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  • Writer's pictureEric Rushton

Football Didn’t Come Home

Gutted. Bereft. Hungover. Smelling like BO. That’s all that remains of my dream of England winning the Euros.

It’s been three days since the events of Sunday 11th July 2021, and I think I am ready to offer my much-needed input. Southgate, if you’re reading, make sure you have a pen and some paper ready, and I’ll tell you how we could’ve won this thing.

Just kidding. I’m not gonna offer my tactical analysis, on account of me not being a professional footballer or manager. My last time in football management involved me getting sacked by Salford City on FIFA 20 after just 12 miserable games in charge. I couldn’t even get even get a squad of AI to buy into my tactics, so the fact that Southgate got a squad of 26 men with different emotional temperaments to be so united and get to a final is very impressive to me.

As for playing, the highest level I’ve played at is probably student union foosball – so I don’t want to be one of these fat beer-bellied blokes screaming about how “even I could’ve scored that chance.” I will say this though: could the players have incorporated more 360-degree spins into their penalties?

I dunno why everyone becomes a football manager when England lose. People don’t do that in other walks of life. If Deliveroo bring your order late, you don’t want to take over the company. People don’t call up talk radio to moan about the fact we’ve not got enough people delivering fried chicken at the grassroots level. It all starts with the paperboys – the demise of local news is killing our game.

As well as being gutted, I do feel really lucky. I got to see England in a final. I woke up on Sunday and had a final to look forward to. How mad is that? It might never happen again.

I watched the game at this big social club in Birmingham. It was one of the only places that you didn’t have to pre-book for, but my friend Lauren had to queue up from 9:30am to make sure we got a seat. The rule was you had to have at least one member of your party there at all times, so I arrived at 1pm to look after the table while my friend went for lunch.

It was such a long day. When I arrived, it was already packed. People were already drinking, while I was sipping a latte and reading my kindle. I felt like people had started far too early. Loud chants rang out as I tried to concentrate on The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael Sandel. I wanted to stand up and shout, “I’m all for a sing-song lads, but it’s 7 hours ‘til kick off and I’m tryna understand how untethered capitalism corrupts social norms here.”

I was well into the atmosphere when we got closer to kick off, though. The rest of my friends arrived, and we were all singing about football coming home and Southgate being the one and it was magical.

That was a tough call, actually – which friends to watch it with. Everyone is having a go at the 5 players Southgate picked to take the penalties. I struggled to pick 5 friends to watch it with. Mark had been in great singing form in the last few matches, but he didn’t know the verses to Three Lions ’98 and he just didn’t have that big game experience. Sadly, he had to miss out -- credit to him for helping us get this far though.

We all know what happened in the game. Even though we didn’t win, we’ll still always have that Luke Shaw goal and Pickford’s saves and all the amazing moments in the run up to the final. The 2018 World Cup and this Euros have been by far my favourite tournaments supporting England and I’m buzzing for the next World Cup. Even if we don’t win it, I’m sure there’ll be even more great memories made.

Right, this is the third blog in a row I’ve written about football, so sorry if you’re sick of it. I’ll try write about something else next week, probably me being sad or lonely or something similar.

Anyway, that’s about it.

Cya x

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