tony Parks and the UEFA Cup final. Then 1986 arrived. Bobby Robson. Gary Lineker. Diego Maradona and the hand of God. Almost seems surreal looking back as every memory is now iconic. I cursed when El Diego cheated then found myself looking up to the heavens and nodding my head in acceptance to the sheer and utter brilliance of his second goal.

Italia 90 was the pinnacle of it all. David Platt's last gasp winner against Belgium. The Cameroon game, so nervous I sat in the garden faced down praying when I'm not even religious. Heart pounding, the thought of defeat eating away at my conciousness. Paul Gascogine and tears. The loss against Germany, shattering.

Euro 96 was the very last time I ever felt this ilk of passion for the Three Lions. We came so close. Watching the games in packed pubs, dancing out in the streets stopping traffic when victorious. Then another dream lost. The golden generation never quite made it.

Gradually, it all began to degrade. Not surprising considering the highs from 86 to 96 will remain forever unforgettable when compared to the disappointments of the years that followed.

I'm not fair-weather. I'm not a glory hunter. I just follow my heart. Maybe my heart knows it can't have what it desires and my brain has switched off to protect it.

I'll gladly embrace the impossible if there is even a tease of the past in the coming weeks. I want to fall in love again.


Via Club Metro