Life is stuck in an endless loop of English football fans


In the end, the English football team, as always, lost the long wait to win the trophy. Now for more than 55 years, the hopes of a new generation of fans have shattered like I stepped on a broken beer bottle outside at Wembley Stadium on Sunday night.

The futile reflection on supporting England will not become laughter. Futility may not be entirely correct, because the support team is actually an endless loop of anxiety, humiliation, and fiasco, periodically full of hope.

Every generation has subtle differences: here is the decisive handball (Mexico in ’86), there is the red card (France in ’98). Usually penalty kicks are lost (various World Cups, European Championships). But it’s still a cycle: the act of waiting for something that will never happen-Samuel Beckett’s drama, in which a team of 11 people plays and loses when they seem likely to win.

There are other compelling and familiar elements in Sunday’s game: Despicable racist abuse For example, those British players who missed their penalty kicks, or those unticketed fans who overwhelmed the butler Force yourself into Wembley stadium.

Neither phenomenon is new: racists have long been attracted to the national team, so much so that former star John Barnes was abused by England’s own fans on the flight home after scoring a goal. The ticketless fans who overwhelmed the butler on Sunday are heirs to the crowd who threw chairs at the European Championship in Belgium 21 years ago.

But this time there is a real new element. England have played well in a few consecutive games! Germany was dispatched with relative ease for the first time since 1966; England defeated Ukraine and defeated Denmark in the semi-final, which was more noisy, noisy, and joyous than any game I have ever played in my memory. They control the game and sometimes play sparkling and exciting football games in a real swagger.

After the semifinals, I left Wembley to fight side by side with thousands of fans without masks. Unable to deal with what I just saw, my first thought (apart from worrying that I will be infected with Covid in this year’s Super Spreader event) was my grandfather, how I wish he was alive to see an England team He played so energetic and entered the finals.

If you love football, then the European Championship and the World Cup can be road signs for important moments in your life. Recalling past games always reminds people of what you were doing and who you were with.

In my family, when the England team played, my father and grandfather would always sit in front of the TV with my brother and me. These experiences are usually characterized by failure, which is why Gareth Southgate’s team’s journey to the cliff of championship glory has caused so much emotion. Yes, Southgate’s team eventually failed, but they failed more than any English team in my memory. My father and my kids watched a few games together. Apart from the results on Sunday, my grandfather would definitely like it.

Before the game started, I tried to explain to my children the dangers of becoming an England supporter. Looking at their hopeful faces became more and more confused as I warned them about the dangers of over-optimism and doing well for the inevitable failure. The necessity of preparation.Like them, I quickly forgot about this and was swept away in the process of entering the finals, full of faith like everyone else, until reality and Bukayo Saka missed penalty.

Then we will go to the World Cup to be held in Qatar next year. Sports experts and friends have talked about it hopefully, as if it is easier to win a game at 100 degrees than it is to win a game in front of your own supporters.

But maybe I read it wrong. Although England’s victory next year or any given year will be historic, it is not important. It is important to watch the journey in England—the tortuous, maddening loop of despair, occasionally mixed with hope—and the people sitting next to you along the way.

matthew.garrahan@ft.com



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