England and Roy Hodgson provide a pathetic full stop to the darkest of weeks.
Fuck off England. Just fuck off.
In one sense, football does not matter and never should. It's a fucking sport after all; a mere pastime. Why let something so trivial consume our lives to such a ridiculous degree? Every day life has ups and downs enough, not to add to the gut-punching gamut of emotions by caring so much about the 90 minute journey of a leather ball.
But that's the thing. Life is hard. People do have all sorts of shit they have to deal with. And football? Football takes you out of that, for just a bit. You lose yourself in this other world, where twenty-two men chasing a circle of air is somehow significant. It is a wonderful, communal, joyous, maddening, intoxicating release from painful reality. It does matter.
This week, these last few days, have been fucking difficult. England and its fellow union nations are fractured and bruised. The pound is plummeting, our political parties are in turmoil, racism and bigotry have reared their ugly heads, and friends and neighbours have fallen out over a referendum that seems to have scythed our island in two.
If ever we needed just a sliver of happiness, it was now. If all the unconditional love we show to our very imperfect heroes each and every week could be repaid in but a small way, it was on Monday night. We yearned a brief moment of respite from the breathtaking shiteness of real life. Just this time, we craved a sense of pride in our national sport that wasn't completely invented by us.
But no. England, you set of cowardly weak-hearted charlatans, you failed us. Anything would have done. A scrappy victory in extra-time; an undeserved win on penalties. Just a few more days of hollow hope. But of course we couldn't rely on you for that. Europe and the world were already laughing at us til their ribs hurt, and you provided the perfect punchline. You tragic bunch of miserable fucks.
Of course it is harsh to blame the players on an individual level; we need to take into account the pressure they were under. Blah fucking blah. But that calls for rational thought and the objectivity, and sorry but we can't fucking afford you that right now. The steaming pile of repugnant shite that was dumped on each and every one of us hoping against hope is still anus-fresh.
Speaking of drained arseholes: Roy Hodgson. You clueless fucking coward. Many opposed to Brexit are blaming the baby boomers amongst us, as if they don't deserve a vote and ought to just shut up and wait to die. That of course is cruel and unfair, but in Hodgson's case, the nation's fortunes were killed at birth by a dim-witted never-was too scared to fail. And of course, he did.
The economy is fucked, and we can't do anything about that. Our politics is fucked, and we can do fuck all about that either. These are self-inflicted miseries and now we've got to live with them. But uniting against a common foe we dwarf - with all our resources and many millions spend - only to lose with such little gumption or fight? Get. To. Fuck.
Iceland are not the mysterious and magical 'other'. They are neither sophisticated tacticians, nor the mesmerising wizards of that there abroad. They are a tiny mirror image of what we could be at our very best - compact, united, daring and far bigger than themselves. We are not of those things. We're bloated; we're hateful; we're divided. We're shite.
You often hear the complaint - and excuse - that the national team doesn't matter enough to us; that they're too committed to their tribal club loyalties. Well this week of all weeks, we were strangely united, and England did actually fucking matter. Because it was a piss-stain of a week and we needed just the smallest exclamation. Instead we were given the most pathetic full-stop. Cheers, nice one.