When the sunshine left us

Was that the best World Cup you've ever seen or what?

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 19th July 2018, 7:05 am
Updated Thursday, 19th July 2018, 8:07 am
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who's the daddy logo

It was that good even our kids watched it. Well, some of it. Daughter #1, whose three-week European tour with her friends ends today, messaged me from a fan park in Budapest after England went 1-0 up in their semi-final against Croatia to say: “It’s coming home.”

As the giddiness reached Italia 90 levels, she went on: “By the way, if England win this game, I’m getting a tattoo saying ‘Made In England’.”

Even at half-time, after a rampant performance by Gareth Southgate’s young team when they should have been at least two goals up and playing against 10 men, anyone who has ever watched England in a major tournament had a horrible feeling of déjà vu about what was coming next.

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And so it proved. A lack of a dominating presence in central midfield and a No.10 who could make the ball stick meant England conceded ground, Croatia smelt blood and that was the end of that. After the game, this terrible thought popped into my head. If England make us all wait another 28 years before reaching a World Cup semi-final, what with the life expectancy of men in our family being what it is, I’ll have been dead for 11 years. Sobering thought, eh?

Before the tournament kicked off in Russia, many thought if England reached the quarter-finals, they’d have had a good run. But with the draw being very kind (as it was for beaten finalists Germany in 2002 – Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Cameroon, Paraguay, USA and South Korea) then anything’s possible.

The day after England’s exit, life was suddenly in monochrome. The sun went in for the first time in a month, Donald Trump landed in the UK and the sunshine in a bottle we’d all been carrying around slipped out of our pockets and smashed on the floor.

Football’s coming home? Nearly, in France, to be precise, after they beat Croatia in a topsy-turvy final that was in keeping with the rollercoaster tournament that led up to it. And daughter #2 watched the final with me all the way through, while scrolling through her phone for Love Island updates. See you in Qatar in 2022.