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. 

  • Gareth may now not get his knighthood, or Harry. Is this such a bad thing? Surely you have always been against titles anyway.
  • Bang goes the new Bank Holiday, thank goodness. What this country needs is to get back to work, not to sit on our bums in the park drinking horrible sweet drinks. Boris can now take off his horrible, sweaty, cheap England top and let his belly flop out over his trousers, as usual.
  • Look upon this loss as a metaphor for life. Just when you think it can’t get better, wham, something nasty or unexpected happens. You can’t bank on anything. That’s life. That’s football. Never get too carried away.
  • Thank God for small mercies. The Italian didn’t win the men’s singles at Wimbledon. It was won by one of our own. Hold on, Serbian. And at least we won’t hear that awful Three Lions song and that drippy Sweet Caroline. Well, until the next time.
  • We also won’t have to endure that corny headline “55 Years of Hurt again." Oh God, next year it will be 56 Years of Hurt, then 57, 58, till the last syllable of extra time. Get used to it.
  • Relish the good stuff. Like the way Luke Shaw, having been rubbished by Mourinho and all the back pages for the last year, became a hero, scoring after just one minute and 57 seconds – the fastest ever goal at a European Championship final. Wow. Come on, what a moment; the whole nation erupted. Remember that and be grateful.
  • Jordan Pickford, with his new floppy hair style, saved two penalties – how often does that happen? Praise where praise is due.
  • Remember too, we were winning for most of the game – it was 1-0 till the 67th minute, which means we were leading for almost all the game. We were therefore 72 per cent the winners. That doesn’t sound too bad. Respect.
  • Someone has to win. It’s a game of two halves, two teams. One wins, one loses, that’s life. Surely you have other things going on? Stop going on about it. It’s only a game. Get a grip. Don’t be pathetic.
  • Think of the happy scenes in Rome, what pleasure it brought them. Don’t be mean. They deserve a break, having to put up with rubbish TV, men smothered by their mothers, unable to cook a proper English breakfast and having a new government every week. They suffered terribly in the early days of the pandemic. And who created the vaccines? Well then.
  • Who’s going to win the World Cup next year? Ingerland!
  • 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.