The younger generation are moaning and sobbing about how heartbroken they are, but I have seen it all before
I was there in 1966. Gosh how much fun it was – coming away from the old Wembley thinking that’s it, we will now be at the top forever.
I am here, 55 years later, having been following England all this time. God, it has mostly been hell, so annoying, so very frustrating. I still can’t believe we got stuffed by Iceland in 2016 which saw us knocked out of the Euros. A year before that, we got knocked out of the World Cup after five days. The 4-1 defeat by Germany in 2010. And so it goes on.
On Sunday night I was behind the sofa. On my own. I had been with my girlfriend for the weekend, but had come home to watch it alone. As I always do. When my son was young we would watch the games together, but he would talk all the way through about what’s for supper, who are Spurs playing next and his sore tummy and I would have to explain you are only allowed to talk about what is actually happening on the screen. Otherwise belt up.
I have never cared for watching with others, in a pub or a group either. The noise, the distractions, the people. I like to be alone with my pain and my pleasures. I always leave the room at half time, never listening to the clever clog commentators. I have enough banal thoughts of my own.
Sunday, of course, was a pain. I could not understand why Gareth brought on Henderson, a pedestrian player, when the score was 1-1 and they needed another goal. Surely Gorgeous Jack was the obvious choice? Then bringing on three young subs, still in nappies, just to take penalties. Potty or what?
I have waited 55 years for another England final. At this rate I am going be 140 before we get to another one.
Hunter Davies has followed England through many tournaments – and many disappointments
Credit: Andrew Crowley
The younger generation are moaning and sobbing about how heartbroken they are. I have seen it all before. I can cope. But here are a few observations and words of wisdom to the young, who feel they will never get over it.
Just remember this. It is far worse for the players. OK, so they have millions in the bank, gated mansions and their own hair stylist, but you are the one who has a normal life – you got up this morning and went to school or work. They have to live with the result, every day for the rest of their lives. For them, football is their life and work. They can’t escape it. From the age of eight, they have been shouted at by horrible coaches and not allowed the normal growing up rites of passages and pleasures. And then a night like Sunday happens, their moods will darken; they may wonder what the point is? They will be facing retirement at 35, their purpose gone. Money in the bank but arthritis in the bones. So it is them we need to feel sorry for, not ourselves. We will get over it, just as we always have done.