4:56pm Thursday 10th June 2010
So, at last the World Cup is here. The first game kicks off today and we England supporters only have a few more hours to wait until our boys take to the field against the US of A on Saturday.
There are plenty of those who will stick a flag out the window, get a tattoo on their face and tell all and sundry that, “this time it will all be different” but, seeing as I’m a Brentford supporter, that kind of gung-ho belief has never sat comfortably with me.
While there is nothing wrong with a bit of face-painted patriotism, I’m pleased there is a different camp for me to reside in, filled with weary pessimists who are constantly braced for disappointment.
I’d say the split among England fans is about 60-40 in favour of the naysayers, and that probably says a lot about our national psyche.
My own downbeat attitude has been carefully nurtured over the years, fed on a steady diet of heavy defeats, relegations and play-off humiliations.
Even though the Bees are enjoying a great spell under Andy Scott, I usually can’t shake that feeling of expecting the worse whenever I’m watching the Bees and, when I’m supporting England, things are no different.
At the last World Cup, I managed to go against the grain and shake off my natural despondency, having secured a ticket to England’s first game.
I travelled to Germany as “up for the cup” as I have ever been, excited at the prospect of watching world-class players playing in the greatest sporting spectacle on earth.
Unfortunately, this optimism lasted all of 90 minutes.
Rather than having my League One-weary eyes treated to a dazzling display of football, instead England scrapped out a turgid 1-0 win and limped to an inevitable quarter-final defeat, via a penalty shootout.
I should have known it would turn out like this. It was the same kind of cruel hope that had tricked me into thinking, “We are going up!” as I made the trips to play-off finals at Wembley and the Millennium Stadium and the annoying thing is that, despite these bitter experiences, I know I’ll probably fall victim to hope again – football tends to do that to you.
It may even happen at some point in the next four weeks.
Even though my head knows England have about as much chance of winning the World Cup as that bouncy hypocrite Diane Abbot has of becoming the next Labour leader, my heart is already trying to tell me something very different.
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