It’s kicking off! Like it, loathe it or simply indifferent? As the hype reaches a crescendo, there’s no denying that Englishness (whatever form that takes) is everywhere.
Here are 5 ways, in which we, the average Joes and Janes, seem to be exercising our Englishness as a nation:
Photos are being uploaded of little ‘uns looking lovely in mini England kits; their parents are keen to make them mini mascots in support of our national football team. I challenge even the most anti-Euros to tell me that they’re not utterly adorable.
Trending on our newsfeeds, are temporary profile pictures proudly displaying the slogan ‘Together for England’ in support of the team’s first match. I don’t mind this positivity; it’s a nice distraction from the comments made by the Defence Secretary reminding England fans to be ‘vigilant’ of terrorists if they’ve travelled to France to watch the football, ‘the threat level in France is at severe. An attack is likely’. Thanks for that, mate.
I’m sure the partners and families back at home aren’t having panic attacks about their husbands, fathers, brothers and friends currently abroad, now that you’ve reassured everyone…
2. Headlines about Hooligans
As with any competition involving our national side, our fans always seem to attract negative headlines. Is this sensationalism, just a minority of fans or are we really a nation of bloodthirsty football firms geared up for a scrap?
This morning, I read headlines from 4 different sources – Naturally, each had their own bias about the behaviour of England football fans in Marseille but they all seemed unanimous that English fans had some sort of involvement with the violence. Should you believe everything you read? One report had a sympathetic slant for a fan who was ‘thrown into the harbour’ and other reports used words such as ‘ thugs, goading police, hooligans, (who) shouted obscenities’ to describe English fans. Another source stated that ‘most were simply drunk and singing. Teargas (by the police) wasn’t appropriate’. Who knows?
If English fans were instigating the violence, then I feel sorry for the fans who don’t deserved to be tarred with the same brush and if they didn’t, then our own papers should stop sensationalising about the few nutters who forget that it is just a game. The phrase which should never, ever be uttered in the presence of The Passionates.
Like any social situation, there will be a diverse group of people thrown together for a united cause but is it fair to say they’re all the same? My advice would be to just go and have a few pints, cheer and behave yourself, alright?
3. Passion & Patriotism
“England til I die. I know I am. I’m sure I am. I’m England. Til. I. Die”. Songs will be heard from the terraces tonight on our television screens. Crowds of white, red and blue will be belting out the lyrics passionately. And we only hope the players will do the job on the pitch. No doubt we’ll see images of the colourful crowds – A sea of white and red painted faces. Men, proudly displaying inked images of bull dogs holding large flags with their home town or local football teams printed on it.
Earlier today, I’ve given Ordinary Lad my rendition of Baddiel and Skinner’s ’96 anthem to do my bit for the English passion. I began “Three lions on a shirt, jewels remain still gleaming”.
I was corrected.
“It’s Jules Rimet still gleaming!” (pronounced Remay if youre not sure, like me!) Cue his belly laugh. I then had to have a lesson about the trophy itself; it’s named after FIFA longest standing President. Who knew? I did wonder which jewels were gleaming to be honest? The lads’ crown jewels? Hoping that the ball doesn’t hit them in the jewels?
I’ll stick to the only bit I do know, where they sing “It’s coming home, its coming home. Footballs coming home”. That’s easy enough. And if all else fails, I’ll hum the rest.
4. Parties & Pubs
There’s a street in Sheffield with St George bunting connecting houses on both sides to show their pride. It could be likened to the street part atmosphere of the Queen’s Jubilee. Shops are selling England paraphernalia, paper plates, car flags and t-shirts for people to host their own England themed celebrations.
I know friends are having gatherings at home while others are choosing to go out to the pub to watch it. TV screens in testosterone filled boozers down town. Ladies, if you’re single, get yourself out and watch the match; bars will be full of blokes. I can’t guarantee that they will be your type, though.
5. Resilience & Hope
We simultaneously, insult and praise the players; this is a fan’s prerogative. The Passionates criticise the tactics of the manager, the penalty, the sending off. “Offside!” “Is the referee’s blind or just a w*nker?”.
And despite the fact that our national team have been unable to lift a trophy in my lifetime, we have a resilient belief that this year will be our time to shine. And I don’t think this should be discouraged. What’s wrong with having a bit of hope, belief and positivity?
I don’t fully understand the offside rule but if England win, I’ll be jumping on the bandwagon along with countless others. Not because I’m a massive football fanatic, but just because I like being part of sharing something positive for our country. And it’s any excuse to enjoy a night out. So come on boys! Come on Eng-er-land.
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