Get behind our Three Lions

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It is fair to say that we are living in a country that feels far from united right now.

It is two years since 17.4m people backed Brexit and voted to leave the EU and in those subsequent 24 months, we have gone from being the continent’s grumpy old man to the belligerent drunk sat at the end of the bar, endlessly picking fights with himself.

But, don’t despair, there is a good chance that, in England at least, this prolonged period of niggle and nark is soon going to change as we welcome another World Cup. Before you snort your mixed blend out of your nostrils and move onto the crossword, there is a logic to this particular argument because football remains the greatest uniting force of them all.

Granted, this current crop of Three Lions stars are far from favourites to claim the famous old trophy in Russia but I have a feeling that even a good run in the knockout stages will put a smile back on to the nation’s face.

And boy, do we need it. Last week, a YouGov poll of some 20,000 people showed the Love Island generation have far less of a feeling of national pride than their elders. Just 45 per cent of those 18 to 24 year olds questioned said they were proud to be English, compared to a resounding three quarters of those aged 65 and above. Then there is the St George’s flag, which, as it stands, will only be flown or displayed by one fifth of us during the World Cup, if another survey is to be believed.

Draping your nation’s flag out of the bedroom window is a common sight across the globe, especially during a major sporting event. But in recent decades, there has been a reluctance by many of us to associate with the English flag. Part of it is snobbery – there is a view among some that displaying a St George’s flag is for White Van Man... Then you have the flag’s links to the knuckle draggers on the far right and nobody with more than an O-level in woodwork wants to be associated with that lot.

But my view is the reason for apathy surrounding the flag is that the English have had very little to shout about in recent years and a run to at least the quarter finals, which this ever hopeful fan thinks they are capable of, will change everything.