Sunday 13 June 2010

White and Red; Hope and Expectation

Earlier: the town is a scattergun landscape of red and white, flags and shirts; busy supermarket, trolleys loaded with snacks and boxes of beer; on TV some woman – fake tanned, peroxide princess – says it'll be a draw, everyone else says England win, the ex-players, the presenters, the guys outside the ground with a beer in one hand and a vuvuzela in the other, they all say England win because they know you never say it’ll be anything else. Later, to the pub: the town is alive like never before; red and white in all forms; crowns, capes, shirts, flags, horns blaring, faces painted, the singing has started, come on England; an 18-stone lad wrapped in a flag, a dressed-up Saint George with air horn and moped instead of lance and white horse, girls tarted up to still appeal at two, startling white flags on their over-bronzed cheeks; everyone leaves together heading in the same direction, tribal, uniformed, a team going to battle. In the pub: everything the extra cold kind except one unannounced hand pump of Harvey's Best; a nervy undertone to the excited chatter; the lads together in the corner, an order for six pints of Carling, three of Carlsberg, two of Magners, the teams are coming out. The game: emotive anthems followed by a cheer from within come on England; the tension is immediately calmed by Gerrard – the pub collectively jump, cheer and then fall back and relax, the chatter increases, there’s laughter, no worries now; a guy - the only one in the pub eating - his chair breaks, the crowd’s wheeey is almost as loud as the one for the goal, you've had enough chips, mate, they laugh; the laughter rolls around until the mistake brings silence. Change of pub for the second half: bigger, more people, all the ale is football themed (Fever Pitch, Back of the Net, Golden Balls), in here there’s singing to put on a brave front, to cover the increased tension, to feel a part of it, to make a difference; the air horns bring repeated cheers of En-gland, Three Lions is sung every 10 minutes; pints are swallowed between the action, never during; we rise and fall together, cheer or half-look away; we claw desperately to hope, 10 minutes is enough, we can do it in five, four minutes extra fine and we can still do it; it ends. A collective, heavy sigh; a group oh well, we’ll win the next two, (we have to), but it doesn’t hide the disappointment, the broken expectation; we did all we can from our little pub, in this little town, in our patch of England’s pitch, thousands of miles from the team; we came together in force, hope, pride and we found community, shared spirit. We do it all again on Friday.


  1. Glad you enjoyed it, even though we were crap. Never let our crapness spoil the fun!

  2. Being from the US and watching the media and the sports networks continue to try and get American's into the sport of soccer, can't say football because some pretentious bastard wasted that on a game that should be called "throwball". Anyway...what was I saying?

    Yea, in a place where soccer isn't as big as most of our other sports it is refreshing to slowly see it catching on. This is only the 3rd World Cup I've watched and each time I go, each year I watch, I see more people interested in it. It is a nice site.

    I know England is probably pretty disappointed. I was watching the game with a native Austrian who was cheering for England. After Green's mishap, he kept saying, "I'd hate to see the headlines tomorrow in England..."

    I thought for the most part it was a fun game to watch. There will always be some kind of weird play that can ultimately change the fate of any team. For me though, I'm glad we got the draw, that's a win in my book for the US. If the US can make it out of group play and actually do something, it will only be good for a sport that continues to struggle to become a household thing here in the States.

    I wish your team luck, as I hope US and England move on. I've always liked Rooney!


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  3. Im putting the the US as my number 2 team to support after England. It would be nice to see Holland do well also.