A.J. Walker



Very much enjoyed the England v Ukraine match on Saturday. Had a brilliant table at the Head of Steam, on Hanover Street, for the match. On Tuesday there had just been the two of us watching the Germany match in there (i.e. I was with a mate, not that there were just two of us in the place). This time, for the Quarter Final against Ukraine, there were the maximum of six of us sat together. Seeing England score early goals in both halves was great - and highly unusual. So roll on Wednesday and the semifinal vs Denmark. The other semi on Tuesday between Spain and Italy will be fascinating too.

I have a strange relationship with England. I mean I’d rather they won than lost but ultimately it would be water off a duck’s back when they lose too. Basically I think the correct term is ‘
not that arsed.’ Some people around here wear it as a badge of honour not to support England - the “we’re not English, we’re Scouse” thing - but it’s not a Liverpool thing for me - at least I don’t think it is. I think it is a mixture of growing up as a kid in the 70s and 80s and seeing so many dire (or just uninspiring) performances under Don Revie and Ron Greenwood years (especially when compared to the mighty Reds of course); and seemingly a generation of players not showing that much pride in pulling on that shirt. It's also all the friendlies. I mean who cares? A player may be happy winning a cap, but ultimately what does the result in a friendly matter to anyone? - and if you can't get excited why even tune in to watch it. At least we did have the British Championship back then which gave players some fear of losing - and desire to win. It was a shame when that had to go. The feeling is exacerbated by the whole hooligan and associated nonsense vibe too particularly back in the day. Football violence and racism and all that doesn’t really get me all gooey inside.

I understand jingoism but it’s not a nice thing when it’s channelled as it is towards anti-this and anti-that. I mean at the same time as not being that arsed by England football team I'm mad for England cricketers winning in the Ashes. And winning the World Cup against New Zealand a few years ago was one of the best things that I’ve seen on TV. Sport at its very best. I love the Brits doing well in the Olympics or when Murray won Wimbledon. And the Brits doing well in the Tour de France. So yeah, it’s not the supporting England thing (or Britain or UK) it’s the way jingoism in relation to the national sport has been corrupted for years by people who actually love the shit that goes with it more than the football itself.

I’ve never seen England play - and I don’t really have the desire to. I had tickets for an International match once: Italy v Russia at Euro 96 at Anfield, but ended up working on a project in Mexico so missed it (as excuses go that’s a fine one ). On our first night in Villahermosa (Tabasco) we went to a night club (we’d been told to keep a low profile prior to going - and we did) but the locals all knew about us and rumours spread like wildfire; it says it all about our nation’s sport and how we are viewed overseas (or were in 96) that on the giant screen in the club it suddenly flashed up “Villahermosa Welcomes Los Hooligans.” I mean FFS. It transpired that the limited view of the UK at the time involved three main things: The Beatles; Lady Di; and Mad Cow Disease. I am only remotely interested in the band. We were presented with a wind-up dancing plastic cow - or La Vaca Loca - as an apparently funny and sympathetic joke. It was good job
Los Hooligans were thick skinned. In the nightclub they obviously also knew about football hooliganism as a famous export to rank alongside these luminaries.

At least if we can play a few decent matches now, and win something, then the years of bore draw nil-nils can fade a little into the distance of my youth. Maybe we can bring back the British Championship too and not play so many pointless friendlies (which is another thing that puts me off England - I mean I have no interest in watching any team play friendlies!). Ultimately it would be nice if they won something in my lifetime and they can get that 1966 monkey of the back.

So come on England. I'll shout at the screen if you score. I'll probably just shrug if you lose.
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