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18th Jun 2018

Seven things that always happen when England play at the World Cup

When a World Cup comes around, you just know these things are going to happen

Wayne Farry

All international tournaments are absolutely amazing

But when it comes down to it, the World Cup is where it’s at. The travel, the joy, the support and the wall-to-wall football, it’s impossible not to get utterly caught up in it all and allow it to consume you whole.

One of the best things about the World Cup, especially one that features England, is that certain things always happen up and down the country. They happen every four years and they happen without fail.

1 – A television will be wheeled into your school hall

We’ve all been there. For some reason, unusually, your teacher isn’t there. “Where are they?” you ask. “What’s going on? Are they sick?!” The questions continue. Nerves are wracked, then, that sound. The rattle, the unmistakable sound of wheels under the weight of a heavy item. Surely it isn’t, surely they wouldn’t. Then the door opens, THEY HAVE! The teacher wheels in a television and – yes – you are going to be watching England play football while in school. Life doesn’t get better.

2 – People who don’t know the words to the national anthem get annoyed that the players don’t know it

“God save our gracious Queen, mmmmm, hmmm, hmmmm, emmm, emm, emmm, God save the Queen”

That’s about as far as most people’s knowledge of the national anthem extends, which is fine. It’s just a song. But when an England player struggles to sing all of the words, the pitchforks come out. It’ll happen again this year, but it probably shouldn’t.

3 – Your football-hating colleague will approach you awkwardly talking about England’s formation

“Bloody hell, what about that 3-4-2, eh? What is Southgate doing?” Well, Josh, at least Mr. Southgate is aware of the fact that 3-4-2 would leave us with only nine outfield players, that’s something.

It’s great to see people take an interest in sport, but it’s a little strange when your colleague approaches you awkwardly like this, forcing themselves to say a set of words which they haven’t uttered in four years or so.

There’s nothing you can do about it though, so just close your eyes and hope that it’s quick and painless.

4 – People remember the England Band exists, and remember that they hate them

The World Cup is just great, isn’t it? Unbridled joy, national pride, watching games with friends, soaking it all in. Then you hear that feint murmur of a wind instrument playing what sounds like The Italian Job theme song.

It had been a sweet few years forgetting that the England Band existed, but now that peace is over. They will follow you everywhere, even when you’re not watching England. They will be with you at work, at dinner, at home, and in your dreams. They are the soundtrack to your life, until you forget them again.

5 –  Players will get criticised for not performing as they have done for clubs

Just imagine it, if Harry Kane fails to score a couple in the group stages, you can sense it already. People will not be able to stop themselves from petulantly giving out about the fact that – as usual – plays cannot recreate their club form on the international stage. Do they not love England? Is it about money? Get it together.

6 – It becomes socially acceptable to have a St. George’s Cross in your possession

Most of the team it’s a little bit strange to see someone wearing or carrying a St. George’s Cross. You can’t help but wonder where they are going or, also a key question, where they are coming from?

But when a World Cup is on and England are playing, it’s perfectly acceptable and – yes – even joyful to see one of your fellow passionate Englishmen carrying your nation’s flag through the street, or driving with it attached to their car.

7 – The right-wing media attempts to derail the national team because they rely on a climate of hatred

The right wing media loves patriotism. It’s all they think about, to the point that they call MPs and other dissenters “treasonous”, so it’s always a little strange when, every four years, they attempt to turn the country against one of the few positives groups representing the country on the world stage.

But it will happen, because the right wing cannot exist in a nation that is full of positivity, of national pride that comes from a wholesome place. They can only thrive in a climate of toxicity and hatred, without it they cease to have a purpose, so expect them to turn against this England team at the first opportunity.