“I think the best place to work in football is England”
“My mortal foe can no ways wish me a greater harm than England’s hate; neither should death be less welcome unto me than such a mishap betide me”
“There’ll always be an England, even if it’s in Hollywood”
“In England we have come to rely upon a comfortable time-lag of 50 years or a century intervening between the perception that something ought to be done and a serious attempt to do it”
‘England expects that every man will do his duty’. With Nelson’s words ringing in my ear, I terminated a training course I was running prior to kick-off at 3pm Sunday 27th June.
I was working in London. I dismissed the delegates early so that they could repair to the hotel bar in order to watch the game. The feeling of anticipation mixed with a layer of fear (Germany..penalties..average age of their team 4 years younger than ours) was palpable.
When Lampard’s goal was disallowed there was a sense of surreal Truffautesque comedy surrounding it – as if we were all shortly going to appear on an edition of Candid Camera or You’ve been Framed – or that Rio Ferdinand was going to say that he’d arranged the whole thing as a Merk (sick joke) on his team mates – and the Nation.
I was feeling unwell anyway so the drive home from London was a bit of a blur, interspersed by Rob Green on Radio Five Live fielding grief-stricken calls from fans who kept repeating the mantra – ‘Fabio, six million a year’ and ‘what are we going to do now?’
People who support Man U or Arsenal or Chelsea (even Liverpool) don’t understand what it is like for a Southend United Supporter (newly relegated to Division Two) to be let down by England as well. The Manchesters and the Chelseas will sail on next season to cup and league glory.
Lower division urchin supporters will have to make do with scraps of good news along the lines of ‘Youth Team Coach has accepted a new Contract’ and ‘Two senior players who were paid more than is allowed in Division Two have been released on free transfers’. It’s a different world.
For us goal line technology consists of a mobile phone strapped to a goalpost in case the goalkeeper is called away to his second job as an undertaker.
The term team strip has a different meaning as well. In Southend United’s case it means key members of the team being stripped by other clubs as we move into the lower subterranean reaches of the Football League where fans arrive with their kit bags because there’s always the outside chance of being asked to play if the Centre Forward doesn’t turn up because he’s had a better offer from Colchester United.
Our longsuffering Manager Steve Tilson (subsequently moved upstairs to be replaced by the old school die-hard Scot Paul Sturrock) is particularly philosophical considering that even after retiring from the game ten years ago he knows he could still play better than half his team. It is especially appropriate that a major supermarket is funding the replacement ground to Roots Hall as most of our team are now officially on the shelf – available on a Buy One Get One Free offer (BOGOF).
The one redeeming fact about all this is that after watching England play like a Cromer Women’s Institute Sunday outing, Southend United will look quite good next season.
Disappointment? It’s all relative..